The CILT Annual Logistics Conference in Coventry last week (18 June) tackled the rapid pace of growth and change in consumer behaviour in cities around the world, which is creating a serious challenge for urban deliveries.

Conference chairman Robin Proctor, group supply chain director, Travis Perkins, informed delegates that “90% of population growth is in cities and an astounding 80% of CO2 emissions originate from cities”.

There were distinct parallels between the cities discussed, with Dr Jon Lamonte, chief executive at Transport for Greater Manchester, informing delegates that Manchester is the third most visited place in the UK, providing the city with massive economical potential. He said the key question for Manchester was: “How do we grow economically but also sustainably?”

Lamonte spoke of the developments in the relationship between public transport and freight logistics and revealed that freight was not in his job spec two-and-a-half years ago, but emphasised the need for ‘joined up thinking’.

One of the key innovations in delivering the consumer-driven supply chain is out-of-hours and quiet deliveries. Brodie McMillan, logistics director, Whitbread, told delegates of the rapid pace of growth Whitbread is experiencing with particular reference to the Premier Inn and Costa Coffee aspect of the business. From 2007/2008 to 2014/2015 Costa experienced a 262% increase in customer delivery locations and an 80% increase across the whole of the business.

Whitbread delivers to 900 Costa Coffee locations every night. Brodie spoke of the importance of driver training and awareness in making this possible, as well as truck modification including quiet fridge motors, reversing beepers, rubber buffers all needing modification for night time deliveries. Brodie believes that “quiet delivery is becoming a brand value” and that “quiet deliveries are here to stay”.

Ian Wainwright, head of Freight and Fleet Programme, Transport for London (TfL), emphasised that this is a time for change and innovation and told delegates: “Your industry is changing beyond all recognition”. He told delegates of the lessons TfL learnt during the delivery of the Olympic Games: “We learnt the importance of talking to people and operators and being consistent with our message. Our philosophy for both moving freight and people during the games was reduce, retime, reroute and re-mode.”

The final topic of the day was the comparison of freight planning in London and New York with Stacey Hodge, director, Freight Mobility, New York City DfT and Joe Dack, transport logistics project manager, HDR. Delegates learned that the population of New York live in half the size of London, so there is a serious intensity in the space. One of the key issues for New York is accommodating growth and change, which is similar to London.

Hodge said there are more commonalities than differences between New York and London and highlighted that the cities should support each other in innovation, development and change.