A breath of fresh air for downtown delivery


Bouffée d’air frais pour la livraison urbaine

DHL’s bet to improve quality of urban life through green transport by 2025

The expression that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link is well suited to any logistics-related discussion. There are compelling opportunities within logistics solutions to strengthen weak links. This is intriguing considering how well-poised the industry is to set global emissions reduction goals. Manoëlla Wilbaut, Head of Global Commercial Developments & Sustainability at DHL Customer Solutions and Innovation, has a few ideas about the future of the industry and what to expect when it comes to downtown delivery.


The future of downtown delivery is connected (and green)

Manöella’s position is quite clear: the logistics of the future will be more connected, from P2P to B2B to B2City. With this in mind, DHL is experimenting with urban micro-depots (small, centrally located distribution points) shared with competitors.

“When sharing micro-depots, companies need to be very transparent about what they will do with the shared network, because we can only optimize the network if we’re clear on what we’re doing on the network,” she says.

Other experiments include several creative last-mile delivery methods such as DHL’s City Hub and the versatile Cubicycle, which provides green downtown delivery. The City Hub concept is based on 1-cubic-metre containers, delivered to the city and installed on a Cubicycle (for very short distances) or a Cubivan. City Hub also acts as a service point for consumers and businesses for the collection, return and dispatch of orders. After pilot projects in the Netherlands and Germany, the Cubicycle will soon be rolling around in several of the world’s major cities.


Watch the Cubicycle in action


DHL’s mission for 2050: zero CO2 emissions

There are four strategic targets for 2025 to track the progress of DHL’s long-term 2050 mission:

  1. Global target: Increase carbon efficiency by 50% over 2007 levels in support of the worldwide effort to keep global warming below 2°C.
  2. Local target: Improve local quality of life by delivering 70% of first- and last-mile services with clean pickup and delivery solutions.
  3. Economic target: More than 50% of sales will incorporate Green Solutions, making customers’ supply chains greener.
  4. People target: Train 80% of DHL employees to become certified GoGreen specialists and  involve them in DHL’s environmental and climate protection activities. This includes joining with partners to plant one million trees each year.


“We want to try to be insanely customer centric and insanely people centric.”
– Manöella Wilbaut, DHL



Circulatory solutions, high expectations

“Logistics is like blood in the body — it needs to circulate. If it doesn’t circulate, you have a problem,” says Manöella. “In the same way, it’s like breathing: no one wakes up in the morning and says ‘I’m so happy I can breathe!’”

We have come to expect lightning-fast delivery from our growing e-commerce habits, though the complexities of the supply chain are not necessarily evident to the average consumer.

How can transport innovation help us create good quality of life in urban areas?

During the working session guided by Manoëlla at the Movin’On Summit 2018, participants proposed creative ideas to solve last-mile problems:

  • Delivery by the customer — Commuters take packages from outside the city to inside, so large trucks never pass through the city. This would eliminate rush hour delivery truck congestion.
  • Concentration spot — Automated depot for all logistics suppliers. All packages deposited at one spot in a neighbourhood. Pickup and return via personal ID.
  • Pickup lockers — AI and smartphone data would determine pickup location at a series of lockers based on consumers’ frequently travelled paths. This would avoid the inefficiency of deliveries to empty homes during work hours.
  • Customers as shareholders — Incubates innovation through a community of like-minded customers whose loyalty is rewarded.


This article is excerpted from The Movin’On Summit Minutes 2018, a roadmap for mobility leaders and experts, and those wishing to do their part for sustainable mobility.  For more thought-provoking, action-oriented content, sign up for our newsletter.