Public transit for packages

 

Every now and then I’m confronted with a choice. Should I order something on Amazon.com or drive 20 minutes to a local store and purchase the item there. I’ve been a card-carrying member of Amazon Prime since the year it was launched. Most items are delivered to me “free of charge” (i.e. no additional payment), within the timeframe I’d like to have them in may hands. There are instances when I need something right away, so there isn’t really a choice. Even same day delivery wouldn’t be enough.

That’s when I make a short suburban trip to pay for and gain rightful ownership of a ream of paper or a pack of pencils with dark chocolate eraser tips. (I’m joking. I prefer milk chocolate).  Within the hour, I’m putting my purchase to good use. However, unless I also have other appointments or chores in the proximity of the Staples or Office Depot store, I find the go-to-the-store option costly and inefficient. I feel like a taxi driver to paper and pencils. I could be doing other things. Why couldn’t they catch the bus, tram or train?

That’s what home delivery services offer. Each package is like passenger, and the barcoded shipping label is the ticket slapped on their face. Computers and algorithms solve for the most optimal route within a set of constraints, and figure out the last mile logistics in a way that may be as environmentally-friendly as public transportation. They are public transit for your packages.

Delivery trucks deserve HOV lanes.

I’m really bothered by the amount of energy we waste without regard to long-term environmental impact. Traditional parcel delivery services like USPS, FedEx, UPS and DHL have always been a public transit service. Of course, the last mile is presently a battlegrounds of sorts with all the majors competing to be the ones who ring your door bell or leave you a note.

IMG_7033

Amazon Prime van parked in Silver Spring, Maryland

Let’s hope that in the long term the systems for delivering goods to the door will evolve to be more efficient than ever before.

 

 

Filed under: analogies, thoughts, transportation

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TL;DR I can audit the design of a service to prevent or predict systemic failure, using a proprietary method called 16F I make intractable problems, tractable by reframing them. I then design solutions that won't create problems elsewhere, now or in the future. The solutions are in the form of services. I focus on system-level structures that give meaning and purpose to the design of lower-level constructs such as processes, interfaces, and interactions. I've spent the last 10 years obsessed with the questions: What are services? Why do they fail? Why do they exist? I'm now writing a book. Design is my dogma. Curiosity is my doctrine. Industrial engineering is my discipline. @mxiqbal

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