Consider requirements of fully implementing common carrier locker systems in public locations to allow room for expansion post-pilot.
Lessons learned from Seattle Municipal Tower Pilot
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United States

The Final 50 Feet Urban Goods Delivery System: Common Carrier Locker Pilot Test at the Seattle Municipal Tower


A parcel locker system is a self-service technology that allows customers to pick up their packages when it is convenient for them. Common Carrier Locker Systems provide secure delivery locations for multiple delivery carriers in public spaces. In spring 2018, a common carrier locker system was placed in the 62-floor Seattle Municipal Tower for ten days as part of a joint research project of the Urban Freight Lab (UFL) at the University of Washington’s Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Center and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), with additional funding from the Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium (PacTrans). The project is part of the UFL’s Final 50 Feet Research Program to optimize operations in the final 50 feet of the supply chain.
Researchers collected delivery data at the Seattle Municipal Tower over 10 days without the locker and over the 10 days with the locker in place. Tower tenants were recruited for the pilot, with 36 tenants volunteering to participate. Instructions were provided to United Parcel Service (UPS) and U.S Postal Service (USPS) drivers and tenants to learn how to use the lockers.

Lessons Learned

The pilot test required extensive multi-sector collaboration from UPS, USPS, SDOT, Seattle Municipal Tower building management (CBRE), the parcel locker vendor (Parcel Pending), and building tenants to secure multiple entities’ approval. Based on lessons learned during the Municipal Tower pilot, the researchers recommend that future tests:

  • Last 12 months or more to both capture data on seasonal usage patterns that can better inform implementation, and to recruit the maximum number of pilot participants.
  • Place site lockers next to commercial load/unload spaces. The Tower pilot was not able to do this because the building’s loading bay area was not constructed to conform to accessibility regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Based on the project’s findings, cities should consider reviewing existing building codes to provide ADA accessibility to parcel lockers placed close to private loading bays.
  • Build in ample planning time and obtain executive sponsorship from all authorities; it took nearly a year to secure permission from various parties to conduct the Tower pilot.
  • Consider the requirements of fully implementing common carrier locker systems when planning pilot tests in public locations so there will be room to expand if desired.
    • There is likely to be significant demand for lockers when they are fully implemented in public spaces. The pilot test plan should consider how a later expansion could work on site.
    • Operational rules should be established up front to ensure productivity of the locker space, such as creating a 24-hour limit (or up to a maximum of three days) for packages to sit in the locker before they are considered a return, and picked up by delivery firms.
    • Adding (a) additional carriers and (b) more advanced integration of multiple carriers’ ITS platforms should be phased in gradually over a 12- to 24-month pilot test. As a proof of concept the research team kept the Tower pilot simple, limiting it to two carriers, and purposively not integrating the locker vendor’s ITS with the carriers’ upstream technology. Full implementation with multiple carriers would require much more coordination, time and attention to inform them of the operating rules, and integrate the parcel vendor’s platform with some carriers’ tracking technologies.
    • Future pilots should build in an adequate marketing budget to support a broader and longer marketing campaign to sign up a larger number of users.

The Final 50 Feet Urban Goods Delivery System: Common Carrier Locker Pilot Test at the Seattle Municipal Tower

The Final 50 Feet Urban Goods Delivery System: Common Carrier Locker Pilot Test at the Seattle Municipal Tower
Publication Sort Date
Goodchild, Anne
University of Washington: Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Center

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