How Social Distancing is Changing Last Mile Delivery for Drivers and Customers
How Social Distancing is Changing Last Mile Delivery for Drivers and Customers
Last Mile Delivery workers are on the frontline. Home delivery has gone from nice-to-have to essential. In a very short time, there have been changes to delivery processes that have been in place for years and adoption of new technologies.
Last mile delivery companies have implemented “contactless delivery” protocol which includes new safety rules, supplying drivers with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like gloves, masks and providing customers the option of allowing the driver to sign for delivery instead of the customer.
For example, a signature at the door has been replaced with a combination of options such as having the1
- Last mile providers use connectivity applications allowing customers to request deliveries be left at their door and be alerted by SMS or push notification.
- Courier take a photo of the delivery at the customers doorstep and then email it along with the delivery notice.
- Delivery driver drop the parcel at the doorstep, ring the doorbell, and then ask the customer to confirm their name from a safe distance.
- Customers choose to pick-up deliveries at parcel lockers that can be open with smart phone app which limits contact with other people.
Some companies are exploring ideas like replacing the 'sign-on glass' of the tablet/mobile phone of the driver with a system that involves text messages. The driver would send a text message and consumer responds with text as to whether they accept the delivery.2
All the changes are designed for reducing and/or eliminating contact with customers and creating a safer way to interact.
Challenges for Last Mile Driver Safety
Many deliveries are done by independent contractors who may or may not offer their drivers protective supplies such face masks, gloves, or sanitizer. In addition, many of these subcontractors employ contract drivers, which further limits what they need to provide not only in the way of sanitary supplies, but also health insurance and sick time, which impacts driver morale as they work in environments with a higher risk of exposure to the virus. 3
Driver Concerns. Some of the top concerns of last mile drivers include:
- Drivers are finding less time to deep clean their vans before, during and after the days deliveries because pressures to meet ever growing delivery targets
- Drivers are finding it difficult to find places along their routes where they could wash hands as recommended by their companies and government agencies.
- Some drivers have found it difficult to regularly secure gloves, masks, hand sanitizers, and alcohol wipes, especially as they interact with the customer such as opening gates, touching doorknob, and ringing doorbells.
- Because the virus can live on plastic for three days and cardboard for 24 hours, drivers raise concerns about handling packages all day with the possibility of virus transmission to customers and others.
- Constant concerns by drivers that if they develop a cough; is it a cold or is it virus?
Evolving Best Practices for Last Mile Delivery Driver Safety
In order to keep the last mile delivery courier safe, most companies are adopting and promoting the following best practices among their fleets.
Contactless deliveries. Drivers are directed to practice contactless deliveries whenever possible. Contactless deliveries take the form of:4
- If the delivery requires contact with the delivery recipient, they are required to be at least be 6 feet away while verifying the delivery.
- Try to do everything electronically whenever possible (e.g., in an app or over the phone) to eliminate contact between driver and delivery recipient.
- Limit contact with often touched surfaces such as gates, door handles, doorbells.
- When opening doors use a foot, shoulder, elbow, hip or forearm.
- Avoid sharing scanners, pens, or other tools/devices with customers.
- If the driver is wearing machine washable work gloves throughout the shift, they are not to touch their face. Remove gloves and wash hands before eating. When washing gloves use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry them completely.
Clean and disinfect vehicle, tools & devices. Drivers can go a long way to protect themselves and customer by cleaning and disinfecting their work endowment. For example,
- Visibly dirty surfaces should be cleaned with detergent or soap and water before disinfecting.
- Carry cleaning and disinfectant disposable wipes, if available, and trash bag in the vehicle.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces of the delivery vehicle especially if shared. Surfaces include steering wheel, gearshift, signaling levers, and door handles.
- Wipe down pens, clipboards, and electronic signature pads after each use with the public if shared when performing a delivery.
Person hygiene-cleaning hands. Drivers are asked to wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer/hand rubs containing at least 60% alcohol. Key times to clean hands when operating a vehicle and making deliveries include:
- Before and after work shifts
- Before and after work breaks
- After putting on, touching, or removing cloth face coverings
- Before and after making deliveries, including after picking up from drop-boxes and customer pickups
- After touching frequently touched surfaces, such as doorbells or door handles
- Before wearing and after removing cold-weather gloves
- Before and after pumping gas
Interacting with co-workers. As workers interact with each other they are
- Encouraged to practice sensible social distancing and maintain six feet between co-workers where possible.
- Discouraged from using other workers’ tools and equipment.
- Asked to stay home if they feel sick.
Employer provided protection. Employers are strongly encouraged to provide variety of supplies to help protect workers which include:
- Gloves and masks
- Tissues, as well as disinfectants and disposable towels workers can use to clean work surfaces, including vehicle interiors.
Honeywell Devices that Make Last Mile Delivery Safer
In order to avoid contact during delivery, last mile drivers equipped with the right mobility solutions can perform accurate pickup, real-time communications and route planning to the final delivery point.
CT60 Mobile Computer. Honeywell CT60 mobile computers are designed for delivery drivers that require real-time connectivity to business-critical applications. At every doorstep, the CT60 mobile computer enables the driver to scan the items and verify delivery with photos or SMS which can be sent to the customer as proof-of-delivery. The CT60’s sound recorder application can also capture the customer’s voice as a signature instead of requiring them to touch the device, resulting in a contactless delivery. The CT60 scan engine reads barcodes that are damaged or poorly printed at non-traditional fulfilment centers with ease, ensuring that packages that would not have been delivered reach their destination.
ProntoForms. In last mile deliveries, it’s imperative to reduce contact. ProntoForms is a third-party custom app platform for easily adapting or building custom delivery workflows with no-touch delivery confirmation. The platform’s rich data capabilities allow drivers to capture photos as proof of delivery or record audio ‘signatures’ to confirm customer receipt. Its pre- and post-service web form option means customers can both state their preparedness for delivery—including adherence to safety regulations—and also provide post-delivery feedback. ProntoForms drives process refinement where it’s needed most and keeps deliveries safe in the hands of drivers.
Honeywell Smart Talk. In the fulfilment center, daily team huddles to review delivery tasks before driver dispatch would normally require associates to be closer than the current social distancing recommendations. With a mobility communications application, a pre-recorded message can be delivered to device enabled drivers before they begin their routes. This eliminates the need for people to form groups and still allows drivers to receive important messages. Backend analytics can ensure driver compliance. Honeywell Smart Talk is a unified communications solution that can be added to the Honeywell CT60 Mobile Computer or to mobile devices drivers already carry. Delivery drivers carrying a mobile device running Honeywell Smart Talk are always connected and can access critical information from company headquarters or from other drivers. It minimizes contact as they continue to maintain a safe distance between others, while keeping their focus on meeting delivery requirements.
RP4 Mobile Printers. RP4 mobile printers provide last minute relabeling capability to the delivery drivers for incorrect or misaddressed shipments. This eliminates the need to send the package back to the fulfilment center for relabeling, reducing the number of people coming into contact with the package before it reaches the customer. Printing a new shipping label en-route saves time and avoids additional relabeling. The integrated WiFi, Bluetooth and rechargeable battery of the RP4 are designed to last an entire delivery shift, reducing driver downtime and keeping them delivering critical orders.
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1 Solidarity in the last mile in the face of COVID-19
2 Coronavirus pushes fleets to rethink the last mile
3 Drivers on the Pandemic Frontlines
4 What Mail and Parcel Delivery Drivers Need to Know about COVID-19