Nationwide parcel locker system by end-2017

Mr Tharman and SingPost chairman Simon Israel with a logistics employee as he explained the parcel-sorting automation process at SingPost’s new regional e-commerce logistics hub in Tampines yesterday.
Mr Tharman and SingPost chairman Simon Israel with a logistics employee as he explained the parcel-sorting automation process at SingPost’s new regional e-commerce logistics hub in Tampines yesterday. PHOTO: DON WONG FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Nationwide locker network by end-2017 part of efforts to raise productivity: Tharman

Missing a parcel delivery because no one was home is a common online shopping frustration but it will soon be a thing of the past.

A nationwide system of lockers will be rolled out by the end of next year to make parcel collection more convenient for both shoppers and deliverymen, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said yesterday.

The move is part of efforts to raise productivity and job quality in the domestic logistics sector.

Mr Tharman was speaking at the official opening of Singapore Post's regional e-commerce logistics hub at Tampines Logistics Park.

The $182 million three-storey centre is SingPost's largest e-commerce logistics investment here. It includes two warehousing floors, 150 loading bays and an office block. The ground floor houses a fully automated parcel-sorting facility with a capacity of up to 100,000 items a day.

"Everything in this building is scaleable, which means we can keep upgrading it to meet the needs of the future," said SingPost chairman Simon Israel.

The nationwide locker system will be rolled out in line with the rapid growth in e-commerce... The aim is to have islandwide coverage, while maintaining a "healthy degree of competition" and ensuring the inter-operability of lockers operated by different market players, Mr Tharman said.

SingPost's transformation into one of Asia's top e-commerce logistics firms is a good example of the journey the local logistics sector will have to undergo to become more efficient, said Mr Tharman at yesterday's event.

Noting that there is significant room for improvement, he said: "Our last-mile delivery is characterised by multiple truck drivers going to the same mall or location in the city, often with small deliveries."

Efforts are under way to spur this change, including moves to consolidate deliveries to and from malls.

This will cut the number of delivery vehicles on Singapore's roads and reduce congestion, he added.

A pilot programme to consolidate the distribution of goods within Tampines Mall and Bedok Mall is progressing well, he noted. The average parking time for delivery vehicles at these malls has fallen from 24 minutes to seven minutes.

The programme will be implemented in another 12 malls by the end of next year, and rolled out on an even wider scale over the next decade, said the minister.

Separately, CapitaLand will roll out a solution next year to consolidate deliveries with the same destination, to serve its malls in the west.

These efforts aim to cut the number of delivery vehicles on the roads during peak hours by 20 per cent to 30 per cent within a decade. Goods vehicles take up almost a third of peak-hour road space, Mr Tharman added.

Beyond malls, the Government is also exploring the feasibility of consolidating deliveries at the precinct level.

Finally, the nationwide locker system will be rolled out in line with the rapid growth in e-commerce.

Mr Tharman, who first announced this system of "federated lockers" in April, said many industry players submitted proposals and the Government will work closely with them to implement the system.

The aim is to have islandwide coverage, while maintaining a "healthy degree of competition" and ensuring the inter-operability of lockers operated by different market players, he added.

In the longer term, the Government is exploring more ambitious ideas to make logistics more productive. These include connecting the island using an integrated goods-mover system, which will allow for autonomous vehicles to be used.

Industrial space landlord JTC is conducting a feasibility study into this, Mr Tharman said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2016, with the headline 'Delivering a better system of parcel collection'. Print Edition | Subscribe