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Imagine a circular and sustainable urban logistics ecosystem, where logistics needs in your city are bound together by a simple, yet elegant platform, like the USB interface. CONTAI has not only imagined this but built such a universal urban logistics interface where everything fits together.

Company:

CONTAI - Ground for the Last Mile

GROUND FOR THE DIVERSE LAST MILE

Imagine a circular and sustainable urban logistics ecosystem, where logistics needs in your city are bound together by a simple, yet elegant platform, like the USB interface. CONTAI has not only imagined this but built such a universal urban logistics interface where everything fits together.

CONTAI offers a comprehensive platform for diverse last mile logistics in urban and rural area as vital part of the collaborative Physical Internet.

 

RATIONALE

 'The Least Common Denominator'  is - and can be at most - the Red Thread for the versatile and resilient solution for diverse and future-proof last mile. This is the core Finding of CONTAI, the Red Thread for the last mile development and transition Strategy. 

Once we find a minimum set of common principles, we can build a common and federative logistics ecosystem in the same way that a sea container made global supply chain true and effective a long time ago!

Then, once the principles are discovered and implemented citizens will see the delivery of qoods already automatically sorted and bundled into encapsulated containers being brought into ground level city hubs. Smart encapsulated cargo units could then be loaded with little effort into the most suitable and low-emission last mile vehicles, taking into account cargo dimensions,  mileage, weather and available resources when allocating a right vehicle thus mitigating unnecessary traffic and leveraging the service level. Some of food and parcel units may make door-to-door deliveries carried by the vehicles and robots, and after that or directly dropped on curbside or any shared street-level space in the city - maybe coordinated by a smart app. When the last mile is not enough, wheeled units could be pushed indoors and back to support easy access to goods.

Good city governance needs on system level The Least Common Denominator' Red Thread to solve both the diversity challenge and the sharing of last mile resources, such as vehicles, city hubs and curbsides.

Immaterial no-cost city hubs on plain ground would allow them to be redimensioned and relocated, thus optimizing the last mile network.

The freedom to utilize any shared space on street level for un|loading any goods by any smart vehicle provides unprecedented opportunities for efficient and diverse last-foot city logistics.

The challenge and danger of such a harmonized and cooperative approach is that we will fail and overdefine rules that inadvertently halt development, e.g. we only allow one size cargo container that is only suitable for current vehicles, underestimate legacy and local assets rejecting them and favor 'reliable' i.e. large operators. - The CONTAI Team is really afraid of the day when a project by name 'The last mile bicycle container standard' has been established!

The words Last Mile have become almost synonymous with parcel delivery, which means goods of a certain type, size and weight and which is preferably transported on pedal-supported cargo bikes, in one direction only. Who cares about urban logistics and service needs as a whole, the continuum for long-haul and automatic sorting, vehicles and autonomous robots with broader features, and what about those people over 50 in winter conditions who don’t want to be ninjas?
Note that this is not intended to counter award-winning and sustainable cargo bikes, but is meant to bring thinking beyond the pedals to find a holistic strategy and realize a system level solution to cover all goods, vehicles, robots, hubs, landing bays and facilities, including the automatic sorting and packing centers purposefully even before reaching the metropolitian area. 

The state-of-art autonomous industrial robots need docking stations in both end for loading and unloading. In addition, the current last mile container vehicles cannot load or unload cargo autonomously but guided and pushed by a person and the container has a rather small, fixed size. These solutions and investments are or are becoming obsolete or incompatible in autonomous last mile logistics.

We really need one common physical platform as vital part of the physical internet that supports federative way the mobility of diverse cargo, storage and machinery, support for collaboration, module sharing and automation in packing, sorting, loading and unloading provided by mobile robots alongside legacy assets.

 

THE LEAST COMMON DENOMINATOR

CONTAI has a system level answer to the last mile challenge: “The Least Common Denominator”.
We need and now we have one resilient candidate for the last mile ecosystem standard. It splits in two:

Physical part: The interface definition for the wheeled universal Load Carrier to support operations on the plain ground; loading, unloading, parking, automatic lashing and the second interface to connect applications to the Load Carrier: cargo boxes, mobile lockers, machinery, sanitary facilities, etc. 

Digital part: The interface definition for the IoT interface, i.e. minimum information about the identity and location of the load carrier that serves fleet management and independent docking, loading and parking. Note that vehicles and applications may have their own IoT. 

The core of the CONTAI platform is the smart interfaces of the Load Carrier enabling a wide range of logistics services connecting resources and parties. Everything is wrapped around the Load Carrier! - The sea container and the EUR pallet have similar objectives and functions.
One important target and support provided by the Load Carrier’s interfaces is the autonomous loading and unloading capability. CONTAI has developed an automatic Loader that can automatically load the Load Carrier onto a vehicle equipped with the Loader. A CONTAI Loader can fully autonomously load a CONTAI Load Carrier from plain ground and street and safety leave it on the street without any docks or other auxiliaries. This is important and unique in the world! The whole process of docking-loading-lashing-transferring-unloading-parking performed by a mobile robot can be autonomous on SAE level 4, but the technology also supports the parallel use of traditional vehicles such as cargo trikes and quads, scooters and vans. As autonomy is particularly important to secure a continuum for an autonomous future, special attention has been paid to deviation-tolerant docking. 

The development of last mile logistics is not only searching for suitable vehicles and routes but improvement of all process steps such as sorting, packaging and multimodal transfer of cargo from one vehicle to another and more. A ground-level city hub with scarce facilities relocates  scales and multiplies quickly on demand basis. City events, city calendar, weather, citizen behavior, BigData, AI and the demand can steer the hub and mobile locker swarm placement and size. A sparsely facilitated ground-level hub is possible if cargo units can be loaded and unloaded directly at ground level, such as with the CONTAI technology integrated into OEM cargo vehicles. The ability to unload any cargo at any free ground level destination spot makes the CONTAI system resilient and effective.

Modularity and support for legacy components enable and encourage a smooth transition to smart implementations and processes without wasting existing assets.

 

CONTAI  VERTICAL

Different use cases and the applications that support them are part of diverse last mile logistics and services. Only the imagination is the limit for CONTAI applications and way of use!

* CONTAI RECYCLING

* CONTAI GROCERY AND RESTAURANT

* CONTAI E-COMMERCE

* CONTAI REFRIGERATED

* CONTAI MEDICINE

* CONTAI LAUNDRY

* CONTAI HOME MOVE

* CONTAI SELF-STORAGE

* CONTAI MASS EVENT

* CONTAI MACHINERY

* CONSTRUCTION

* SMALL BUSINESS

* CONTAI DEFENSE

* CONTAI FARM TO FORK

* CONTAI HOUSEHOLD

* CONTAI GARDEN

* CONTAI SPORTS

* CONTAI FREETIME

 

CONTAI VALUE PROPOSITIONS

'AnyCargo, AnyPlace, AnyVehicle, AnyMile, AnyOperator, evenAutonomously'

- AnyCargo – Any size and any kind of applications and equipment can be fastened to LoadCarriers. The cargo width is limited just by the vehicle characteristics, such as 0.7-2.6 m. The length of app/cargo is 0.7-3,0 m, max payload is limited by the vehicle capacity only e.g. 250 ... 1000 kg.

- AnyVehicle – Exisiting and future cargo vehicles and mobile robots with free space on front or back can potentially be utilized.

- AnySpace – Ground / street–level spaces can be used in both end of the transport for un|loading, storage and service. Enables consolidation and packing of encapsulated cargo units even before the metropolitan area in instead of manual work on the street or in a poorly faciliated city hub.

- AnyMile – Because the Loader can be installed on many OEM cargo vehicle with different characteristics, congested delivery points, long-distance suburban and rural areas can be optimally served even in challenging conditions.

- AnyOperator – Demountable cargo and utility applications with alternative vehicles allow services to be performed by multiple actors.

- evenAutonomously – The Loader supports autonomous LoadCarrier docking, loading, lashing, transport, unloading and parking. Unmanned cargo vehicles combined with the autonomous cargo handling can perform fully autonomous services.

 

CONTAI IPR

CONTAI IPR asset is not intended to prevent the shared introduction of new technology that will benefit humanity, but to coordinate the integrity of the CONTAI Least Common Denominator and make the business fair.

Link to the granted Loader-LoadCarrier patent:  shorturl.at/hASVW
Link to the granted Load Carrier EUIPO Design CDR: bit.ly/2YywgCa
Link to the granted Hybrid Locker PRH Design Registration: bit.ly/3FRN2O5

 

BECOME A CONTAI PARTNER

The CONTAI solution consists of modules: A cargo Vehicle, CONTAI Loader with IoT, CONTAI LoadCarrier, Cargo Application.
Therefore CONTAI is looking for global network OEM partners in various areas, such as
1.  last mile cargo applications, e.g. container, cold box, e-commerce locker, recycling bin, event facility, equipment,
2. load carriers e.g. roll cage, dolly,
3. last mile vehicles, i.e. electric vans, trucks, unmanned AMRs, quads, trikes and trailers
to become product owners or the solution owner as part of the modular CONTAI solution.

MORE

www.contai.eu
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/snarinen / Featured
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/contai/

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One of the CONTAI Value Propositions is AnyVehicle - old, present and future can be utilized lean way supporting and encouraging a smooth transition towards sustainable options.
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Some CONTAI Value Propositions; AnyCargo, AnyPlace, AnyVehicle and AnyMile for the diverse last mile
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One CONTAI Value Proposition: Autonomously - alongside the traditional way
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One CONTAI use case: Mobile Hybrid Lockers and Hybrid Vending machines combine doorstep and locker pick-ups and give customers more freedom.
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Scalable CONTAI applications supports the diversity of the last mile
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CONTAI low-end: An EUR pallet size Load carrier and a trike as one cargo vehicle option, both comply with 'The Least Common Denominator'.
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Image taken from the CONTAI Load Carrier CDR that forms part of the IPR portfolio
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Image description
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CONTAI modularity enables diverse services and enables the sharing of resources

CONTAI TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION 2021

CONTAI is a collaborative last mile ecosystem operated on ground level and implementing the Physical Internet. It combines legacy assets with new.

CONTAI components:
- LoadCarrier – a wheeled variable length cargo platform for automatic ground-level loading, lashing, transport and parking with automatic brakes and optionally with IoT.

- Loader – a 550 mm wide deviation-tolerant automatic loader for the LoadCarriers, variable in length and in load-bearing capacity / weight.

- Cargo Application – any size and kind of goods, container or equipment on the 130 mm high LoadCarrier, such as a container, mobile locker, vending machine, recycle bin, cold box, roll cage cassette, laundry, construction tool, disaster gear, water tank, garden bed, mobile greenhouse, power station, market booth, toilet for disabled.

- Vehicle – any legacy vehicle or cargo robots fitted with the Loader, such as an trike, quad, scooter, van, ATV, snow mobile, trailer. Robots can perform autonomous un|loadings.

CONTAI Framework 'Least Common Denominators':
- Physical interfaces of the LoadCarrier to enable deviation-tolerant loading and lashing with the Loader.
- Physical Interfaces of the Loader to enable deviation-tolerant and automatic LoadCarrier loading, lashing and vehicle attachment.
- Digital IoT interface of the LoadCarrier to enable identifying, positioning, vehicle docking and security.

CONTAI capabilities:
- AnyVehicle – Vehicles and mobile robots with free space on front or back can potentially be utilized.
- AnySpace – Ground / street–level spaces can be used for automatic consolidation, packing, un|loading, storage and movable services.
- AnyCargo – Any size and any kind of applications and equipment can be fastened to LoadCarriers. The cargo width is limited just by the vehicle characteristics, such as 0.8-2.6 m. The length of app/cargo is 0.7-3,0 m, max payload 1000 kg, limited by the vehicle capacity.
- AnyMile - A best suitable vehicle can be used based on conditions, mileage, cagro size, cargo veight and availability.
- Autonomously – The Loader supports autonomous LoadCarrier docking, loading, lashing, transport, unloading and parking. Unmanned cargo vehicles combined with the autonomous cargo handling can perform fully autonomous services.
- AnyOperator – Interchangeable cargo and utility applications with alternative vehicles allow services to be performed by different actors.

DIVERSITY IN THE LAST MILE

The subject of this article is the DIVERSITY of lastmile logistics. It covers urban and rural area material services and connections to the outside world.

It is estimated that 50% of supply chain costs are generated in the last miles. In addition, we have pollution and the congestion challenge of cities.
To be effective and above all efficient i.e. broadly influential, it should take into account at least the following requirements:

The transfer of cargo, storage and equipment should be carried out by the most suitable vehicles. (weight and size capacity, time limits, nature of the route and weather). 'Is a multimodal bike+train+bike selection better than a monomodal scooter or AMR robot?'

Secondly, the variety, weight and size of the goods transported is diverse, not just parcels - there is no single right container size or application to suit all transportation and uses, such as low-step booths and toilets for the disabled.

Thirdly, in order for the transport, loading and unloading of goods to be efficient and flexible, policies and standards are needed (ref. the sea container!).

This all means freight-oriented development strategy vs. vehicle-oriented. Vehicles could be either old, current or future and still compatible with the ecosystem, signifying a transition strategy that enables and accelerates the smooth transition to more sustainable vehicle, even robot technology and not losing the invested value of the applications.

This also means a standardization strategy that goes beyond the smart container. That is, we have to look for the 'Least common Denominator' - to be efficient i.e. diverse.
A 'Universal Load Carrier standard' could be well suited for last-mile logistics: digital and geometric interfaces that enable DIY and autonomous logistics and interchangeability of cargo applications and at the same time maximizing the lifetime of the assets.

Additional dimensions would be: bundling of deliveries, two-way logistics (empty kms), location of city hub depots, sharing and cross-use of assets, city hubs and city ground. In this case IoT, blockchain and swarm intelligence are among the necessary digital support forces

IMMATERIAL and AGILE CITY HUBS

This article deals with CITY HUBS. The city hub is a logistical approach in which distributions with large vehicles is cut into urban sorting and distribution centers, from which sustainable and effective last mile services can be performed by small EV vehicles such as an ebike, scooter, trailer, van and #autonomous AMR robot.

However, if the hub is a fixed structure with e.g. docks, they are difficult to keep optimal; 'always of wrong size and in the wrong place'. Also, some city administrators are against fixed hub constructions.

The CONTAI - Ground for the Last Mile immaterial city hub format is developed to solve these issues cost-effective and agile way: The CONTAI ground-level hub scales, multiplies and relocates quickly on demand basis. City events, citizen behavior, BigData, and AI steer the hub swarm placement and size. A ground-level hub is possible if cargo units can be loaded and unloaded directly at ground / street level, such as with the CONTAI load carrier Loaders and installed on any vehicle.
The ability to independently operate at ground level also brings a great opportunity to un|load #cargo in random locations without restrictions of docks or forklifts. Wheeled load carriers can also make the last-foot leg when last-mile is not enough. CONTAI LoadCarrier can also be handled with a forklift to support multimodal line haul connections.

Operators have zero investments and they (actually we!) only pay for use and this may encourage hub sharing.

Efforts to minimize city hub facilities and costs also implies the fact (regardless of the type of hub), that sorting and consolidation should already be done in the terminals, factories and e-commerce grocery storage upstream in the supply chain, where it has better automation readiness and as many shipments and mobile lockers as possible are brought encapsulated for spreading out from the city hubs.

Such an immaterial city hub can take place on curbside, in the parking lot of the market, parking area and hall, event exit, station, small and bigger, adaptive way.

AUTONOMOUS LAST-MILE AND AUTOMATIC BRAKES

This article deals with the requirements of AUTONOMOUS urban logistics, more specifically, AUTOMATIC PARKING BRAKES of wheeled containers and other freight units. In addition, other functions required for autonomy include e.g. automatic docking, load lashing, and protection against vandalism and theft.

Automatic parking brakes of encapsulated load units are necessary as unmanned commercial vehicles become more common, but they also speed up and simplify manual load handling - safely. Urban freight applications include e.g. smart containers, roll cage cassettes, cold boxes, water tanks, mobile food and parcel lockers, recycling bins, movable cultivation boxes and greenhouses, market seller and other booths, power stations and machines.

Autonomous loading and unloading of a load unit consists of the following steps:
Docking - loading - lashing - transport - unloading - detatching - parking. Parking is discussed now.

Qualified cargo unit parking requires the load unit to be left securely on the ground, i.e. it must not roll alone to sea on a sloping surface or in the wind. On the other hand, a wheeled load unit must be capable of being moved manually to perform last-foot service and loading and unloading require the wheels to rotate freely.

CONTAI Finland has developed and patented a solution where loading and unloading automatically releases/put on the load carrier's brakes. When loading the brakes are off and when unloading takes end the brakes are automatically locked. The brakes can also manually be released with a dead man's handle like airport carts.

CONTAI - Ground for the Last Mile is developing a system-level last-mile approach consisting of interchangeable load carriers, applications and loaders moved with any OEM vehicle or mobile robot. A CONTAI LoadCarrier platform can carry freight, storage and utility applications of multiple size W=80..260 cm, L=70...300 cm. The LoadCarrier has universal mechanical and (blockchain secured) digital interfaces and automatic brakes to enable factory and sorting center automation, intralogistics, urban and rural area logistics. All loading and unloading can happen independently on ground level without docks or forklifts

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