Reverse last mile within the furniture sector
Abstract: Background: Circular business models enables a new life for a product which has reached it end of use. By using circular business models and closing the loop of the supply chain, little raw material needs to be extracted which has significant positive environmental effects and enables a secure supply to resources in the future. A key enabler for circular business models is the collection and transportation of products at the customers’ homes, a logistics activity called reverse last mile. This thesis focuses on furniture as a specific type of product. Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to identify and evaluate a number of concepts of how to conduct the transportation in a reverse last mile system for a furniture company and to identify opportunities, challenges and cost drivers that are related to them respectively. Method: The method used is an exploratory multiple-case study where 15 interviews in total have been conducted. A thorough literature review and three expert interviews forms the basis and context of the study. Three companies working with existing transportation solutions of reverse last mile and seven companies or concepts working with innovative transportation solutions were interviewed. This thesis has been a complete elaboration between the two authors. Each author has been involved in every part of the process and contributed equally. Conclusions: The conclusions obtained showed that existing solutions of reverse last mile can look different. There are opportunities for a furniture company to develop new methods applicable for a reverse flow of goods. A compilation of the parameters used in the analysis of innovative transportation solutions shows that cargo bikes with a large loading capacity is the most feasible transportation mode for reverse last mile operations in large city areas when transporting furniture. The main challenges with reverse last mile are the multi- parameter problem which it forms, the need of consolidation and collaboration, feasibility of transportation modes and risks and uncertainties related to it. The multi-parameter problem is mainly caused by the many differences between forward and reverse logistics, which adds up to delayed and uncertain information in the reverse supply chain.
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