Urban Logistics Metrics: considered your Service Times in your plan?

Supply Chain & Logistics Metric and Key Performance Indicator

To optimize urban deliveries, supply chain managers must not only find the best route between multiple addresses, but also consider multiple stops, empty running and the service times that you have set with your client. This is highly important in measuring logistics costs and performance.

What is an Average Service Time?

The average service time is a metric that calculates the amount of time that it takes in average to deliver to a customer in its premises.

Given the current scenario of last-mile and urban logistics, it is important to monitor how is your fleet leading their route to service a client, as delivery fleets face many external barriers before arriving to the customer’s doorstep, such as:

  • Narrow time windows
  • Traffic restrictions
  • Restricted parking spaces
  • Detours to approach a delivery area.

An average service time is calculated as:

Logistics and Transportation Metrics That Matter Most to Track

How are you arriving  to service your customers?

You need to take service times in consideration to plan your fleet’s routing schedule. Your client’s timing is fixed; your route to and from the customer’s doorstep is not. Just imagine your company runs a small fleet comprised of small and medium trucks for frozen food deliveries for small retail stores. There are pros and cons for each size, though.

  • Your Small Vehicles have Low Load Capacities, cannot service more than three stores per trip, and must return to a distribution center regularly to restock. However, given their size, it is easier for them to maneuver through traffic jams and find suitable parking locations near their delivery routes.
  • Your Medium Trucks can Handle Up to Six Deliveries per Trip. However, their size is a significant liability: there are very few parking options, and vehicles must turn around their destination to find spots that are both suitable to stop briefly, and close enough to the destination for the driver to deliver the packages.

Therefore, your small deliveries have an average service time of 15 minutes, and your medium sized vehicles’ timing is 30 minutes.

Just look at this picture:

Truck Small Size Medium Size
Average service time 15 minutes 30 minutes
Daily deliveries 18 18
Total service time 270 minutes 590 minutes
Number of return trips 6 3
Empty running minutes 270 minutes 135 minutes
Empty running + service times 540 minutes 675 minutes


It is highly important to take these numbers into account.

The Case of New York City

Academics from Portland State University, for instance, made an interesting and insightful research about the Impact of Last Mile Parking Availability on Commercial Vehicle Costs.

Their research was presented at the International Conference on Information Systems, Logistics and Supply Chain held in France in June, hosted by Kedge Business School and the University of Bordeaux, where one of the key topics was Smart and Durable city logistics.

Miguel Figliozzi and Chawalit Tipagornwong, from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, found out that that on-street parking spaces and freight loading zones (FLZs) in New York City where insufficient during certain periods of the day in many dense and congested urban areas, and commercial drivers chose not to park in available FLZs located away from customers.

In their case, service times could be costly.  “When nearby parking is not available, the cost of double parking and parking fines can be substantial”, they say.

“For example, in New York City large delivery fleets such as FedEx and UPS paid $550 million in 2013.”

This can have important consequences in pricing and planning:

“Since repeated parking fines increase delivery costs, urban freight distributors and service providers raise service fees to customers in areas where deliveries or pick-ups are more difficult; for example, UPS charges a surcharge in some areas of Manhattan in New York City”.

As a result of their research, the academics saw that as parking availability decreases, costs increase more rapidly for less than truckload shipping (LTL) services than for Courier services, as LTL are more likely to wait for parking than courier services.

 “The differences in costs per customer for LTL and courier deliveries are related to customer service times and route structures. LTL vehicles have longer service times and hence the probability of parking fines are higher if the vehicles are not legally parked.”

As we see, for cost management, it is highly necessary to analyze in detail waiting and service times and track multiple routes to find the best delivery combinations.

We recommended regularly updating data when scheduling routes, incorporating these external scenarios into the picture, to make route optimization more precise and…definitely, less costly.

Are you considering your service times in your plan?

Francisca is the Business Development Director of Drivin, a SaaS transportation management solution that generates an optimized delivery plan, improves customer service, and reduces transportation costs by up to 30% from day one.