SEOUL -- South Korea's transport ministry will start the demonstration of urban smart parcel delivery services using a micro fulfillment center, a small-sized logistic center, located in southern Seoul. The automated logistics center will become the base for quick-delivery services using six robots that sort and carry parcels inside the building.
Fulfillment centers are small-sized buildings that have a storage area and a loading bay. Sometimes the small logistics centers have a large-sized refrigerator that enables a cold-chain system for the delivery of fresh goods. Coupang, the South Korean counterpart of Amazon, has dozens of fulfillment centers across the country to offer overnight and instant deliveries of fresh vegetables and meat.
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport said that a gas station operated by major refiner GS Caltex will become the base for the demonstration of urban delivery services. The micro fulfillment center (MFC) located in Seocho District, a southern district of Seoul, can autonomously process some 3,600 parcels using six robots. The MFC is scheduled to be constructed by December 2023.
According to the transport ministry, the MFC allows faster parcel delivery because it does not require the process of parcels being carried to various logistics warehouses before reaching their destinations. GS Caltex will focus on the delivery of small-sized parcels such as accessories, cosmetics products, and apparel at the start of the demonstration and move on to delivering large-sized parcels through cooperation with logistics companies that specialize in bigger packages.
The transport ministry will review the demonstration of the urban fulfillment center and plan the commercialization of urban drone services. During the last few years, South Korea tested drone delivery services for people who live on islets that dot the southern coast of the Korean Peninsula. However, it is more difficult to operate delivery drones in Seoul where its air space is a de facto no-fly zone due to safety and security reasons.
"Through this project, we anticipate resolving the issue of insufficient logistics facilities in urban areas caused by the surge in daily-life logistics. We plan to establish a smart MFC (Micro-Fulfillment Center) within the gas station to create an automated storage hub for rapid delivery," the transport ministry's logistics policy bureau manager Kim Geun-oh said in a statement on November 22.
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