Achievements/case studies

Tsuruga City

Background and Issues facing Tsuruga City

Tsuruga City has a total population of 64,425 (as of September 30, 2021) and the third largest area of 251.41 km2 in the prefecture. Geographically, the city has a typical fan shape, with the urban area in the center and mountainous areas radiating outward. While the urban area is conveniently located with a concentration of commercial facilities such as supermarkets, restaurants, and hospitals, the mountainous areas spreading out in a radial pattern are depopulated.One such district, Aibu, used to be a bustling logistics hub connecting the Kinki and Hokuriku regions, but now has a population of 716 (318 households) and is 3 to 9 km from the city center, making depopulation a serious problem. Last year, the only convenience store in the district closed, and now there are no stores or pharmacies, making shopping a particular issue for the community.

Introduction of new smart logistics SkyHub®

In November 2021, Aeronext, together with Seino HD, concluded a comprehensive collaboration agreement with Tsuruga City to address regional issues such as aging and depopulation through decarbonization initiatives such as hydrogen, renewable energy, and zero-emi logistics. Subsequently, the parties have been promoting the implementation of new smart logistics SkyHub® by utilizing the Type 1, as well as other types of grants. In January 2022, the parties conducted a demonstration experiment of “urban area and depopulated area connected drone logistics” for the construction of a new smart logistics SkyHub®, envisioning shopping support for transportation-impaired residents living in the Aibu area, which is far from the urban area. A set of assorted groceries from a local supermarket ordered by residents via a dedicated app was delivered by drone from a temporary Drone Depot® (Aibu Community Center) to three temporary Drone Stands® in the Aibu area. The drone flew steadily and successfully and completed the delivery despite the snowy weather.

Drone Depot®

Warehouses and storage facilities for the accumulation and delivery of goods at the connection points between existing land-based logistics and drone logistics, with a system that enables drone delivery of goods

→One drone depot is located in the Arachi district, in a renovated former lunchroom of the Arachi Community Center (formerly the Arachi Elementary and Junior High School), and one drone depot is located in the city center.

Drone Stand®

Facilities or locations for drone takeoffs and landings located at the origin and terminus of drone logistics.

→While envisioning resident service and use in the event of a disaster, we are currently setting up 8 locations from the perspective of one landing point per village for the regular delivery of joint delivery packages. (As of April 2024)

Services Implemented

On-demand Delivery Service: SkyHub® Store

SkyHub® Store is an on-demand delivery service that delivers groceries and daily necessities in as little as 30 minutes via telephone orders, from catalogs, and other sources. This on-demand service is an effort to turn Drone Depot®︎, a drone delivery base, into a dark store, which also functions as a simple convenience store, stocking products such as groceries, daily necessities, and condiments at Drone Depot®︎ based on customer preferences and purchase forecasts, as well as based on surveys, all while delivering products by the most appropriate means, be that air or land, according to customer orders.

In Arachi district, customers can choose from a selection of approximately 100 grocery and daily necessities and place their orders by selecting the desired delivery time frame and the delivery destination Drone Stand®︎ from delivery slots set at 30-minute intervals. The delivery fee is 300 yen (tax included). (Delivery by drone is the default, but if drone delivery is difficult due to weather or other reasons, delivery overland by car delivery service is also available.)

Shopping Service in Cooperation with Local Stores: SkyHub® Delivery

SkyHub® Delivery is a shopping and delivery service that delivers products from local stores and supermarkets and is shopped through SkyHub® EC and catalogs, and delivered  to individual homes on the desired date and time. In the Arachi district, customers can select products from approximately 500 items of food and daily necessities from four local supermarkets in the neighborhood (as of March 2024) and place their orders by selecting the desired delivery time frame at two-hour intervals. The fee is 300 yen (tax included) for delivery and a service charge (10% of the total merchandise price). Orders placed by 10:30 a.m. will be delivered on the same day.

Food Delivery Service: SkyHub®Eats

Food from 19 partner restaurants in Tsuruga City (as of March 2024) is delivered by drone or car for a delivery fee of 300 yen (tax included).

Collective Delivery

In December 2023, we started delivering corporate packages in the Arachi district in cooperation with a local logistics company, followed by the delivery of individual packages with another logistics company. We are also working on partnerships with other logistics companies.

Drone Delivery

The project is being implemented with the aim of improving delivery efficiency by replacing delivery to areas and locations that are inefficient using land transportation with drone delivery.

⚫︎Level 3.5 first flight in December 2023
⚫︎10 drone flight routes have been started as of the end of March 2024
⚫︎Promotional flights include delivery of beef bowls and ehomaki rolls

Against that background, we came across Aeronext and its smart logistics initiative, and after concluding a partnership agreement and conducting a demonstration of drone delivery in 2021, we began societal implementation of drone delivery in October of that year.

Since this is a pioneering initiative in Japan, we are working together with NEXT DELIVERY to form a sustainable community through trial and error, including substantive matching of services with the living environment of local residents. As a leading smart logistics center, we will continue to address regional issues as well as improve efficiency and pursue decarbonization in last mile logistics.

In addition, as the nation faces the 2024 logistics problem, there are concerns about stagnation in regional logistics, and a future in which packages will not reach residents in underpopulated areas, which are unprofitable areas for logistics companies. In the future, we intend to further expand our scope and focus on full-scale operation of joint delivery in cooperation with logistics companies that also face issues such as labor shortages and profitability, in order to maintain and improve the efficiency of overall regional logistics services.

Mr. Kazuyuki Yahara, Chief, Reinan E-coast Plan Promotion Office, Policy Promotion Division, Planning and Policy Department, Tsuruga City