International collaboration enables a more sustainable city logistics

Results from the JPI Urban Europe project Consolidation and Coordination in urban areas (ConCoord)

12 December 2017

Tom Van Woensel, Professor of Transport and Logistics at Eindhoven University of Technology, led the JPI Urban Europe project ‘Consolidation and Coordination in urban areas’. One of the results is the City Logistics Game. Goods flows in cities are currently fragmented and consequently inefficient and a burden on the urban environment. This could be improved by consolidating volume flows via City Hubs (or Urban Consolidation Centres). Combined with other results from the European research project ConCoord, the game could help to realise this.

Photo: Hollandse HoogtePhoto: Hollandse Hoogte

Calculating effects of policy measures

‘In our project, which started in 2013 and was completed this year, we have collected and compiled existing knowledge of city logistics and placed it in a laboratory environment. A range of stakeholders such as cities, shipping companies and service providers had the possibility to carry out large-scale simulations in this lab and try out business cases with a view to effective and efficient city distribution. Furthermore, several master's students and PhD students focused on subsidiary aspects of city distribution. The outcomes of the entire research project are useful for European cities to calculate what the effects of the policy measures are in both financial and environmental terms’, explains Tom van Woensel.

Game for city logistics parties

One of the ConCoord results is a game. We created it because it proved to be difficult to enable different parties in city logistics to work together’, explains Van Woensel. ‘Each stakeholder has its own interests and field of view. Not every party sees the impact of an individual action on the whole picture. Our game has been designed to clarify this type of problem. It is intended as an instrument to provide insight into the objectives and behaviour of the various stakeholders involved. As you play the game, you also experience how important communication between the various parties is, how decision-making issues can arise, and how you can intervene when things take a wrong turn.’ Players use their smartphone to carry out individual actions, and their consequences are shown on the game board, which is projected on a large screen. The game can be used in various settings, for example in workshops, as a tool to demonstrate the complexity of organising city freight transport, and to elicit a discussion about the challenges and advantages of improved collaboration in city logistics.

Optimal organisation via a mathematical model

The PhD research of ConCoord researcher Wouter van Heeswijk has also increased our understanding of how the city logistics can best be organised. He obtained his doctorate from the University of Twente in May of this year. He designed a mathematical model that can determine the optimum mix of factors for sustainable city distribution. The model takes into account factors such as subsidies, legislation and transport schedules. Other initiatives, such as information exchange and collaboration between transport companies, are also included. Van Woensel: ‘The model demonstrated that, in certain cases, the emissions in cities can be reduced by 70%.’ Van Heeswijk calls for the optimum use of consolidation centres. Almost every city has such a consolidation centre where lorries can deliver their cargo so that the collected freight can be spread as efficiently as possible through the city. In practice, however, these consolidation centres are not functioning that well yet. Van Heeswijk advises a mix of subsidies to support the use of the consolidation centres and financial stimuli to discourage lorries with little freight from entering cities. Van Heeswijk: ‘A national or European policy is needed, so that cities adopt a common approach. If you leave this to the market, then consolidation centres will not work.’

Further information

ConCoord is part of the research programme JPI Urban Europe , which in the Netherlands falls under the knowledge initiative Connecting Sustainable Cities (VerDuS). Besides Eindhoven University of Technology, the universities that participated in ConCoord were Vienna University of Economics and Business in Austria, Technical University of Denmark, Middle East Technical University in Turkey and the University of Twente in the Netherlands. The stakeholders who took part in the project included Procter & Gamble, Binnenstadservice Nederland and Heineken.



Source: NWO