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Co-modality - towards optimised integrated chains in freight transport logistics

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EU freight logistics: sharing the load

An EU-level unified freight and transport platform can result from a logistics software that works seamlessly with all concerned businesses and systems.

Digital Economy icon Digital Economy

Facilitating freight transport across Europe and improving logistics would benefit both the environment and the economy; however, this would necessitate an integrated e-logistics platform between different modes of transport across the EU, a challenging feat. Several IT logistics platforms are currently in use, but most possess private company applications that are not interconnected or even compatible. A unified platform must be based on open standards so all the stakeholders can adopt it. It must also be able to communicate freely between existing applications and allow the integration of existing systems, considering future development as well. The EU-funded 'Co-modality - towards optimised integrated chains in freight transport logistics' (Komoda) project is developing a roadmap for a Europe-wide e-logistics system that supports co-modality (i.e. using compatible transport modes). Such a system would take into consideration different transport resources in terms of expenses and environmental impact. To achieve this, Komoda has extensively surveyed logistics chain stakeholders to obtain a comprehensive picture of e-logistics applications used in transport operations, including sources, availability, and functionality. Existing research on transport and technical requirements has also been considered, while obstacles and opportunities have been identified to develop an action plan leading towards an integrated e-logistics system. Komoda found that European e-logistics systems are very fragmented, with a great number of proprietary applications tailored to the companies' individual needs. The sector is unevenly developed, focusing on individual and national solutions that do not support intercompany cooperation, interoperability of modes, and harmonisation of international transport networks. Many existing solutions are inaccessible for a great number of logistics market stakeholders. In particular, small and medium sized enterprises usually cannot afford to deploy the advanced e-logistics applications, rendering their market position unfavourable. The proposed e-logistics system will match the European logistics market which is fragmented on both demand and supply sides. The system will be designed as a combination of specialised information and communications technology (ICT) applications, tools, algorithms, procedures, libraries, databases and external platforms, working on a common and transparent standard. Once developed, such ICT solutions may be used selectively by the companies and customised to their own requirements. The deployment of the proposed European e-logistics system will be a long-term and complex process; it may take 15 years to prepare a comprehensive roadmap, with intense collaboration with logistics and ICT sectors and significant support from the public authorities at different levels, including support of the research and development sector. Komodo's new Action Plan will outline the development of the e-logistics system for the EU in the short-, medium- and long-term perspective. Realising such a plan may take some time, but the integrated freight capabilities will strongly support industry, transport, environment and economy under one grand plan.

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