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

Final Report Summary - KOMODA (Co-modality - towards optimised integrated chains in freight transport logistics)

KOMODA project aims at creating a vision of a Europe wide e-logistics system supporting co-modality i.e. optimal use of the transport resources in terms of expenses and environmental impact. KOMODA follows a bottom-up approach, with a strong involvement of freight industry stakeholders. The work includes a wide Delphi survey amongst the logistics chain stakeholders to obtain a comprehensive picture of available e-logistics applications used in transport operations, their sources, availability, functionality and use by companies.

A desk research on transport and technical requirements complement such exercise. Obstacles and opportunities are identified for finally developing a structured and coherent action plan for innovation and change leading towards an integrated e-Logistics system Europe-wide.

According to the project's investigations the current state of the European e-logistics may be shortly characterised as:
- very fragmented with the great number of proprietary applications tailored to the companies' individual needs, reflecting the fragmentation of the logistics market,
- unevenly developed - focusing on individual, unimodal and national solutions with insufficient support such aspects as: intercompany co-operation in supply chain, interoperability of modes and international transport networks harmonisation.
- almost inaccessible for the great number of logistics market stakeholders. Small and medium sized enterprises usually cannot afford to deploy the advanced e-logistics applications what makes their market position unfavourable.

The proposed e-logistics system is well-matched to the European logistics market realities which is fragmented both on supply and demand side and supported with multitude of ICT solutions covering different , fragmented aspects of logistics and transport management. In this situation the only logical solution fitting to the liberal market is an open structure decentralised system based on intelligent agents. The system is designed as a combination of specialised ICT applications, tools, algorithms, procedures, libraries, data bases and external platforms, working in a common and transparent standard (other standards are converted). ICT solutions may be used selectively by the companies and customised to their own requirements.

The deployment of the proposed European e-logistics system is certainly a long-term and complex process requiring deep involvement of logistics and ICT sectors, with significant support from the public administration at different levels, from regional to the EC as well as the R&D sector aid.

Development of e-logistics in Europe will be driven by competition in the logistics market, technological progress in the ICT sector, advancement in methodologies supporting multi-objective decisions in logistics as well as progress in legislative harmonisation within the EU and effectiveness of implementation of legislation forcing the freight decision makers to respect ecological factors equally to economic ones.

The road map leading to creation of the e-logistics system presents the most likely, 15 years long, development scenario of many relevant aspects such as: ITC technology, scientific methodology of the ICT supported decision making, harmonisation of communication standards, data security, harmonisation of transport and ICT related legislation of the EU members and logistics knowledge management.

It can be assumed that some of the problems will be solved as a result of market competition in the logistics market however it may be considerably strengthened by adoption of the EU funded research strategy focused on the specified areas of improvements.

The report ends with the action plan which outlines in short, medium and long term perspective a number of initiatives that can contribute to accelerate the development of the e-logistics system enabling the European Commission better co-ordination of its co-modal transport policy.