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Rethinking Urban Transportation through advanced tools and supply chain collaboration

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - U-TURN (Rethinking Urban Transportation through advanced tools and supply chain collaboration)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2018-05-31

Shared logistics is one of the most prominent solutions explored and adopted over the last years to tackle both economic and environmental sustainability challenges in urban areas. In this context, the U-TURN project aims to address freight urban distribution by focusing on food logistics. The project enhances our understanding of freight distribution in urban areas and suggests innovative shared logistics practices, together with tools achieving more efficient operations. In an effort to cover the key requirements and main trends of food distribution in urban areas, three different pilots are conducted:
Pilot 1: Distribution of packaged goods from food manufacturers to retail outlets located in urban areas in Greece (Athens).
Pilot 2: Distribution of fresh food from local producers and online retailers to consumers in urban areas in Italy (Milan).
Pilot 3: Food delivery from online retailers to consumers in urban areas in UK (London).
The three pilots address different flow-consolidation settings in various market contexts. More specifically, the U-TURN project initially analyses the existing and anticipated transportation flows of food products in urban areas and it then equips market stakeholders with a set of tools that will enable the quick assessment and uptake of shared logistics practices. To that end, the following models and tools have been deployed a) a series for shared logistics distribution models that suggest alternatives ways of sharing resources, b) a smart matching tool that enables the identification of logistics sharing matches among different stakeholders , c) a simulation tool that models and quantifies the impact of Urban Consolidation Centres as an alternative logistics sharing practice d) an economic and comparative assessment model that evaluates the operational and economic impact of various shared logistics models e) a collaboration platform that supports information sharing, the identification of synergies by utilizing the smart matching logic and the creation of appropriate partnerships. Through the application of the above toolset in various real pilot settings by using actual data, the U-TURN project have identified opportunities for consolidating transportation flows and have evaluated the alternative shared logistics distribution models by providing evidences about their benefits and their implementation challenges.
Considering the results obtained in the project, we can conclude that the U-TURN project contributes to better understanding the impact of food logistics in urban areas and provides qualitative and quantitative assessment of innovative, cost-effective and environmentally-friendly strategies in this context. Measurable outcomes and specific KPIs in each pilot by using real and simulated data from various markets across Europe and field studies reflect the impact of collaborative transport practices from the UK, the Italian and the Greek markets. Over the course of the project, results suggested significant improvements in distance travelled, vehicle emissions, and nuisance to society from logistics activities with collaboration in food transport.
Moreover, the U-TURN consortium has assimilated the novel knowledge from the three U-TURN pilots regarding users’ requirements for collaborative food distribution and have translated them into requirements for the U-TURN tools. Hence, a methodology for the comparative assessment of the collaborative logistics pooling schemes has been deployed and incorporated in the respective tool. In terms of simulation tools, the simulation model has been designed and developed according to the requirements of urban FMCG-related supply and has supported the evaluation of a to-be Urban Consolidation Centre in cases. Moreover, a generic smart matching framework for urban transportation markets where collaboration is of the essence has been designed and its properties have led to the development of a novel two-stage matching mechanism for collaborative urban transportation. Furthermore, the U-TURN platform has incorporated the stable matching logic and have been designed to support the implementation of vehicle sharing logistics models.
In terms of key achievements around U-TURN’s impact, the industry was engaged throughout the project with partners’ organising relevant engagement events in the UK, Italy, and Greece. U-TURN was widely participated by non-contractual partners throughout such stakeholder engagement activities underpinning the wide scope of its importance and impact. Such impact is also attributable to a wide range of qualitative and quantitative data collected in each pilot.
It is unusual to observe an immediate impact out of a research project while the project is still running; however, the U-TURN team was able to demonstrate its impact externally by two outcomes that are based on its findings:
1. E-cargo bikes case, which was designed and built around the conclusions obtained from Pilot 3 execution, which is a collaboration between Sainsbury’s and the newly-established company e-cargo bikes; delivering groceries purchased online to consumers’ homes using electric powered cargo bikes that can travel on lanes narrow enough to fit a bike and shorten the time to deliver the orders.
2. The UCC Presidential Decree in Greece was informed by the findings of the Pilot 1; showcasing U-TURN’s impact on policy making. The analyses made on the Urban Consolidation Centre scenario provided input to this presidential decree; immediately translating U-TURN outputs into policy support.
The main project achievements, which advance existing distribution processes and technologies and go beyond the state of the art, are related to the following aspects: a) The formulation of innovative shared logistics distribution models proposed within each pilot context and the insights gathered about their potential benefits and feasibility through close interaction with the industry b) The utilization of the smart matching approach for addressing the needs of collaborative urban transportation c) The integration of supply chain network simulation with a collaborative route planning algorithm for the last mile d) The implementation of a shared logistics planning platform that supports the collaboration among various partners and the identification of synergies by using the smart matching approach. Rich outcomes regarding the application of shared logistics in actual environment have come out due to the real-life applications. The outcomes also highlight project’ contribution on addressing societal challenges by reducing the number of vehicles circulating in urban areas and the pollution. The results from those activities have been disseminated accordingly via various channels towards the scientific and academic communities and via the collaboration with other similar urban freight projects.