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24th September 2013 - Amsterdam
STRAIGHTSOL Demonstration Results Workshop/Exhibition

Venue: Passenger Terminal, Piet Heinkade 41 | 1019 BR Amsterdam

Poster Presentations

Powerpoint presentations

Workshop report

The event comprised introductory presentations of the Straightsol project, by Olav Eidhammer (TOI), and of the evaluation framework, by Cathy Macharis (VUB) and Hans Quak (TNO), followed by a poster exhibition session, with an A0 poster for each demonstration. Other invited projects also took part in the exhibition: Frevue, Citylog, Smartfusion. The audience were invited to post sticky notes beside the posters stating what they liked (or disliked) about the demonstrations, areas for exploitation, and any queries or concerns they had. These comments were then discussed in a feedback session. The discussions for each demonstration are now summarised, supplemented by further commentary on the issues raised:

TNT Express - Mobile depot for last mile deliveries and pick-ups

Plus points and potential for further exploitation
The overall response to this demonstration was very positive. Most positive reactions were linked to the potential environmental benefit (e.g. CO2 reduction) if the mobile depot concept would be more generally adopted. The workshop participants indicated that the solution is particularly well suited for large towns and cities. Suggestions were made to share a mobile depot between several express delivery service providers. Expanding the mobile depot concept through synergy is a possible option for TNT Express because it would create the high stop density that is needed. There would be, on the other hand, a number of practical obstacles that would have to be overcome, e.g. matching the different computer systems. Another idea that came up during the workshop was that the mobile depot could also handle returns and personal collection of shipments. TNT Express equipped the mobile depot with all the facilities that are needed for that. However, they did not test this during the demonstration phase in order not to make operations too complex. But it is definitely something to consider for future use.

Issues raised
The main concern raised was the financial viability of the concept. In the demonstration, deliveries and pick-ups were twice as expensive compared to pick-ups and deliveries with diesel vans. However, the demonstration showed that it is operationally feasible to use a mobile depot for the inner-city operations. TNT Express believes that they can lower the operational cost when the mobile depot is used at its full capacity in a delivery area with a high stop density and a freight profile that matches the load capacity of the cyclocargos and the mobile depot. It was also asked whether the loading and unloading operations at the mobile depot cause any noise nuisance. This was not measured during the demonstration because these operations took place between 10am and 6pm in a highly urbanised and therefore noisy area; however, measurements would have to be made if using during more sensitive time periods. A final concern was the parking location of the trailer, with some of the audience questioning whether other cities would allow a public space to be used for this type of commercial activity, both for safety reasons and since the authority cannot be seen to favour a particular operator (hence the suggestion for a shared facility).

DHL Supply Chain - Urban Consolidation Centre (UCC) for L’Hospitalet de Llobregat

Plus points and potential for further exploitation
The transport cost savings obtained in the demonstration were considered as promising. These metrics were achieved by means of a significant reorganisation of existing DHL routes, therefore the inclusion of other logistics service providers (LSPs) was proposed to improve the profitability of the demonstration. The low participation of the local retailers was seen as a result of the lack of economic incentives for fostering their participation. Therefore, authorities may address this point through the implementation of a commercial tax reduction or traffic calming zones around the commercial areas. It was suggested that the new logistics service could be extended to other public service bodies such as hospitals, education centres and hotels/restaurants/catering industry, which would boost usage, or could include other value added services for receivers such as storage in the UCC and reverse logistics (e.g. return of damaged goods).

Issues raised
The key issue mentioned by the vast majority of the attendees was the particular role of each of the stakeholders taking part in the demonstration. While some participants highlighted the involvement of the local authority as critical, others argued that the inclusion of other carriers and LSPs was crucial to achieve a minimum demand threshold. Moreover there was a general comment about the surprising lack of interest from the retailers respecting the logistics environmental impact caused by their businesses in the city (we believe that, in the present economic climate, this is not one of their highest priorities) and it was also considered that there should be more use of electric delivery vehicles by the users of the UCC. The key challenge of UCC demonstrations is the development of a clear business model where the benefits of the new organisational scheme (25% distance travelled reduction) may justify the new handling operation costs during the service (roughly 125,000 euros). If other LSPs participate, a question that should be determined is the price that the LSP should pay to the UCC manager according to the expected cost savings.

Oxfam – remote bring-site monitoring for sustainable logistics

Plus points and potential for further exploitation
It was asked whether the remote monitoring concept could be extended for use in open containers (e.g. skips) – indeed this should be possible although would require a different type of sensor, for example, a weight sensor. As vandalism and theft was a problem during the demonstration it was suggested that the approach may be better suited to where containers are located inside a building. However, moving containers indoors is not really an option for Oxfam, as they don't own the sites used and the idea would seem to have rather limited application elsewhere. A novel idea put forward was for sensors in near-empty banks to request donations via Twitter or similar media – "feed me"!

Issues raised
The portability of sensors was asked about – to allow a sensor to be moved from one container to another. This depends on the method used to fix them to the banks. At the most portable level one can use Velcro but in the demonstration, heavy duty brackets were used for more robustness and security but reduced portability. Reliability of transmissions from the sensors was a concern, particularly when they are installed in containers using thick steel. In the demonstration, the sensors were improved to tackle this particular problem. As for many of the demonstrations, a key question is whether the benefits outweigh the costs. In the demonstration, the benefits were fairly modest (3.2% reduction in distance travelled), as fixed collection days for shops were required. However, a more convincing business case can be made where fixed collections do not have to be made, as distance savings of around 25% have been found in similar waste collection applications (Johansson (2006), Krikke et al (2008)).

Kuehne and Nagel (K+N) – Rail tracking and warehouse management

Plus points and further exploitation
It was noted that the bundling of different shipments in block trains through the Balkans towards the same destination is cost effective but highly challenging, given the requirements for up to date cargo location and status information to be made available to all the involved stakeholders. The potential for reduced haulier times and avoidance of wasted trips to K+N’s terminal were also recognised. Also, given the warehouse capacity, K+N’s premises may operate as a small distribution centre, providing short and medium term warehousing. Moreover, the broadening of the demonstration concept, adopted by the local and regional logistics service providers (K+N's competitors), is expected to provide scope for some extra reduction of operational costs.

The Hellenic Railways’ potential adoption of the demonstration concept might have seemed an interesting option and a great opportunity up until now, but, due to the economic recession, there has been no progress in this direction yet. However, according to the latest news, VTG rail logistics (Germany) and K+N have recently contracted a deal to merge their rail freight transport activities, towards the establishment of one of the biggest rail freight transport and logistics operators in Europe. This will enable further integration, economies of scale and cost reductions. The start of their collaboration has been programmed for the beginning of 2014, setting new standards in the economic viability of the concept, leading to possible operational cost reduction and maximization of benefits both for the company and for K+N’s customers and society.

Issues raised
The benefit for K+N is not a given and the viability of the investment may be jeopardized, unless K+N decides to charge the monitoring of rail wagons and the provision of real time information, which, for the time being, is free of charge for promotional reasons. Furthermore, some technical issues have to be resolved, associated with battery life of the GPS devices and data transmission to K+N's communication server.

The demonstration deployment is in its initial phase and the concept is applied at a small scale, involving the monitoring of only a few wagons and so, as the customers’ buy-in remains a fundamental question and the technical problems still remain, there will be no roll-out scenarios until these issues are solved. Also, it was noticed that the benefits to end customers have not yet been proven in monetary and time units. All those concerns are expected to be further elaborated and analysed once the demonstration deployment is applied at a larger scale.

GS1 (Norway) – Information sharing in last mile distribution

Plus points and potential for further exploitation
Several interesting extensions and directions for further exploitation were proposed. Delivery of pharmaceutical products is indeed one area where improved tracing and information is of interest. Among the other proposed solutions, we also see the potential for extending these concepts out of the shopping centre context. The suggested idea of a mini consolidation centre in streets is currently being planned by the municipality of Oslo for deliveries to shops in a central part of the city. Also, the possibility for retailers with multiple vendors to be integrated into a more coordinated delivery pattern could be of interest. The last suggested extension is to extend from pallet level to piece level, and from last mile to the full supply chain. This is a goal of GS1, and would create additional benefits, but in the demonstration context it was a necessary to limit the scope. It was also suggested that the shop floor could be integrated into the system.

Issues raised
A question asked was under what circumstances does the concept pay off? There is no easy answer, but we believe that it will be possible to find implementations that are financially profitable. The main obstacle appears to be identification of mechanisms and business models for sharing of revenues and costs. For example, the demonstration clearly showed cost reductions in the last mile distribution, as the delivery drivers no longer delivered directly to the individual shops but perhaps these some of these cost savings should be passed onto other stakeholders. Another pertinent issue raised, with no easy answer, is how priorities should be allocated if there are a multitude of receivers in a shopping mall all being served by a relatively small in-house team (in the demonstration it was only one person).

EMEL - Loading / unloading operations management and regulations

Plus points and potential for further exploitation
The solution of using technology to tackle illegal parking affecting freight operations was generally liked as a way of addressing such a crucial problem in urban logistics, where ‘reaction time’ is the key. Actually this is one of the goals of EMEL for adopting such a solution – to decrease the response time of parking officers in reacting to illegal parking in parking spaces dedicated to freight operations.

It was also suggested that the use of parking sensors would allow the implementation of such a scheme in which the parking availability would be adjusted according to the load volume of vehicles – for instance only vehicles with a load percentage above a certain threshold would be allowed to park in certain areas. Although this might be an interesting development in the future, it is neither feasible with the current technology nor with the actual regulations that have been implemented as a direct result of the EMEL demonstration.

Issues raised
Most of the questions raised concerned the technology: how reliable is it?; do the sensors work in harsh weather conditions like those in northern Europe?; and is it transferable to other European cities? In terms of reliability, there were indeed some issues raised during the demo with both technologies (sensors and adapted parking meters). These were addressed by EMEL, who decided to launch a tender to find a better, more reliable technology than those tested. Once chosen, this newer technology will then be applied to the whole city. Regarding the weather conditions it is not possible to answer the question precisely. The solutions were designed for application in Lisbon, where there aren’t negative temperatures or snow which could impair sensor performance. However this issue could probably be addressed by the supplier in case of need. Regarding the transferability, it seems to be viable, regardless of the weather conditions. However the regulations in power must be changed/designed so that they could merge well with such a technology – this is what has been done in Lisbon, where a new regulation has been designed and implemented to fit the use of a technological solution. Finally it was asked whether the use of the technology was just a means for the city authority to generate revenue. In fact one of the goals is that the new technology becomes part of a broader scheme which is as sustainable as possible. As such, generating revenue is not out of the possibility here. However, being a public authority, the first objective is always within the social welfare scope.

Colruyt and Delhaize – Night deliveries to Brussels supermarkets

Plus points and potential for further exploitation
At the time the workshop took place, this demonstration had not started. The poster presented the objectives of the demonstration as well as a detailed explanation of when, how and where the demonstration will take place. The audience were positive about the attention that will be paid to noise-related problems. It was suggested to broaden the scope of night deliveries to waste collection and other sectors such as fashion. It was also asked whether night deliveries could be compatible with locker boxes for smaller B2B and/or B2C deliveries.

Issues raised
The impact on traffic safety was questioned because of the possible fatigue of the drivers at night. In line with that, other workshop participants asked whether it would not be better to focus on the evening hours rather than on the night. For Colruyt and Delhaize, delivering during the evening hours certainly is an option. However, for this demonstration, they want to do the deliveries at different times of the night in order to assess the difference in impact for all stakeholders. Although most people were positive about the precautions Colruyt and Delhaize will take to keep the noise nuisance to a minimum, concerns were raised about the cumulative effect on noise if night deliveries become a common practice.


Johansson, O. M.,2006. The effect of dynamic scheduling and routing in a solid waste management system. Waste Management, Vol. 26, No. 8, pp. 875-885.

Krikke, H., le Blanc, I., van Krieken, M., and Fleuren, H.,2008. Low-frequency collection of materials disassembled from end-of-life vehicles: On the value of on-line monitoring in optimizing route planning International Journal of Production Economics, Vol. 111, No. 2, pp. 209-228.

Further details:

Demonstration A: Urban Consolidation Centre in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat

Demonstration B: City logistics mobile depot in Brussels

Demonstration C: Remote 'bring-site' monitoring for more reactive and sustainable logistics

Demonstration D: Rail tracking and warehouse management

Demonstration E: Retail supply chain management and "last mile" distribution by use of standardized information

Demonstration F: Night-time distribution in Brussels

Demonstration G: Municipal regulation of loading and unloading of freight in Lisbon



Project Final Review meeting, Brussels

Smart Urban Freight Conference hosted by NewRail, Newcastle University, including contributions from Straightsol project
[Conference webpage]

Evaluation Framework Training Sessions, Newcastle University

Open ENLoCC event, Brussels, including presentation of Colruyt and Delhaize night-time deliveries demonstration

Demonstration Results Workshop/Exhibition in Amsterdam

TNT Express demonstration workshop in Brussels

Oxfam demonstration workshop in Batley, near Leeds, UK

DHL Supply Chain demonstration workshop in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat/Barcelona, Spain

Oslo: Demonstration workshop
Smart Urban Transport - Standardising information in retail supply chain management and last-mile distribution


Thessaloniki: Demonstration workshop
"Intelligent" systems for the interconnection of urban-interurban freight transport


Brussels: STRAIGHTSOL project workshop on Smart Urban Freight Solutions
(in collaboration with the Smartfusion partnership)