One of the main aspects of the vision stated in the White Paper “Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system” (2011) refers to clean urban transport. Currently, urban transport is responsible for about a quarter of CO2 emissions from transport and 69% of road accidents. However, urban areas provide good opportunities for the introduction of more sustainable technologies. The improvements shall be done in both passenger and freight transport.
An important solution is the gradual phasing out of conventionally-fueled vehicles from the urban environment towards more sustainable alternatives. This would help to reduce oil dependence, greenhouse gas emissions and local air and noise pollution. At this point, the role of last-mile freight transport is important as it provides good opportunities for introducing innovative solutions.
SMARTFUSION was an EU project under the FP7 program aimed to demonstrate novel transport innovations that would allow to improve cost efficiency, social aspects and environmental sustainability of urban freight in last mile operations and the related urban/inter-urban shipment processes. The solutions from four fields were combined:
A big range of stakeholders was engaged in different stages of the project in order to tailor the solutions to the specific needs for three demonstration sites and increase awareness of the project outcome.
As a result of the SMARTFUSION project a Smart Urban Freight Designer tool was developed. This is an IT-based tool that simulates logistics scenarios and allows operators to calculate and optimize urban and inter-urban shipments and to make comparisons between different scenarios based on cost efficiency. The tool is intended to promote discussion between the players, and to present the potential for electro-mobility.
The SMARTFUSION concept was tested in three cities: Berlin, (Germany) Newcastle upon Tyne (UK) and Como (Italy). The demonstrations had a specific focus for each city.
The demonstration conducted in Berlin aimed to tackle the problems of transport inefficiency, pollution and noise on a specific corridor. Hybrid trucks were used for delivery of goods from the logistics center to customers. Along the route low emission zones were established, where the vehicle was driven in electric mode. Furthermore, a new IT routing and scheduling device was used.
The city of Como faced the problem of increased traffic, illegal parking, congestion and emissions. To overcome these problems four solutions were tested. First of them was the revitalization of the City Consolidation Centre, which aimed to aggregate flows of freight consignments to and from Como. Electric vehicles were introduced to deliver freight from the consolidation center to the city center and a new routing system was developed. Lastly, changes in access rules to the city center were applied.
The SMARTFUSION project in Newcastle was realized within the Newcastle University campus. The solutions implemented within the project were to establish a delivery and servicing plan for campus deliveries, the introduction of electric vehicles for these deliveries and the application of IT technology to support routing and scheduling of the electric vehicles.
From the conducted demonstrations the following results were obtained:
The main goal of the demonstration was not to reduce CO2 from the whole delivery, but to switch off the diesel motor completely for a short distances in sensitive areas (e.g. near schools, hospitals). This results in reducing all air pollutant emissions to zero and to reduce the noise levels significantly so that they were not higher than the noise of a conversation of someone on the pavement next to the driving truck. The overall reduction of CO2 emission when switching to electric is estimated to be around 20%.
The main results in the Como demonstration were derived from the new routing of the vehicles. This resulted in a reduction of the distance travelled per parcel of 37%, and in a reduction of CO2 of 39%.
Additional benefits to other externalities are reduced congestion and fewer accidents.
The combination of a new routing system and electric vehicles resulted in a reduction in the number of vehicles visiting the university by 83% and a significant reduction in CO2 (estimated at 400 tonnes per year).
The outcomes of SMARTFUSION showed the success of application of combined solutions covering four areas: green vehicle technologies, urban consolidation centers, planning and telematics in urban delivery and freight policies. The wider application of these solutions would achieve significant benefits in terms of pollution, noise and congestion reduction. In order to maximise the impact and to fine-tune solutions the project brought together the partners and various external stakeholders.
The further deployment of the proposed solutions can be achieved by increasing stakeholder awareness (of those engaged in the transport process) about the positive effects achieved. The first step in this direction has already been taken by creating the Smart Urban Freight Designer tool, which allows the users to investigate the potential of green vehicles for their particular needs. Furthermore, for all solutions, business models were developed to support the operation of the solution in the future.
Berlin (DE), Newcastle upon Tyne (UK), Como (IT)
Europe, Mitigation, freight, technology, policy, awareness
Arnaud Burgess, firstname.lastname@example.org and Maria Rodrigues, email@example.com