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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/N02222X/1
Title: Freight Traffic Control 2050: transforming the energy demands of last-mile urban freight through collaborative logistics
Principal Investigator: Cherrett, Professor T
Other Investigators:
Bektas, Professor T Piecyk, Dr MI Zaltz Austwick, Dr M
Wise, Dr S Davies, Professor N Friday, Professor A
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Faculty of Engineering & the Environment
Organisation: University of Southampton
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 April 2016 Ends: 30 August 2019 Value (£): 1,161,862
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy Efficiency Transport Ops & Management
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy Transport Systems and Vehicles
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
25 Nov 2015 Transport Energy Demand Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
CONTEXT OF THE RESEARCH: Freight transport accounts for 16% of all motorised road vehicle activity in British towns and cities and is therefore a major consumer of fossil fuels and contributor to CO2 and air pollution. In London, road freight transport accounts for 23%, 36% and 39% of total road-based CO2, NOx and PM10 emissions respectively. Van traffic is forecast to grow strongly as a result of:

1) Growing demand for new ways of buying goods and fulfilling deliveries including online shopping.

2) Expanding urban populations through greater levels of urbanisation and migration patterns.

3) Urban de-industrialisation and the rise of the service-based economy.

4) Increasing demand for outsourced servicing functions such as the provision of utilities and construction.

5) Logistics sprawl, with warehouses relocated to the edge of the urban area result in longer journeys.

Unlike many other sectors, the freight industry has few barriers to new entrants and is a highly competitive marketplace characterised by low-profit margins and a proliferation of operators. Due to the fierce competition that exists, these carriers traditionally operate in isolation of each other with poor vehicle utilisation rates and delivery rounds that overlap, leading to increased traffic congestion, pollution and demands for energy.

Aims and Objectives: Our research vision is to understand the extent to which closer operational collaboration between parcel carriers offers the potential to reduce urban traffic and energy demand whilst still maintaining customer service levels, and to what extent such relationships can develop naturally within a commercial setting or whether a 3rd party 'Freight Traffic Controller' (FTC) would be instrumental to ensure the equitable distribution of demand across an urban area. Our key research objectives are to:

1. Investigate the collective transport and energy impacts of current parcel carrier activities;

2. Create a database to gather and interrogate collection and delivery schedules supplied by different carriers;

3. Use the data with a series of optimisation algorithms to investigate the potential transport and energy benefits if carriers were to share deliveries and collections more equitably between them and develop tools to help visualise those benefits;

4. Evaluate what business models would be needed to enable carriers to collaborate in this way;

5. Investigate the role a 3rd party 'Freight Traffic Controller' could play in stimulating collaboration between carriers to reduce energy demand and vehicle impacts across a city;

6. Identify the key legal and privacy issues associated with the receipt, processing and visualisation of such collaborative schedules.

POTENTIAL APPLICATIONS AND BENEFITS: Our research outcomes will be trialled by TNT and Gnewt Cargo as part of the project and will provide them and other carriers with evidence of the tangible benefits from adopting collaborative collection and delivery schedule management for better utilising their vehicles in urban centres. Should the business models prove successful, they will be transferable to other important sectors of urban freight transport (e.g. construction, waste, food and service-based logistics). We will also provide policy insight to Transport for London and other urban planning authorities into the merits of the FTC concept for controlling freight vehicles entering their urban centres and aiding their directive of introducing CO2 free city logistics by 2030. System designers looking to commercially develop the FTC concept will benefit from our approaches for integrating, modelling and visualising vast data sets for collaborative decision support, and how to navigate the commercial and privacy issues associated with handling multi-client data. The Operational Research community will benefit from the optimisation and gaming models as they will give a new insight into how such tools can be effectively used with very large data sets.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.soton.ac.uk