A digital ecosystem supporting sustainable multimodal supply chains
There is increasing pressure on transport chains to be environmentally sustainable, predictable, seamless and cost-efficient. Most ...
Transport is, to a large extent, operated within a network of many different operators that are impossible to hierarchically govern or steer. Nevertheless, co-ordination and synchronisation are required between the actors and the different modes of transport in order to be efficient and sustainable.
Not to do so incurs delays, the inefficient and wasteful use of resources, adverse impact on the environment and poor customer satisfaction. Historically, achieving the desired co-ordination and synchronisation has been challenging due to each involved actor having limited knowledge on the upstream progress and disruptions of others in the transportation chain.
FEDeRATED, is the EU project for digital co-operation and is based on the building blocks for platform inter-operability and digital data sharing as conceived by the Digital Transport Logistic Forum (DTLF), is seen as the way forward.
Carriers are already moving to green electricity or other fossil-free energy. The use of green energy sources brings with it the need to provide appropriate fuelling stations for carriers. Initiatives are underway to establish such capabilities at transport nodes by making them “pit stops” for refuelling carriers. This requires that information on the supply and demand requirements for the energy is shared to support smart grids and load balancing. Digital data sharing and digital collaboration are the essential enablers for this.
Carriers transporting part loads leads to the need for more carrying platforms – which generates an increased carbon footprint, both in terms of the fuel used and the resources needed to build and operate a larger pool of trucks, ships or rail wagons. The recycling and re-use of obsolete vehicles and their materials when building new ones is possible as part of the so-called circular economy if higher levels of digital data sharing exist.
More efficient loading and scheduling of existing carrier platforms and improved synchronisation can also be achieved by establishing a common and shared situational awareness that enables sequential decision-making and the efficient matching of available transport capacity with needs. Under a comprehensive digital data sharing environment, it would be possible for “just-in-time” approaches to chains of transport nodes.
Green transport involves the many actors that co-produce value throughout the transport chain. They jointly need to take responsibility for the common good achievement – which is the sustainability of our planet. While capital productivity is a concern of the single actor, overall energy efficiency and sustainability in the multimodal chain is an increasing community concern that will only be addressed by collective and collaborative responsibility.
The collaborative, data sharing, co-ordinated approach set out under the FEDeRATED principles provides a win-win for both concerns.
This is a concise version of a longer article which can be found here.