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Seamless Transports and Logistics

Seamlessness in transports is an important ingredient for sustainability. To enable seamless transports, RISE puts emphasis on empowering transport nodes to become more integrated in the transport chain.

Transport nodes can thus not operate in isolation. It is highly dependent on what is happening outside its scope of operations to assure that its resources and infrastructure is optimally used and to serve its direct and indirect clients. The needed capabilities for transport nodes to be highly integrated in the transport ecosystem are offered by digitalization. RISE emphasis for seamless transports is focused around three areas: 1) Digital transparency, robustness and connectivity, 2) Lowering implementation barriers for transport nodes, and 3) The role of the transport node for enabling green conversion of the transport system by empowering fossil-free transports. 

Transport processes are arranged in a setting of a self-organized ecosystem with several actors each arranging a host of carriers to fulfil global transportation needs. Such global transport chains are based on different logics emerging from different transport modes. Furthermore, different industries have widely diverging needs. At all levels, the transport ecosystem is composed of many autonomous transport operators acting in various forms of co-opetition with the joint purpose of serving the clients of the transport ecosystem. These dynamic freight flows are hinged upon a large number of nodes connecting various modes and the activities of several transport actors to one another. 

For instance, 90 percent of all the goods being transported in the world use maritime transports1 but transports seldom start or ends with a sea leg, why it is of high concern to integrate maritime transports with other modes of transports. This puts a lot of focus on the capabilities of the (sea)port. However, to enable a substantial upgrade of the transport chain, there is a need to secure that transport nodes, independent of its type, exercise capabilities to be connected to the outside world. 

Seamlessness in transports is an important ingredient for sustainability, by e.g. avoiding unnecessary waiting times, contributing to high utilization of used infrastructure, and for providing customer value. To enable seamless transports, RISE puts emphasis on empowering transport nodes to become more integrated in the transport chain, taking sustainable ports2 as the foundation for conceiving generic characteristics of transport nodes. In this emphasis different types of nodes are in focus, such as: airports, combi terminals, (sea)ports, yards, railway stations, but also warehouses and logistic centers. Naturally, transport nodes would be driven by different logics dependent on factors such as ownership and actor engagement. A transport node would be operated differently if it is proprietary providing services to one client, such as in the case of a warehouse, or if the transport node engages multiple organizations in its value production aimed for multiple clients, such as in the case of a sea- or airport.  

Regardless of the underlying organizational logic, a transport node cannot operate in isolation. It is highly dependent on what is happening outside its scope of operations to assure that its resources and infrastructure is optimally used. The required business intelligence need to be derived from 1) consuming data on the progress and disruptions occurring related to the movements made by transport operators and at previous transport nodes expanding the planning horizon for the transport node, and 2) to provide transport operators means to optimize its approach to the transport node, and 3) to provide the means to the transport coordinator to inform its clients on the progress and forecasts associated to the goods and people that are being transported, thus providing basis for onward planning.  

Digitalization offers capabilities for transport nodes to be highly integrated in the transport ecosystem. This concerns supporting both the coordination of physical operations, and the provision of fossil-free energy, both for sustainable node operations and for fueling episodic visiting carriers, and as an enabler of the green conversion of the transport ecosystem, but also to seek new services opportunities. At the core, collaboration enabled by digital interaction and data streams will expand the transport node’s event horizon and improve situational awareness providing opportunities for optimizing resource and infrastructure utilization.  

The overall goal of RISE emphasis on seamless transports enabled by sustainable transport nodes is to provide means for: 

  • efficient transport movements between transport nodes 

  • improved supply chain visibility 

  • optimized resource utilization 

  • empowering the transport ecosystem with track and trace capabilities  

  • reduction of buffer zones in subsequent operations due to lacking predictability of preceding steps 

  • balancing between node excellency and contribution to energy efficiency  

  • balancing between long- and short-term planning and flexibility to cope with unforeseen events 

This emphasis is focused around three areas  

  1. Digital transparency, robustness and connectivity, including  

  • incentives for data sharing 

  • governance and regulations  

  • safety, (cyber) security and information resilience 

  1. Lowering implementation barriers for transport nodes, including 

  • adoption of standards contributing to transparency and inter-operability   

  • settling an accreditation practice, such as verified by RISE following ISO17029 

  • engaging the crowd in open innovation initiatives  

  • test and demonstration facilities to showcase key digital aspects in a “neutral” setting   

  • policy research, including legal aspects, and business models exploration 

  1. The role of the transport node for enabling the green conversion, including  

  • using situational and historical data to aid in meeting demands of energy  

  • automation of operations connected to recurring events at the transport node 

These three areas guide RISE in its efforts to establish a project portfolio, nationally and internationally funded, with the aim to make a difference on global level. This initiative will also be connected to the urban logistics orientation pursued at RISE, as well as other relevant initiatives.  

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Mikael Lind

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