Let’s reinvent the wheel of city logistics, again?

A few weeks ago, I read the online article about City Distribution 2.0 at Logistiek.nl (see here, in Dutch only):

“Stadsdistributie 2.0 is vooral waarde toevoegen”

Interesting title, unfortunately little interesting or new content though. The key message is that city environments are difficult as there are many stakeholders involved, the growth of online shopping and an increased lack of occupancy of retail outlets. The prime demonstrator used in the article is Green City Distribution, which recently received a subsidy from Breda to act as its new pilot environment for their re-new city logistics solutions.

The suggested approach: let’s open a hub at the border of the city and bundle flows into the city with green and clean transportation. The proposed solution is claimed to be a new realisation of city distribution so that value is added somewhere in the chain, leading to the so-called “2.0”. So far so good. But…

I am the first to encourage this fantastic idea, as we in Eindhoven are doing lots of research on this specific setup already for some years. Additionally, our group is collaborating with a few companies already doing this for years, BinnenstadserviceCargohopperLast Mile Logistics, etc. The challenges discussed in the Logistiek.nl article like valid business cases, using delivery points, etc. are already handled in the many collaborations in which the Smart Logistics Lab participates, but is also already being done and demonstrated in real-life. Where is the claimed “2.0” then?

As an example, Binnenstadservice has a successful business case and seems to survive without subsidy. There “secret”? Develop new services which add value to the supply chain… and for which the different stakeholders are willing to pay for. So apparently, Binnenstadservice is already executing City Distribution 2.0 according to the Logistiek.nl article. Again, what is new then? Why do we talk about “2.0”? We probably should talk about “3.0” to be really innovative, rather than be a copy of the original.

Is is unfortunate that the many ongoing initiatives are not consolidate, i.e. bundled. A quick search around shows that there are many R&D and demonstration projects running in the Netherlands, Europe, and worldwide. Additionally, there are many successful companies and pilots which could be categorised as city logistics 2.0. We probably need to be much better to translate and consolidate these findings and learnings.

A first step towards bundling knowledge, pilots and companies is our newly founded wiki for city logistics: http://www. wiki4city.eu. I invite you to take a look, read, comment and add information. Hopefully this leads to more real “new” wheels.


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