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Project example: Zurich Logistics Cooperative

ZHAW works to increase the efficiency of goods logistics for the city of Zurich

Together with the city of Zurich and five other partners, the ZHAW School of Engineering is developing an innovative service for urban goods transportation. The goal is to use a cooperative platform to increase logistics efficiency and thereby reduce both city traffic and environmental pollution.

The city of Zurich is already experiencing capacity constraints in its transport infrastructure. At the same time, further increases in the flow of goods and the traffic associated with this are expected. Among other things, this will result in delays in the delivery and collection of goods for logistics providers and their customers as well as limited accessibility, specifically in the city centre. The stated goal of the project is to develop a service for the business client segment of the city of Zurich that will overcome these challenges and take into consideration the changing requirements facing logistics.

Using an optimisation model, the effects of the individual solution alternatives on traffic, costs, time and environmental aspects are being investigated for this purpose. “We are investigating, among other things, the effects produced by bundling shipments of different logistics providers or the use of alternative vehicles, such as freight bicycles, for example,” states Helene Schmelzer from the ZHAW Institute of Sustainable Development. The core element of the innovation is to be a coopertive platform that uses an intelligent IT solution to facilitate cooperation between different logistics partners for distribution and route planning.

Building blocks already in place

During a one-year preparatory project, the ZHAW  already developed a prototype of an optimisation model, with the aid of which the various alternatives for shipment bundling in urban settings are modelled, thus enabling their effects on costs, transportation and the environment to be analysed. As part of the subsequent project, an economical and ecologically efficient concept for urban goods handling is now being developed and implemented in the city of Zurich in a pilot application. “Although a new trend toward city logistics solutions can be observed throughout Europe, no comparable cooperative goods logistics solution exists in urban spaces in Switzerland to date,” Helene Schmelzer comments.

The development of this new business model for urban goods logistics is being sponsored by the Commission for Technology and Innovation (CTI). The ZHAW is involved in the project with a total of five of its institutes and has assumed the project management together with the Institute of Sustainable Development (INE).In addition to the city of Zurich, the Zurich Trade Association, the Swiss Post logistics provider, Planzer and Veloblitz, as well as Cabtus, a logistics specialist IT company, are all participating in the project.