Wanted: Logistical innovations!
Carbon dioxide emissions from truck transports are expected to increase drastically, despite the fact that truck motors are now more frugal with fuel. During this year’s Transport Forum, researchers from Linköping University (LiU) and Lund University showed that there are no simple solutions to the problem. So where are the innovations?
During a session at this year’s Transport Forum on green logistics, both lecturers and the audience agreed that more innovations within the logistics sector were needed.
Within the EU, we are committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by at least 40%, yet we’re seeing an increase due to factors such as increased truck transportation and the fact that trucks are often driven only half-full, or even empty.
“Poor logistics offsets the benefits of improved motor technology,” argues Maria Huge-Brodin, Associate Professor of Logistics Management at LiU.
Logistics’ companies themselves have, until now, been quite uninterested in competing with green offers, but according to Huge-Brodin they’re at the starting gate and have been so for the last four years.
“However they fail to see the strategic significance of the environment. There are no regulations forcing the issue, either, and both business models and price models that take environmental costs into consideration do not exist,” she claims.
Nor, it seems, is it so easy to determine a green solution i.e. a transport solution that eases the burden on the environment.
Maria Björklund, also an Associate Professor in Logistics Management at LiU, pointed to a number of examples where it was believed things were being made more efficient and green transport was being created, yet the result was the exact opposite.
It’s often profitable to use empty transport; goods can be hauled for longer distances without increasing transport work, but in other cases it can mean that transport work increases. It depends on what the last link of the chain looks like.
“It’s important to determine the scope you’re looking at, the parameters of the system. An individual transport can be made greener, but that means the entire benefit is offset somewhere else in the chain. There are no obvious solutions so continuing on in this way is always good,” Björklund argues.
Goods transport is still significantly more efficient than passenger transport, and if we could move some part of passenger transport, which represents 72% of transport work, to the more efficient goods transport then we would make great strides forward.” This is according to Lena Hiselius at Lund University, whose research areas includes e-commerce.
However there are no simple solutions here, either. According to the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket), increased e-commerce means reduced passenger transport. E-commerce is certainly increasing which today represents 4.6% of retail sales; it is increasing significantly more than the rest of commerce. But so far no effect on transport work has been seen.
The question is, then, how we shop electronically: Does this mean we shop more, or does it replace a few trips to the shopping centre? If we go to the supermarket to test a camera out before we order it on the Net, we’ve increased the amount of transport instead. On the other hand, perhaps we do our weekly food shopping in connection with looking at cameras, which makes calculating the results even more complicated.
“Research has also shown that the more opportunities we have to travel, the more we travel. If we’re closer to the goal, we travel more often, which can result in the same total distance travelled. IT, teleworking, and e-commerce should reduce travel, but we’re not seeing any such results so far,” Hiselius says.
Several lecturers stressed the need for innovation in the logistics industry.
“Why do universities fail to deliver innovations in this field?” Christina Wolf from IVL in Göteborg, the session’s moderator, finally asked.
There are no simple solutions here.
The Transport Forum was arranged by VTI and has been held every year since 1984. This year, more than 1,700 people gathered in Linköping for two days to exchange experiences and listen to new observations regarding transport and transportation research. The conference is divided into 80 different sessions; besides the green logistics, there was also a session on City Logistics, with presentations given by LiU logistics researchers.
Today, Friday 15 November, is an important day for Karlhans Che. It is a day of joy and honour, a day for celebrating the childhood dream that came true. Karlhans is about to attend the Commencement Ceremony at LiU.
How can we plan cities so we avoid segregation and encourage all residents to feel included? These questions were discussed at a seminar with researchers and municipal officials.
Three master's students at LiU negotiated an international climate treaty at a simulated climate conference.
Eleven engineering students from Linköping University are devoting their spare time to securing a better future for children in Ghana.
In the production facilities of the future, the products will manufacture themselves. Professor Wolfgang Wahlster, artificial intelligence researcher and honorary doctor at Linköping University, has a clear vision of the fourth industrial revolution.
For seven hot summer weeks, master’s student Adam Bergner sweated away in Turkish oak forests that were threatened with being cut down. He was making an inventory of birds that breed in the area.
The Young Academy of Sweden is releasing “Roads to science” (Vägar till vetenskapen). LiU researcher Per Eklund, recently returned home from the World Economic Forum in China, is one of the writers.
The student organisation Bus4Africa has got rolling – with LiU students on board. Their first mission: to raise money for a computer centre in Zanzibar.
... Peter Hult, researcher at the Department of Biomedical Engineering and project leader of NovaMedTech, nominated for the 2014 European RegioStars Awards.
Packed information stands and a superb night of entertainment topped off by Hoffmaestro, who gave 200 per cent on stage.
Three LiU students lined up at start of the Universiade in Russia, one of the world’s biggest sporting events.
With the aid of standardised biological building blocks, twelve students are devoting the summer to building luminous antibodies. Gene construction is also an element of the iGEM competition, started by MIT.
Fika – the Swedish version of the coffee break – welds us together and makes us creative. Linköping researcher Viveka Adelswärd has studied a tradition that fascinates numerous foreign visitors.
His time at Linköping University opened up new and unexpected paths for Sandeep Jakkampudi. The electronics engineer became an entrepreneur and is today paving the way for Nordic wood products in India.
Last updated: 2013-11-29