Sustainable logistics

Logistics is the integrated management of all activities required to move products through the supply chain. The main objective is to co-ordinate these activities in a way that meets customer requirements at minimum cost. This cost is usually defined as the cost incurred to logistics service providers, despite the fact that their services generate significant externalities to society. More and more, companies and policy makers also take account of the external costs of logistics in their decisions. These costs are associated mainly with climate change, air pollution, noise, congestion and accidents.

MOBI has extensive expertise in evaluating the sustainability of logistics systems and in examining ways of reducing externalities in logistics. MOBI’s main experience in this field covers research on Intermodal transport, city logistics and sustainability impact assessment.

Intermodal transport is put forward as a major alternative to road transport both by academics and policy makers. By combing different transport modes in a single transport chain, road transport can be reduced to pre- and post-haulage, being replaced by rail-, inland waterway- or short sea transport for the main haul of a transport. This results in most cases in more sustainable transport chains. MOBI helps all concerned decision-makers in showing the consequences of a modal shift towards intermodal transport. An important tool, developed by MOBI, is the Intermodal simulator (LAMBIT) which allows simulating the impact of policy measures and user preferences on the use of intermodal transport. Other techniques we apply include Conjoint Analysis and Multi-Actor Multi-Criteria Analysis (MAMCA) to unravel and compare the preferences of different stakeholders. We already researched topics such as: the impact of intermodal subsidization, the internalization of external transport costs, synchromodality, the set-up of new transport infrastructure and the influence of new transport technologies on modal competition.

Contact: mobi@vub.be

MOBI pursues research in the field of City logistics to help both professional and societal stakeholders with their decisions. The focus is the final leg of the supply chain which also usually is the least efficient leg from an economic perspective. Today’s last mile movements are not favourable from a societal perspective as well, since the majority are done by road imposing all sorts of negative impacts on their environment. Our analyses in this field combine these perspectives and compare stakeholder support for today’s approaches with support for innovative measures and solutions. The evaluation techniques we use include: Total Cost of Ownership Analysis, Multi-Criteria Analysis and Multi-Actor Multi-Criteria Analysis (MAMCA) as well as various methods to calculate or model impact of measures and solutions.  Our experience covers research on off-hour deliveries, urban consolidation centres and other consolidation oriented solutions, e-commerce and the use of electric vehicles for city logistics.

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In order to determine the impact on sustainability of different freight transport alternatives, sustainability impact assessment studies are a main focus within MOBI. Taking into account the triple bottom line approach, logistic alternatives are evaluated on their economic, social and environmental performance. Special attention is directed towards the assessment of the external costs of transport, which are a monetization of external effects that are not incorporated in the market price of transport services, and which are a crucial input in Social Cost Benefit Analysis (SCBA), Multi-Criteria Analysis and Multi-Actor Multi-Criteria Analysis (MAMCA). An in-house developed External Cost Calculator (ECC) enables MOBI to analyse the societal impacts of sustainable logistics concepts in depth. Currently, the ECC is being linked to the Transport Agent-BAsed Model (TRABAM), a freight transport model for the Belgian territory, developed within MOBI.
Our experience with sustainable logistics covers not only assessments in the main fields of intermodal transport and city logistics, but focuses also on i.e. collaborative logistics (freight bundling), longer and heavier vehicles, shared trailer parkings, crowd logistics, etc. Expertise in carbon footprint assessments is demonstrated by our role as neutral assessors in the Flemish Lean & Green certification process, organised by VIL (Flemish Institute of Logistics), from the launch of the project in 2012 onwards.

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