Mapping Bottlenecks in the Flemish Logistics Sector
J Maes, E van de Voorde, T Vanelslander, University of Antwerp, BE
Within the Flanders Logistics program (a strategical project of the Flemish government and the Flemisch logistics sector) a research project was set up on capacity problems in freight transport in Flanders.
Mapping bottlenecks in the Flemish logistics sector
ABSTRACT for the European Transport Conference 2009
Within the Flanders Logistics program (a strategical project of the Flemish government and the Flemisch logistics sector) a research project was set up on capacity problems in freight transport in Flanders. A special focus is laid on road the haulage part. One of the selected research approaches was searching for unused or underutilised capacity in road transport. This paper reports on the results obtained in this research.
A start was taken by analyzing data available via the Flemish Traffic Centre. For the load factor of lorries, only observations were available for one specific location at the E313 motorway. This was not specific enough to extrapolate conclusions to the Flemish situation. Therefore, the research was broadened. A series of interviews with logistics experts in the Flemish logistics industry were held.
By interviewing business people, detailed data were collected, which enabled us to draw conclusions concerning Flemish road use in its entirety. The problem of empty or underutilised lorry capacity was discussed thoroughly. The three following research questions were dealt with. Are empty trips limited to a number of kilometres? Is it typical for certain product categories? Is it a regional problem? Can a shift in time of loading/unloading the goods make a difference?
Fifteen in-depth interviews were held, with business experts in logistics as well as industrial companies, in each case from a wide variety of actor groups. Various topics in road capacity were discussed. The research was broadened with questions relating to the timing of loading/unloading, the modal split or shift, etc. Passenger transport was not dealt with.
The first conclusions could be made after the intensive interview sessions. To get a deeper understanding of the problems and their possible solutions, the research was extended, and an online survey was held among members of road transport federations SAV en Febetra. To be able to compare road operator?s answers to those of road transport users, a second online survey was held with the help of sector federations OTM, Voka and UNIZO.
The research gave us a clear view on the problems that logistics companies are dealing with in on a day-to-day basis. A couple of bottlenecks were discovered or our assumptions were confirmed. Road congestion is a large problem, for the transport companies, as well as for the industrial users. Road infrastructure works are asked by all the actors. Measures should be taken as part of a larger plan with a well defined vision. As to co-loading, it seems that logistics and industrial companies hardly work together to organise logistics more efficiently. Multimodal transport is mentioned several times as a solution for road congestion, as well as the shift in time of commodity flows. The differences in load factor between specialised logistics companies and industrial companies, doing their own transport, were mapped.
In the way presented higher, the research project allows drawing well-founded conclusions on the logistics organisation and organisational problems in road transport. The results of this research will lead to concrete pilot projects where the Flemish government will take action to start up and guide a series of pilot projects to test in practice a number of solutions developed.
Association for European Transport