Volvo reduces number of truck trips using a digitalised system

In News, Volvo3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineNovember 11, 2019

The SMOOTh consortium. SMOOTh stands for SysteM-Of-Systems for sustainable urban gOods Transports.

Volvo Group is starting a project in which industry, academia and society will jointly develop and test a system-of-systems in Gothenburg to reduce the number of truck deliveries to the inner-city area by 40 percent.

The background for the project is a study which revealed that a large proportion of trucks delivering goods to the heart of the city do not carry a full cargo, and that approximately 90 percent of truck traffic handled just one-third of the goods entering the downtown area. Together with the IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, the RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, the Gothenburg Urban Transport Administration, Nordstans Samfällighet, GLC, Best Transport, DHL, Velove, Pling Transport, and the Swedish Transport Administration, Volvo Group will lead this three-year research project to develop and implement a digital service to solve this problem.

“We all acknowledge the great challenges we face,” says Cecilia Haraldsson from the Volvo Group Connected Solutions Innovation Lab, who is managing the project. “Everyone sees the need to do something different in order to change urban logistics.”

The research project partners are now taking on the challenge by developing a solution to improve both the environment and traffic flows in metropolitan areas. The physical structure includes multimodal transportation using long/regional haulage to urban consolidation centres, feedering of consolidated goods to a city hub using electric trucks with increased fill rates, and last mile delivery from the city hub using electric micro vans and cargo bikes.

A system-of-systems for urban transports is a complex issue and involves many players and many different systems not designed to interact with one another. 

“What is unique with this service is that we will create a system with a dynamic decision-making algorithm for consolidation and reloading in hubs based on a complex amount of data,” explains Haraldsson. “This is a whole new way of thinking and working in this industry, and it will not happen by itself.”

The project partners want to improve the city‘s accessibility. More efficient transport brings a lower environmental impact and fewer traffic jams. In addition, logistics costs will be reduced and deliveries to city centres will be more secure.

Through coordination the trucks will be more fully loaded. A preliminary study indicates that the number of truck deliveries to the city centre could be cut by at least 40 percent, accompanied by a 75 percent reduction in fossil fuel vehicles for goods delivery in the inner city.

In order to test and demonstrate solutions, the project will establish a living lab where solutions will be gradually implemented, and create an open platform for more innovation and start-ups.