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18.04.2018 08:52 Age: 339 days

Innovative logistics: Goods transport industry looks to the future

Logistics is the third largest sector in Germany’s economy and is responsible for a considerable proportion of CO2 emissions and resource consumption. But that’s not the full story: sustainability and digitalisation are leading to further growth and presenting companies with new challenges. Processes as well as products and services must be put to the test – and realising the available potential for climate protection is one of the objectives. This is where the “ILoNa – Innovative Logistics for Sustainable Lifestyles” project comes in. It is looking into all aspects of the industry and highlighting areas where steps towards a climate-friendly future can succeed. The research project was honoured for this commitment today by the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). Dr Heinrich Dornbusch, Senior Managing Director of KlimaExpo.NRW, presented the official certificate confirming admission into the state-wide climate protection showcase to project coordinator Dr Ani Melkonyan.

Pictured: Dr Heinrich Dornbusch (left) presented the certificate confirming admission into the showcase to Dr Ani Melkonyan (right) and Klaus Krumme from the Centre for Logistics and Traffic (ZLV) at the University of Duisburg-Essen, who accepted on behalf of the project team. The “ILoNa” research project is step 296 of 1,000 steps towards a climate-friendly future in NRW.

Markets operate on the basis of supply and demand, and the two elements influence each other. The same applies to the logistics industry where it is customer lifestyles in particular that have a major impact on logistics services. Above all, these factors include the growth in online shopping, the fast pace of fashion and technical trends, growing climate awareness among customers and the resulting increased requirements for shipping and returns options. The reverse is also true: the way logistics are organised – from procurement and storage to transport and marketing – has an influence on customer behaviour. The “ILoNa” project from the Centre for Logistics and Traffic (ZLV) at the University of Duisburg-Essen is investigating this reciprocal relationship, an area that has not previously been researched in detail. It aims to increase sustainability within the industry and thus make it more climate-friendly. “The project is addressing key issues in an industry where a change in thinking is of particular importance for climate protection. This work by researchers at the University of Duisburg-Essen is supporting logistics companies in finding solutions for a sustainable and successful future for their industry. This is an important step – not just for climate protection – and therefore deserves a place in our showcase,” declared Dr Heinrich Dornbusch, Senior Managing Director of KlimaExpo.NRW, at the certificate presentation. As an initiative led by the NRW state government, KlimaExpo.NRW is presenting positive examples of climate protection in and from North Rhine-Westphalia in 1,000 steps by 2022. The “ILoNa” project marks step 296.

A set of challenges: Customers and climate protection

In the project, social factors were considered on an equal footing with the economic and ecological aspects that otherwise dominate in the sector in order to comprehensively uncover the potential available in logistics and to demonstrate the interplay between customer behaviour and logistics services. By carrying out a number of consumer and company surveys, the project team not only examined the status quo, but also identified the future challenges facing the industry. One finding was that particular sustainability problems arise as a result of the high number of goods returned in online trading, packaging and transport distances: challenges that are influenced by changes in purchasing behaviour and increased customer requirements. Numerous companies are therefore working to generate solutions based on the use of new technologies and which, in some cases, are paving the way for new business models. “With customers favouring sustainable products and expressly sustainable logistics services, there is a need to develop corresponding, innovative logistics concepts. Our goal is to highlight solutions for customers and companies alike and thus pave the way for a reorganisation of the economy and society on an ecological basis. We are delighted that our commitment has now been honoured through our inclusion in the showcase and that this will draw attention to the importance of this field,” stated Dr Ani Melkonyan, project coordinator at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Project book presents ideas for the future of logistics

To support companies in achieving a more sustainable strategic direction, the team behind the project is compiling a collection of strategies, ideas and tools based on their findings, which will be made available digitally as well as in book format. Businesses will be able to discover tips for internal analysis, impact assessment and the individual analysis of the relevant system interdependencies as well as scenario analysis techniques. Best practice examples will also feature in the publication. “ILoNa” aims to uncover genuine systemic impacts and create a better general awareness of the intersection of sustainable logistics, production and consumption. 

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