Using Amsterdam waterways for city logistics

A recent study by Dutch TNO explores the potential of shifting transportation modes from roads to waterways to mitigate adverse externalities like CO2 emissions, congestion, and air pollution associated with last-mile construction logistics in urban settings. The investigation was carried out within the framework of the Amsterdam Vaart! project, where the transportation activities of sixteen construction projects in Amsterdam were monitored from 2018 to 2022 by a collaborative effort involving TNO, the Municipality of Amsterdam, and the Port of Amsterdam.

This research aims to evaluate the feasibility of utilizing water transport as a substitute for road transport to alleviate the detrimental effects of construction logistics, aiming to curtail emissions and vehicle kilometers within city limits. This assessment compared conventional logistics practices (i.e., road transportation) with an aspirational scenario wherein construction logistics operations are executed via water transport. The validation of this aspirational scenario relied on including monitored data in the analysis.

The findings indicate that transitioning towards water transport can notably reduce the frequency of trips and distance traveled by road, thereby decreasing CO2 emissions. However, achieving positive outcomes concerning NOx and PM emissions necessitates the utilization of zero-emission vessels. Key factors contributing to modal shift include early engagement of all stakeholders and on-site benefits such as enhanced labor productivity, reduced noise levels, and the provision of storage space by barges.

Initiatives to encourage modal shift should be supported to further promote water transport in urban areas, and adequate infrastructure, such as transhipment facilities on the periphery of cities, must be readily available. Overall, the study underscores the efficacy of water transport and logistics hubs as viable solutions for mitigating the adverse impacts of construction logistics.

Though the possible impact on costs was mentioned, this project did not research the costs and cost-effectiveness of the logistics measures. To better understand the impact of transport by water for construction companies on their business operations, costs that are associated with modal shift should be looked into.

Source: TNO

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