Analyzing the organization UDCs: a case study for Food Center Amsterdam

How can flexible applications of the space and infrastructure of urban distribution centers (UDCs) be organized to help lower demands on space and infrastructure in cities? The application of flexible use of space and infrastructure can improve the efficiency of a UDC, but the challenge lies in the organization of the application of flexibility. A possible way to enhance space efficiency for UDCs is to apply flexibility in their development and use.

Recent research aimed to identify how flexibility can be organized to impact overall societal benefits for the stakeholders in UDCs. This explorative and qualitative research was applied to the case of Food Center Amsterdam (NL). 

The results show that stakeholders have a limited understanding of the potential that flexibility and collaboration can offer, that there is a need for an independent organizing capability and responsibility for collaboration on flexibility and that a straightforward way to divide costs, benefits, risks, and opportunities concerning stakeholder interests is required. Conclusions: Overall, flexibility shows the potential to improve the efficient use of infrastructure and space.

Further research avenues include initiating an organizing capability and distribution method for costs, benefits, risks, and opportunities between stakeholders. The remaining question is, can we organize this to do more with less?

The main points of attention in making this work are seen in how to initiate a collective business and value case in complex multi-stakeholder environments and the need for a distribution method for the financial and societal costs, benefits, risks, and opportunities between stakeholders with different interests, to come to a win-win situation in the application of flexibility. This requires a party to initiate and take ownership of the overall opportunity to apply flexibility, highlighting the need for a new neutral organizing capability.

The main question in this research was how flexibility can be organized to impact the overall societal benefits for stakeholders in urban distribution centers. The research showed, for the case of Food Center Amsterdam, that this requires sufficient understanding by stakeholders of what flexibility is, what forms it can be applied, and what added value it can bring.

Source: Pennings, R., Wiegmans, B., & Spit, T. (2023). Can We Do More with Less? Analyzing the Organization of Flexibility of Space and Infrastructure at UDCs: A Case Study for Food Center Amsterdam. Logistics, 7(4), 90.

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