Promoting cycling as part of a forward-thinking, climate-neutral, and sustainable form of mobility is becoming a focal point for companies and municipalities in Germany and worldwide. The challenge is not only in changing mindsets but also in addressing the logistical requirements needed to implement a cycling-focused strategy.
Delivery concepts with cargo bikes in freight transport are being piloted in many large cities, especially in courier, express, and parcel service providers. This alternative form of transportation is already partially established in some areas, especially in connection with micro hubs.
There are different challenges when planning and implementing micro hubs. One of the main hurdles is overcoming communication breakdowns between various stakeholders. Both sides, municipalities and companies, describe the creation of suitable contacts as a large gap that can only be solved by a „neutral contact initiator.“ Due to these communication and information challenges observations require a practical solution that enables both sides to identify potential collaboration partners.
This was the basis of DiMoG (Digital Mobility in Freight Transport) by the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences. The research idea for this project resulted from various discussions with municipalities and logistics service providers who identified outreach to potential partners as one of the main difficulties of micro hubs. These difficulties can be reduced or avoided by establishing
a two-way communication platform.
The researchers examined the feasibility of a contact and communication platform for initiating sustainable logistics concepts, e.g., using cargo bike delivery. A trial version was created to enable municipalities and logistics service providers to contact one another in the future. This means that suitable micro-depot areas for implementing cycle-logistics projects can be found, shared, and established in less time.
The researchers used different methods to collect information for the digital platform, such as basic research on micro hubs and successful platforms already in existence, identification of success factors and barriers, and literature research on requirements form the basic framework. Good practice examples for ongoing micro hub concepts were also part of the research and outcome of the project.
Various municipalities and companies were interviewed as experts already conducting successful micro hub projects. On the one hand, the platform allows municipalities or private companies to offer their logistics areas to include existing properties and other open spaces. On the other hand, logistics service providers could search for available space on an interactive map. In addition, the platform contains a „knowledge area“ in which the necessary steps for initiating and implementing micro-depot concepts and good practice examples are listed. This provides an initial overview of options for action, particularly for companies and municipalities that have not yet dealt with this topic.