Research: a simulation framework to evaluate city logistics schemes

Urban freight transport is becoming increasingly complex. Many urban supply chains are composed of small and independent actors. For such actors, it is particularly difficult to efficiently organize the highly fragmented supply chains that they must deal with. As a consequence, a high number of transport movements is required to satisfy the high service level demands of customers, which has negative effects on the environment as well as on the quality of life in urban areas.

Both companies and local administrators try to improve transport efficiency and reduce external costs, but the effects of such interventions are difficult to predict, especially when applied in combination with each other (an urban logistics scheme).

Agent-based simulation

A paper by Wouter van Heeswijk et. al. (2018) proposes an agent-based simulation framework that quantifies the effects of city logistics schemes on multiple actors. They provide a detailed mathematical representation of the framework. The working of the framework is demonstrated with numerical experiments that evaluate a variety of city logistics schemes.

The study shows that most schemes yield significant environmental improvements; achieving financial sustainability, however, is challenging. Also, interventions such as subsidies and access restrictions do not always have the intended effect. Their experiments underline the applicability of the framework to quantify the effects of city logistics schemes.

Source: van Heeswijka, W. J. A., Mesa, M. R. K., Schuttena, J. M. J., & Zijma, W. H. M. (2018). A simulation framework to evaluate urban logistics schemes.

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