Research: a systematic literature review of urban freight network design

Urban reight network planning and the application of distribution innovations are popular fields of research on sustainable urban logistics. However, considerable research on freight network design lacks a comprehensive consideration of the application of distribution innovations. This observation implies that sustainable urban freight research appears highly fragmented in topics of network design and distribution innovations.

From the perspective of long-term planning, this situation possibly serves as a barrier to further promotion of sustainability. The objective of a paper by Zhangyuan He is to analyze existing research gaps of literature to further promote the sustainability of urban logistics systems from a future perspective. This paper employs a systematic literature review (SLR) method, which covers 164 papers and research works published in 2013–2018.

The article corpus involved the innovative schemes of freight network design and the emerging delivery concepts in cities. Based on an analysis of articles’ relevance, the most significant research contributions on both city logistics network design and exploitation of distribution innovations are determined. The two most frequently addressed topics on network design are UCC (collaboration) and public transit logistics (integration of passenger and freight systems. Most articles only focus on single-tier freight system. For distribution innovation, considerable research has focused on electric vehicles (EVs), cargo bikes, ICT solutions, and public transit logistics

This paper has found four research gaps in aspects of network design and distribution innovations. To respond to these gaps, He proposes a research framework of sustainable and flexible future urban freight planning (SFFUFP) based on trends of city development, while discussing further research direction on urban freight planning. The research framework of SFFUFP can further promote sustainable urban logistics from a view of future management.

The authors have found four research gaps in aspects of both urban freight network design and distribution innovations in which scholars could be encouraged to contribute.

Source: He, Z. (2020). The challenges in sustainability of urban freight network design and distribution innovations: a systematic literature review. International Journal of Physical Distribution & Logistics Management.

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