Automotive Research
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STEERS - towardS inTelligEnt intER-hub logiStics

An efficient and sustainable logistics process is essential for logistics companies to remain competitive and to manage the dynamic demands and service requirements. Specifically, the first- and last-mile hub-to-hub (inter) logistics is one of the most difficult operations to manage due to low volumes, repetitive operation and short-distance transport, and relatively high waiting times. The focus of STEERS is to explore the real-life challenges associated with the logistics operation in a small-to-medium size logistics hub and investigate the potential of intelligent and connected technology to address such challenges. 

With the advancements in Industry 4.0 technologies (Internet of Things, Big Data, Cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence), the consortium partners expect that the intelligent and connected technology is a viable solution to improve operational efficiency, coordination, and sustainability of this inter-hub logistics. Despite the promising potential, the impact of technology on inter- and intra-hub (inside hub) logistics operations (such as transportation, communication, and planning) is not well-established.

This project will investigate the requirements for the application of automated vehicles in inter-hub transportation and simultaneously explore the potential of intelligent inter-hub corridors. Additionally, inter-hub communications will also provide the opportunity to explore their potential impact on the planning and coordination of intra-hub activities, with an explicit focus on the changing role of human planners. It combines the knowledge of education and research institutes (Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen, The University of Twente and Hogeschool Rotterdam), logistics industry partners (Bolk Container Transport and Combi Terminal Twente) and public institutes (XL Business Park, Port of Twente and Regio Twente).

The insights obtained in this exploratory study will serve as a foundation for the follow-up RAAK-PRO project, in which real-world demonstrators will be developed and tested inside XL Business Park.

Work Packages

WP-1: Routine challenges and data collection (UT, HAN)

  • Prepare questionnaire and conduct interviews with appropriate personnel, focusing on o What are the routine challenges?
    • How they vary during the week or days?
    • How they handle them?
    • How can intelligent and connected technology solutions address these challenges, and what are the expectations of involved human planners?
  • Prepare a representative data-set with associated challenges (Milestone-1)

WP-2: Feasibility analysis (HAN, HR)

  • Process the challenges into clusters/sub-clusters such that the following are applicable:
    • Intra-hub intelligence
    • Inter-hub connectivity
    • Automated vehicles
  • Define requirements and necessary interactions between the clusters
  • State-of-the-art review for a feasible combination of technologies to address the needs and interactions
  • Definition of KPIs per cluster
  • Summarize technologies for clusters (logistics challenges) and respective reference KPIs (Milestone-2)

WP3 – Preliminary proof-of-concept (UT, HAN)

  • Develop elementary process models for depicting challenges of WP-1
  • Integration of feasible technology in the process models
  • Determine KPIs using representative data-set of WP-1 (Milestone-3)

WP4 – Dissemination (HAN, HR, UT)

  • Workshop to discuss finding and results of WP1-3 (Milestone-4)
  • Networking to build a consortium for the RAAK-PRO proposal and concretize the project scope.
  • A concept paper on the multi-disciplinary approach for addressing inter- and intra-hub logistics challenges, primarily focusing on intelligent and connected technology (Deliverable-1)
  • A preliminary projection of the expected impact of intelligent and connected inter-hub logistics (Deliverable-2).
  • A concept paper on changing role of human planners in the hub-to-hub logistics chain (Deliverable-3)