Urban Logistics

What is Urban Logistics?

Urban Logistics offer unique tailor-made solutions for the transport of goods in cities by consolidating & rationalizing the existing logistics platforms and creating innovaitve solutions for the future through the use of information and communication technologies. Over the past two decades delivering goods into cities has become a chellenge with cities getting overly congested and traffic jams resulting in expensive logistic bottlenecks. Studies show that the cost of congestion now in terms of time wasted in traffic and fuel consumotion is off the roof, almost 200% (http://inrix.com/economic-environment-cost-congestion/)  more than what it was in the 1980s. Pollution, lack of parking bays, and warehousing costs are all restraint that are contributing to the economic cost of urban logistics.


By 2025 (Numbers and facts)

To give an outlook how cities will need new Urban Logisitcs here are some facts:

By 2025…

  • There will be 35 Mega Cities worldwide, each one demanding a unique solution for their logistics
  • 3 out of 5 people will live in one of these cities
  • Today an average city inhabitants from a developed city generates about 0.1 deliveries per day. If you take this number for 2025 this will lead to 500 million deliveries per day to cities by 2025
  • People will be even more connected (up to five connected devices (http://www.businessinsider.com/75-billion-devices-will-be-connected-to-the-internet-by-2020-2013-10)) and so for 20 % of retail will happen through online channels

Challenges of infrastructure

Due to the fact that in 2012 we broke the record of 800 cities with greater than one million inhabitants we can talk about the fact of the worldwide urbanization. Within the country membery of the OECD, tha urban population was 50 % of the total population in 1950, was 77 % in 2000, and should reach the 85 % mark by 2020 (OECD, 2003). Combine this fact with the already mentioned 500 million deliveries per day to cities we have a very high demand in resources.

The investment required for Urban Logistics will more the double itself from 2011 ($ 2.55 trillion) to 2020 ($ 5.98 trillion). Though the distribution will change. In 2011 32 % of spendings were used for warehousing. In 2020 the expected number will be 23 % of the total spendings.

Challenges of transport

In most of the city centers, nowadays it is a norm to deliver by truck services. Because of the amount of deliveries per day, trucks make up 25-30 percent of all traffic durring the workday (http://www.copenhagenize.com/2013/10/the-massive-potential-of-shifting-trips.html). As a consequence, in many large cities, road speeds during daytime hours already have fallen by up to 65 % in the last 10 years.

The major negative impacts of those number are rather obvious


Pollution, noise and the use of fossil fuel do damage the environment and the people significantly. In Chin only 1 % of city inhabitants breathe air that can be called safe under european standards.



The time delays caused by congestion increase travel times, intentory carrying costs and transportation costs have significatn impact on the economy in cities.

But: A lively and accessible city center is vital to trade and culture growth, which leads to a necessity to use city logistics as a tool in optimizing the use of limited city space, reducing congestion and improving economic efficiency of cities.

Solution for Infrastructure

There are solutions to these callenges. Some of them more simple than others. One of them can be the investement into so called Urban Consolidation Centers (UCC). This basicaly means that many different companies move from many different single company platforms into one common. Those UCCs might be build close to the city but still good connected to any freight arteries. Compared to building just a new lane on the highway the costs of building one UCC are a sixth of the price of a lane. (http://wiki4city.ieis.tue.nl/index.php?title=Urban_consolidation_center)


Another solution for small package deliveries can be the so called Locker Boxes. You can see them in most of the big cities in or near the post offices. The goal is to avoid a “milk run” type of delivery. They can be open 24/7 and can also used for return. The already existing boxes are mainly used by the end user and can only be used limited by businesses and companies.


Solutions for Transport

To avoid more polution in the city center due to a lot of transport is still done by lorries, one of the more simple solution is the extended use of EV trucks. These electronic powered trucks have a smaller radius, but can be supported by the appearance of an UCC. The charging can be done during the loading / unloading and CO2 emissions can be drastically reduced.


A solution for next day or even same day deliveries by now is often delivery by air. To avoid this wastly expensive but fast type of delivery cities could use high speed trains. There are already working examples like in France with the TGV.

The most environmentaly friendly solution will still be the bicycle. They can be used for the last mile delivery and are very fast. Most of the can only cary small to medium sized packages so the capacity is very small compared to an EV truck.



Looking at all of these different challenges and solutions there is no solution that fits to every city. In this blog I focused only on a few solutions but in my opinion the UCC combined with EV cars is a very simple though efficient one.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s