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Project description

In Europe, around 75% of the population lives in urban areas and it is forecasted to increase up to 80% by 2020. At the same time, looking through the urban environmental sustainability assessment carried out by cities and local authorities, the major impacts are generated by food transport.

This impact further increases, following current consumer trends for shopping packaged goods in smaller convenient retail shops in urban areas on a more frequent basis; looking for fresh quality products in specialty and local stores, and online shopping with special home-delivery requirements.

In this context, the U-TURN project will contribute to our understanding of freight distribution in urban areas, especially addressing the special requirements and needs of food transportation, and will suggest innovative collaboration practices and tools towards achieving more efficient operations from both an environmental and cost perspective. The project aims to exploit the opportunities that currently exist for consolidation of three different food transportation flows in urban areas:

  1. From food suppliers to the various points of sale located in urban areas, given the increasing consumer trend for more frequent shopping in convenient retail stores.
  2. From local food producers directly to consumers, which is an emerging new trend in big cities.
  3. From online food retailers directly to consumers, either through a dedicated depot or from existing stores.

The above emerging trends create a new distribution landscape that calls for collaboration and consolidation of flows in order to control cost, traffic and environmental burden in urban areas. More specifically, the U-TURN project will:

  • Analyse existing transportation flows of food products in urban areas
  • Identify opportunities for consolidating transportation flows and define collaboration practices and alternative logistics pooling strategies
  • Measure the impact of the identified practices and strategies, via comparative analysis, financial assessment and simulation experimentation
  • Involve market stakeholders in a collaborative discussion through focus groups, in-depth interviews, surveys and brainstorming workshops
  • Design and implement a simulation tool
  • Design and implement a collaboration platform
  • Conduct pilots applying representative collaborative proposals in practice (real-life scenarios)
  • Propose a set of guidelines (roadmap) to support organisations to plan collaborative transport operations towards more efficient and green urban food logistics, based on the results of economic and behavioural modelling



TU Dortmund University, represented by the department of IT in Production and Logistics and the Institute of Transport Logistics, is focusing the part of the simulation and experiments also by means of the subsequent pilots. This work aims to facilitate the decision making in urban transportation across the supply chain. Simulation modelling will be used to calculate the key indicators used by decisions makers. This will allow for forecasting the effects of potential future developments in the urban supply as well as for assessing the suitability of different variants of supply chain implementation. For this purpose, a reusable application for simulation modelling will be designed and the appropriate tools to support the evaluation of alternative supply chain decisions will be developed.

Different scenarios of truck sharing, infrastructure sharing, and information sharing between transport stakeholders will be modelled and assessed in terms of economic and environmental KPIs (e.g. service level, CO2e emissions and noise levels).

The main intention is to support freight transportation decisions that exploit logistics resource sharing and to help in dimensioning such systems as well as in assessing potential control procedures. The simulation tool will provide the values of the afore-mentioned key performance indicators for each alternative scenario tested.

Visit the project homepage for more information.




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Project partners

  • Intrasoft International SA (Belgium)
  • Athens University of Economics and Business (Greece)
  • Barilla (Italy)
  • Cranfield University (UK)
  • LCP Consulting Limited (UK)
  • Optilog Advisory Services (Greece)
  • SimPlan AG (Germany)
  • Technische Universität Dortmund (Germany)
  • TRT Trasporti e Territorio (Italy)