More efficient transportation systems within REACH

​The research project REACH aims to improve the efficiency of freight transport systems that operate between different modes of transport by opening up real-time interaction between infrastructure and hauliers. This will be done through dynamic access management of intermodal freight terminals, i.e.  terminals where different modes of transport come together. With the help of several companies and other parties, from industry and society, Chalmers’ researchers hope to be able to show how information and communication technology (ICT) can contribute to improved efficiency and thereby increased competitiveness and sustainability through higher resource utilisation and lower energy usage.

Stefan Jacobsson is an industrial doctoral student from AB Consenso who will spend the next few years conducting research within the framework of the REACH project, a research project run by Chalmers together with the consulting firm Consenso and several other actors in industry and society. Stefan, who is also the project manager, explains that there are big shortcomings in the interaction between the different modes of transport that come together at centres such as freight terminals and harbours. Decisions often have to be made in real time based on predetermined plans that in many cases are out of date, leading to queues and crowding, and reduced reliability, as carriers can be delayed at the terminals.

– The aim of the project is to use dynamic access management and guidance to enable advanced, digital interaction in real time between infrastructure and hauliers. ICT is one of the most important enablers when it comes to creating a safe, sustainable and efficient transport system, Stefan explains.

By using the potential of the current transport system in a new way, by, for example, combining data sources that were previously regarded as separate, the researchers in the project want to show the great benefits that can be gained without depending on the development of new technology.

– This will allow us to create conditions for further improvements. The project will help the contributing organisations to improve their efficiency, safety and sustainability, and it will also be possible to use the knowledge outside the project, Stefan says. 

Access management in real time 

With access management, a haulier can qualify for entrance to a certain intermodal terminal by presenting the right data, which may come from, for example, sensors in the vehicle or from the infrastructure, or directly from an authority.

– A vehicle that is admitted to the terminal will be allocated a so-called time slot when unloading and loading will be carried out and offered guiding through the terminal to the place where the unloading and loading will take place, Stefan explains. 

The project faces three big real-time challenges: data collection, data management and data processing. Data collection in real time is necessary for the system to function and will come from many organisations and digital infrastructures that will need to be available in an open and scalable way. To manage these huge quantities of data, a function will be required that can analyse, combine and visualise data from many different sources at the same time. The last big challenge is to process the data in real time. 

– This may be the most difficult thing to achieve in a transport system, as the previous two challenges can mostly be solved with a back-office solution. This challenge requires immediate feedback and control of the actual transport vehicle in real time, Stefan says.

Project with several partners and close ties to the industry

REACH is run in close cooperation with the industry and many interested parties, within and outside the transport flow. In the project, Stefan also has his Chalmers colleagues Gunnar Stefansson, Per-Olof Arnäs and Magnus Blinge as well as a large number of companies and organisations such as Volvo, Scania, EVRY and the Swedish Transport Administration. 

The truck manufacturers Volvo and Scania are responsible for vehicle-related competence, and EVRY contributes software and introduces digital solutions. Within the project, EVRY will produce an application solution that the two hauliers Road Cargo and Tjörns Bilservice will test.

– We want to show how small actors with limited resources can gain great benefits with already installed ICT systems, Stefan says, who will write his licentiate thesis based on the results of the project. 

Contributing companies and organisations:
Road Cargo
Tjörns Bilservice
Swedish Transport Administration 

Logistik och Transport Stiftelsen

Hanna Timring
Photo: Stefan Jacobsson
Translation: Gothia Translations AB

Published: Thu 07 May 2015.