2nd pilot project LOOP: deliveries from 7 companies to be combined starting in July

(15-06-2022) 7 Ghent University suppliers are participating in the 2nd LOOP Project pilot. Starting in July, they will deliver their wares to a central city hub, after which the combined shipments will be delivered to Ghent University sites by a green last miler.

Logistically, Ghent University is a very diverse organization: it purchases a wide array of goods and services, these have to be distributed to a great many locations, delivery happens using many different modes of transportation, and there is a plethora of different ways in which the pick-up of goods is organised… These fragmented logistics are the cause of the many (often small) deliveries being made which, in turn, cause traffic disruptions, necessitate scores of cargo haulers and many kilometres being driven in parallel to get supplies to their final destination. This fragmentation is also costly. By implementing this pilot project, Ghent University wants to further its understanding of the ways in which the principles of sustainable city logistics can help Ghent University develop more sustainable and efficient logistical processes and temper overall costs.

The LOOP Project

LOOP@UGent stands for Logistical Optimalisation at Ghent University (“Logistieke Optimalisatie aan de UGent”). Its goal is to optimize internal and external logistical processes, primarily focusing on sustainability, efficiency and total costs.

One of the central ideas is to combine cargo shipments upon delivery in order to minimize the amount of disruption caused by deliveries in the city and also to reduce the distance cargo haulers have to traverse for Ghent University within the city limits. A third step is to make the last leg of the journey as sustainable as possible.

Insights through pilot projects

A first pilot project involving one supplier was initiated during the last years, whereby delivery of goods was organized through one central city hub. The City of Ghent was a partner and participated with 3 of its suppliers.

The pilot showed us that you can create both a CO2 reduction and a reduction in the number of kilometres driven by vehicles within the city limits by combining cargo volume, using cargo bikes and sustainable delivery vans.

In a next pilot we want to apply the same methodology to multiple suppliers. This should allow us to garner insights on sustainability, but also on goals such as efficient delivery and lowering delivery costs for larger volumes.

What is the 2nd pilot all about?

A number of suppliers were found who were willing to – on a voluntary basis – start supplying Ghent University according to the principles of sustainable city logistics, starting in July 2022 until the end of the year. They will deliver goods meant for Ghent University to a central city hub on the city limits of Ghent. There, deliveries from all the different suppliers will be combined to be further transported to Ghent University sites using sustainable cargo vans or cargo bikes. Goods will be delivered at a frequency of 2 times a week.

Increasing the number of participating suppliers and thereby increasing the volume of goods being delivered will increase the sustainability impact compared to the previous pilot. Besides sustainability parameters, the impact on our internal delivery sites will also be studied, as well as the positive impact of a larger volume on delivery costs. Finally, we will increase our understanding of what motivates our suppliers to participate in delivering goods via a central city hub and to change to a sustainable ‘last miler’. Only if this becomes a win-win story, will a breakthrough to implementation of such a system be possible.

As with the initial pilot project, Ghent University is again working together with BDLogistics. They will report on CO2 reductions, reductions in the number of kms travelled, driving time reduction and the reduction in the number of ‘disruptions’ among employees due to delivery times.

First findings during the preparation of the 2nd pilot project

During the preparation of the pilot it was learned that the support for green city logistics has grown significantly in Ghent University suppliers the last 2 years. The greater cargo volume involved in this pilot has also positively affected the price setting of the green ‘last mile’. This lowers the cost of green logistics to a much more acceptable level for a large number of suppliers compared to some years ago. Case in point are the 7 participants in this pilot compared to the single supplier in the last one. Combining deliveries on 2 fixed delivery days (Tuesday and Thursday) also a significantly cuts costs for participating suppliers. It might take some time before Ghent University employees get used to the system, but they stand to benefit due to a decrease in disruptions and the great potential impact in terms of sustainability.

Participating suppliers in this 2nd pilot are Chemlab, Lab9, MANUTAN, MIKO, Novolab, Staples and Westburg.

Ghent University wishes to express its gratitude to its suppliers for their support of the LOOP goals.