Home » News »

Better logistics to help to save urban energy

Photo of the smart city

The project will be implemented by the Swedish-Chinese-Polish consortium, photo: pixabay

Scientists at the Warsaw University of Technology and their foreign partners want to create a platform that will minimise the consumption of energy necessary to deliver goods and services to residents. It will be a central element of modern urban logistics.

– We proposed an innovative and integrated energetic description of a multi-modal system of urban logistics, explains professor Emilian Szczepański from the Faculty of Transport WUT, head of the Polish E-Laas project team. – It means that we are planning to devise models of a logistics system for different ways of load distribution, utilising electrically-driven vehicles, transport bikes or drones, among other things. The models will emphasise energy consumption and emission of pollutants, as well as the connection of the infrastructure and solutions from the Internet of Things with a means of transport and users.

A comprehensive solution

Urban delivery systems as part of the so-called last mile logistics will be compared in terms of energy consumption, modal shift (distribution micro-platforms) and innovative ways of combining fees and parking of large goods vehicles.

– Modal shift means the activisation of forms of load delivery as an alternative to the classic automotive transport, says professor Szczepański. – It is about an extension of the possibility of delivery with transport bikes, for example. It requires placing indirect points, e.g. micro-hubs, in a distribution system, which will allow us to decrease the distance covered by the last means of transport in the distribution channel.

Scientists will also research various possibilities for collecting parking fees in the city centre, as well as fees for charging electric vehicles.

– We want these fees to be developed dynamically, depending on the current energy demand of the urban logistics system, emphasises professor Szczepański. – It means that it will be possible, for instance, to introduce lower fees for electric bikes during peak time and for cars at night time. Thus, the platform is to suggest solutions that allow the users to adjust the strategies of infrastructure use and optimise energy consumption. It will also be necessary to include system disturbances, for example, power cuts, battery failure and unusual customer behaviour.  

Supply systems evaluations will be based on energy assessment; as a consequence, the project goes beyond changes in logistics only.

– It will be possible to evaluate resource consumption for various structures of distribution systems, means of transport and their participants, says professor Szczepański. – Moreover, by including the behaviour and needs of the process participants we want to devise solutions raising awareness in terms of energy consumption, environmental impact and sustainable transport.

Platform for all

The international team’s objective will be the aforementioned platform. It will include all stages of distribution – starting with consolidation centres where smaller shipments are put together and prepared for joint transport and ending with the delivery of the ‘parcel’ to the customers.

– The main assumption is the integration of all participants of transport processes: logistics operators, carriers, suppliers, customers and urban authorities, says professor Szczepański. – The platform will consider the relationships between individual participants, as well as the digital and logistics infrastructure, which will adopt a multi-layer structure depending on the character of processes and their participants.

For urban authorities, this will be a tool for the creation of energy policy in the implementation of logistics processes (e.g. location of car parks and vehicle loaders). It will allow the suppliers and carriers to find supply routes that are optimal in terms of energy consumption and costs. It will provide a logistics operator with information on the best possible structure of a supply system or the most recommended means of transport. End customers will, in turn, obtain the information about environmental costs generated by their order and it will encourage them to use the services of those operators who use solutions with the lowest possible negative impact on the environment.

Three years of work

The team plans to conduct a series of research. Surveys will allow them to collect data on the preferences, needs and behaviours of the participants of the distribution process. However, the main focus will be placed on the research conducted based on the mathematical and simulation models.

– Various urban logistics systems and their associations with energetic infrastructure will be mapped, indicates professor Szczepański. – This approach will allow us to evaluate the sensitivity of the system to the changes in the size of transport tasks, changes in configurations, resulting disorders and changes in the behaviour of the process participants. Scalability is also a crucial aspect. Since project implementers represent different geographic and cultural areas, the proposed solutions will be analysed in terms of those aspects, too.

The project starts in May 2023 and will last 36 months. The first test results should be expected after about 12 months.  

– The main outcome of our work will be the guidelines for shaping a sustainable urban logistics policy and a toolkit for supporting real-time decision-making, says professor Szczepański.


The project ‘E-Laas: Energy-optimised urban logistics as a service’ has been awarded funding in the EN-UAC China Call competition organised by the JPI Urban network jointly with the NSFC agency. The consortium includes the Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden) – the project coordinator from Europe, the Shanghai University (China) – the project coordinator from China, the Tsinghua University (China) and the Warsaw University of Technology. Supporting partners are Stockholms stad, Trafikkontoret (Sweden), ParkUnload (Spain), Metropolis GZM (Poland), the Shanghai Urban-Rural Construction and Transportation Department (China), Volvo Group Trucks Technology and Operations (Sweden).