Digital Catapult launches Logistics Living Lab to cut road emissions by reducing empty trucks

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Digital Catapult has announced an ambitious new project, the Logistics Living Lab, to cut the carbon emissions of empty and near-empty delivery trucks on the road. Road freight transportation and removal services produced 11.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, threatening the UK’s chance of reaching net zero by 2050.

The project, which will leverage emerging technologies including distributed ledger technology (DLT) and the Internet of Things (IoT) to reduce the number of empty trucks releasing pollutants into the atmosphere on roads across the country, brings together five leading digital innovators: Vodafone Digital Asset Broker, Microsoft, Yusen Logistics, Fuuse and Parity Technologies.

The Logistics Living Lab project will run until September 2024 and will see the development of a shared digital infrastructure for more intelligent management of vehicle slot filling, routing and tracking to allow competing logistics providers to safely share information on available truck space across their collective fleets, without a single party needing full control or visibility of the whole system.

The infrastructure, underpinned by DLT, aims to deliver greater coordination across the logistics sector without compromising commercial sensitivity and security of data while enabling greater operational efficiency.

The Logistics Living Lab project is part of Digital Catapult’s Made Smarter Innovation Digital Supply Chain Hub, which aims to make supply chains more efficient, resilient and sustainable by developing and promoting the adoption of advanced digital technologies in supply chains across the UK. It comes as a more practical approach to solving UK manufacturing and logistics challenges is needed, including reducing road congestion, improving customer experience and bringing the UK closer to its net-zero ambitions.

Tim Lawrence, director of the Digital Supply Chain Hub, said, “Manufacturers are facing unprecedented cost and risk pressures across all areas of their businesses, especially in their supply chains, from increasing costs of energy, labor and logistics. There is growing demand from businesses to make supply chains more sustainable, and this logistics project can play a key role in demonstrating the benefits of working together to achieve this.”

Leo Pickford, head of business change at Yusen Logistics, added, “Our customers, who are often operating on wafer-thin margins, need to find ways to reduce costs and cut emissions. Given that 25% of trucks still run empty, while a significant amount of operational planning is done at the last minute, logistics optimization, particularly in shared user transport (SUT), is a key area where operational efficiency can be realized.

“This project allows logistics companies like ours to collaborate and still compete in new and more efficient ways, with new business and governance models allowing logistics companies to work together to mutual advantage, reducing costs while working toward a more sustainable future.”

There will be an opportunity to learn more about this project through an observer gallery, being set up by Digital Catapult, which will allow organizations to build on the work of this exciting pilot with regular showcases of the work to date. This will begin in April 2023 and interested parties can register on the Digital Supply Chain Hub site.

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With over a decade of experience as a business and technology journalist working in B2B publishing, Hazel first joined UKi in 2011. After taking 18 months off to bring up her daughter and try her hand at marketing copywriting, she returned in January 2018 to do what she loves best – magazine editing! She is now the editor of UKi's Passenger Terminal World and Parcel and Postal Technology International magazines.

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