Prof. Rob Zuidwijk
Professor of Global Supply Chains and Ports
Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Container transport: innovative practices meet academic discourse
The international transport of maritime containers employs multiple transport means, such as deep-sea vessels and trucks, or alternatively river barges and train sets. The planning and execution of combined transport operations is challenging, since resources are to be orchestrated efficiently while delivery of service must be reliable.
To address these challenges, the port of Rotterdam and its hinterland have become a living laboratory, where practitioners are performing pilot studies and academics develop new methods to put innovative logistics concepts to the test.
In the presentation, I will discuss how Synchromodal transport solutions offer mobility of freight instead of specific transport capacity. Containers that need to be transported are matched with transport options in a dynamic way. Practitioners have demonstrated the feasibility of the concept, while academics have elaborated on various decision models in support of e.g. network design, capacity planning, and routing. The living lab now progressively involves new modes of transport, such as semi-automated trucks that dynamically form platoons where consolidation is viable.
Advanced planning concepts, where multiple modes of transport are involved, tend to be more data intensive. However, the transportation industry is progressively recognizing the value of data as a strategic asset, not to be shared without compensation. Therefore, a proper understanding of what data is needed to enhance quality of planning is key. In some cases, a marginal improvement of data quality may already help create better prognostics and planning. In this vein, academics have been able to feed their methods and insights back to practitioners. As such, container transport connects innovative practices and academic discourse.