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Logistic sector inspired by efficiency of internet: RUG organises 5th International Physical Internet Conference

04 October 2017
Source: NWO

Goods that choose their ‘own’ route and mode of transport in open and interconnected logistic networks, instead of fixed routes that use closed networks . This “Physical Internet” is an idea of the future for the logistic sector. From 18–21 June 2018, the University of Groningen (RUG) will be organising a large international conference on this subject together with the Dutch logistic sector. ‘We expect to be greeting over 200 guests in Groningen from science, industry and governments’, says professor Iris Vis , associated with the Centre for Operational Excellence at the RUG. ‘We will be exchanging experiences and research results, to take the next steps towards realisation of Physical Internet.’

After four successful earlier editions in Quebec, Paris, Atlanta and Graz, in June 2018 the city of Groningen will be the stage for the 5th edition of the International Physical Internet Conference . The conference programme will be composed by a committee of representatives from different Dutch universities, TKI Dinalog and businesses. New in this edition of the conference are a competition for students and a PhD Colloquium.

Physical Internet

At this time, the global logistic system consists of many private networks, each with their own storage facilities, their own modes of transport and their own contracts with transporters. Because these private networks are relatively poorly connected to each other, trucks often drive (partially) loaded one way and empty on the way back. The occupancy rate of storage space is also not always that high. ‘Physical Internet’ could be a solution to taking the step towards a cleaner and more efficient logistic system. Analogous to its digital brother, Physical Internet aims for seamlessly connected logistic networks, in which modes of transport and storage facilities can be shared freely and easily. This requires a shift in the current logistic mindset – in scientific research as well as in practice.

> Watch a short introduction on the concept of Physical Internet

Research in Groningen: pioneering in science and practice

In addition to conceptual research, within the research project " Towards Virtual Ports in a Physical Internet " decision-support models are developed for planning logistic operations in ports and their hinterland. This is the first Dutch research project into Physical Internet and globally speaking, it is the first project in which the role of ports within Physical Internet are central. Project partners are Groningen Seaports and the Port of Rotterdam. Researchers include Iris Vis, Kees Jan Roodbergen, Paul Buijs, Leandro Coelho, Gerlach van der Heide and Jon Hummel of the University of Groningen and Lori Tavasszy and Patrick Fahim of the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft).

In other disciplines, the
Centre for Operational Excellence at the RUG also works on discovering and designing building blocks for Physical Internet and transfer of knowledge within the sector. In October 2015, Iris Vis was co-designer and signer on behalf of TKI Dinalog of a memorandum of understanding about joint research by TKI Dinalog, the Flemish Institute for Logistics and the American top university Georgia Tech. Vis was also one of the organisers, on behalf of TKI Dinalog and the RUG, of the international seminar on Physical Internet and the role of ports therein, which was held in Atlanta in April 2017. And on 5 July last, Iris Vis received a Physical Internet Pioneer Award during the 4th International Physical Internet Conference in Graz, for her commitment and activities towards the creation of Physical Internet.

Physical Internet in RUG education

The curriculum for students also pays attention to the concept of Physical Internet. This month, for instance, sees the start of a so-called Learning Community about the subject, in which the connection to the business community plays an important part. Together with students, researchers Paul Buijs and Wout van Wezel work further on the development of knowledge about Physical Internet and go looking for possible practical implementations in the region.

Note to the press

For further information: professor Iris Vis

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Last modified:07 January 2021 3.48 p.m.
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