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Physical Internet and the opportunities for more sustainable logistics in e-commerce

A € 500,000 grant for research led by Kees Jan Roodbergen
04 April 2019
Kees Jan Roodbergen
Kees Jan Roodbergen

The Physical Internet (PI) is a future vision on completely open and connected logistics networks, revolving around physical, digital, operational and financial connectivity. Exchange between logistical parties, the bundling of deliveries and the sharing of storage and transport capacity create opportunities for a more efficient and sustainable logistics in e-commerce.

In the coming years, Professor of Quantitative Logistics Kees Jan Roodbergen and his colleagues Paul Buijs and Iris Vis will be studying the potential role of micro-hubs in PI constellations. Micro-hubs are small-scale logistical operations in fixed locations with a small geographical catchment area, such as city centres, residential districts or streets. Together with his partners Districon, ViaTim, Cycloon/, Wehkamp, DHL, Centric, IMCC, Dropper and ZUPR, Roodbergen received a grant of € 500,000 from TKI Dinalog for this study. The research will focus on three components: parcel delivery by local residents, combined logistics for physical shops and online stores, and the role of bicycle couriers.

Parcel delivery by local residents

The smallest type of micro-hub is the street hub, a package-sorting hub that can be located in a private house. ViaTim is a start-up company that is setting up street hubs, where DHL delivers packages from online stores such as The street hub forms a new link in the current logistics chain but also reduces the stops and mileage for delivery vans.

Combined logistics for shops and online stores

Physical shops and online stores often still use separate logistics. Integration creates opportunities, for example to deliver online orders through physical shops or to supply shops faster. This integration will turn physical shops into micro-hubs, as intended in the Physical Internet vision. Districon, Centric, IMCC and ZUPR aim to close to the gap between the logistics for online and offline product sales.

Bicycle couriers

More and more bicycle courier businesses are emerging in cities. They work in city hubs, where they handle the last stage of delivery in an environmentally-friendly way. Together with Cycloon/ and Dropper, this study will map the opportunities for bicycle couriers in PI-based networks.

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Last modified:29 February 2024 10.02 a.m.
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