Integration of Urban Freight Innovations: Sustainable Inner-Urban Intermodal Transportation in the Retail/Postal Industry
2. Research Question and Methodology
- RQ.1: In recent years, what are the emerging transport modes for distribution innovations in urban freight transport?
- RQ.2: What is the status of the applications and research of these innovations in urban freight transport?
- RQ.3: What are the restrictions and suitability of these innovations in urban freight transport?
3. Literature Review of Distribution Innovations
4. Implementation Status Analysis of Distribution Innovations
4.1. Definition of Implementation Status
- The conceptual model phase refers to scholars proposing and designing the conceptual model/framework to respond to social economic questions. This is the initial stage for studying the innovative technology. Examples include the use of the delivery drone in last-mile delivery [108,109] and the application of autonomous vehicles in urban freight transport [101,102,103,104].
- The analysis and planning phase is based on the specific parameters of the technology, thereby analyzing the future risks, costs, and the possible impacts of the technology application while planning both the operational scheme and the ex ante evaluation. An example is the integrated system of passenger and freight transport [80,82].
- The promotion and evaluation phase refers to scholarly discussions regarding alternative strategies that aim to promote the use of innovative technologies in urban freight transport and the evaluation of costs, as well as impacts to improve the policy or strategy. Commonly, this approach is based on private enterprises, and local authorities have already used these technologies. An example is the research regarding electric vehicles [28,33,34,38] and cargo bikes [85,90].
- The theoretical research phase is the initial phase for the companies, which proposes the technology’s theoretical model and conceptual model. The purpose is to identify the application range and features of technologies. For example, in 2018, Germany’s Volkswagen proposed a project that integrates autonomous vehicles into the mobile depots.
- The testing and development phase is based on the result of the theoretical research phase and aims to develop the technology physical model. Concurrently, the performance is tested, and the possible risks are evaluated. An example is the use of drones to deliver goods within urban areas (e.g., ).
- The operation and improvement phase describes how the companies have used the established technologies to provide the logistics service while improving these technologies and thereby reducing the costs and risks. An example is the utilization of cargo bikes in last-mile delivery (e.g., ).
4.2. Analysis of Implementation Status
5. Application Restriction and Scope of Distribution Innovations
5.1. Applied Restriction of Distribution Innovations
- Status: This is based on the previous GE-matrix analysis. According to the analysis of the implementation status of the distribution innovations, some of them are in the low-low phase. This status poses challenges in finding the technical data of these transport modes because they are in the development phase for the related companies, for instance modular E-vehicles.
- Process of application: As mentioned previously, the processes of city logistics consist of transshipment transportation and last-mile delivery. The capacity and size of distribution innovations have restricted their application process in urban freight transport. For instance, the delivery drone is generally only utilized in the last-mile delivery.
- Infrastructure requirements: The infrastructure requirements of various innovations are different. For example, the use of electric vehicles should consider the location of the charge station and the application of delivery drones should not only consider this critical point, but also consider the control platform and loading dock.
- External elements: In addition to the technical limitation itself, external elements have influenced the application of these distribution innovations on urban freight transport. Weather is a critical impact factor for the application of distribution innovations. Storms, wind, and snow are unfavorable to the use of these innovations (delivery drone, delivery robot, etc.). In addition, the external elements are associated with urban freight policies, related laws, urban topography, and so on.
- Travel range: This is a crucial indicator for assessing the suitability of transport modes. Concurrently, this indicator contributes to the selection of transport modes for the companies, particularly to address distinct delivery demands and complex urban topography.
- Load capacity: This is a pivotal criterion to measure a suitable industry for transport modes. The distribution innovations with a small capacity generally have been used in parcel delivery, such as the delivery drone/robot. However, the load capacity of some distribution innovations appears to be flexible and uncertain. For instance, public transit logistics are based on the spare capacity of the tram/bus/subway [128,129]. The load capacity of taxi logistics depends on the taxi types, which in general is approximately 0.5–2 m [130,131].
- Suitable industry: As the research perspectives of this paper are related to the retail and postal industries, we have analyzed the suitable industries of these emerging transport modes from these two aspects. Generally, the load capacity and travel range are critical factors for measuring their suitable industries. It is noted that the transshipment transportation process of the parcel industry also requires vehicles with a large load capacity. Consequently, flexibility and sustainability are also the key points for analyzing suitable industries.
5.2. Sustainable Inner-Urban Intermodal Transportation
Conflicts of Interest
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|Main keywords||Urban Freight Transport, City Logistics, Transshipment transportation, Last-mile delivery|
|Inclusion criteria||Transportation, Economic, Management|
|Document types||Journal Articles and Conference Papers|
|Topic||Description||Transshipment Transportation||Last-Mile Delivery|
|Electric vehicles||Applied the E-vehicles to transport the goods in urban areas||[26,27,28,29,30]||[26,27,28,29,30,31,32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43,44,45,46,47,48,49,50,51,52,53,54,55,56,57,58]|
|Modular E-vehicles||The special type of vehicles is used to deliver the goods to consumers by carrying one or multiple cabin modules||[59,60,61]|
|Public transit system||Integrated the passenger and freight activities (i.e., tram, subway, bus)||[62,63,64,65,66,67,68,69,70,71,72,73,74,75]|||
|Urban waterway logistics||Utilized a ship to transfer goods to the transit points by the inland waterway of the city||[77,78,79]||[10,79]|
|Taxi logistics||Applied the taxi to transport goods; the purpose is reduce traffic congestion||[80,81,82,83,84]|
|Cargo bike||Use of a cargo-bike for freight distribution in city centers||[85,86,87,88,89,90,91,92,93,94,95,96,97,98]|
|Robotic vehicles||Use of autonomous (robotic) vehicles for freight distribution in city areas||[99,100,101,102,103,104,105,106,107]|
|Delivery drones||Use of drones for freight delivery in city areas||[108,109,110,111]|
|Parcel lockers||The implementation of parcel lockers aims to reduce the traffic congestion in residential areas and enhance the efficiency of delivery||[112,113,114]|
|Mobile depot||A mobile depot is a trailer fitted with a loading dock, warehousing facilities, and an office||[115,116,117]|
|Research objectives||Electric vehicles, modular E-vehicles, cargo bikes, delivery drones, public transit system, robotic vehicles, taxi logistics, urban waterway logistics, parcel lockers, mobile depots, delivery robot|
|Research method||GE multifactorial analysis|
|Research perspectives||Academic research, company application|
|Low Phase||Medium Phase||High Phase|
|Academia research phase||Conceptual Model phase||Analysis and planning phase||Promotion and evaluation phase|
|Companies research phase||Theoretical research phase||Testing and development phase||Operation and improvement phase|
|Status||Process of Application||Infrastructure Requirements||External Elements||Travel Range||Load Capacity||Suitable Industry|
|Electric vehicles||High-high phase||Transshipment transportation/last-mile delivery||Charge station||Urban topography||100–500 km [39,45]||3–20 m [39,45]||Retail/Post|
|Modular E-vehicles||Low-low phase||Transshipment transportation/last-mile delivery||Charge station||Urban topography||N.A.||N.A.||Retail/post|
|Public transit logistics||Medium-medium phase||Transshipment transportation||Integrated station of transit and freight||Off-peak periods of passenger||Based on the range of the public transport network||Standardized box is approximately 1.5–2 m , and the number of boxes is based on the spare capacity of public transit modes (approximately 15 boxes) [128,129]||Retail/post|
|Urban waterway logistics||Medium-medium phase||Transshipment transportation||Multiple canal loading docks or ship equipped with a hydraulic crane that delivers the goods to the quays||City’s extensive canal network, weather||Based on urban canal network||30–85 m ||Retail/post|
|Taxi logistics||Low-medium phase||Last-mile delivery||No special requirements||Urban transport policy, taxi policy||600–1000 km ||Based on the taxi types, generally is approximately 0.5–2 m [130,131]||Post|
|Cargo bike||High-medium phase||Last-mile delivery||Charge station||Weather, urban topography||13–100 km ||Approximately 1–2 m ||Post|
|Robotic vehicle||Medium-low phase||Transshipment transportation/last-mile delivery||Charge station, controller platform, urban road network||Urban freight policy, law allows||N.A.||N.A.||Retail/post|
|Delivery drone||Medium-low phase||Last-mile delivery||Charge station, controller platform, loading depots/trucks||Weather, human damages, law allows||A range of about 20–30 km [111,132,133]||Approximately 2–4 kg [111,132,133]||Post|
|Delivery robot||Medium-low phase||Last-mile delivery||Charge station, controller platform, loading depots/trucks||Weather, topography, law allows, human damages||Within a 3-km radius ||No more than 50 pounds ||Post|
|Parcel locker||High-high phase||Last-mile delivery||No special requirements||Weather||N.A.||Approximately 1.36–25.84 m ||Post|
|Mobile depot||Medium-low phase||Last-mile delivery||NO special requirements||Urban freight policy, parking limitation||Depends on the type of tractor and urban acreage||Fits 4 large and 7 smaller cages ||Retail/post|
|Electric Vehicles||Modular E-vehicles||Cargo Bikes||Delivery Drones||Public Transit System||Robotic Vehicles||Taxi||Inland Waterway||Parcel Lockers||Mobile Depots||Delivery Robot|
|Public transit system||√||√||/||√|
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He, Z.; Haasis, H.-D. Integration of Urban Freight Innovations: Sustainable Inner-Urban Intermodal Transportation in the Retail/Postal Industry. Sustainability 2019, 11, 1749. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061749
He Z, Haasis H-D. Integration of Urban Freight Innovations: Sustainable Inner-Urban Intermodal Transportation in the Retail/Postal Industry. Sustainability. 2019; 11(6):1749. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061749Chicago/Turabian Style
He, Zhangyuan, and Hans-Dietrich Haasis. 2019. "Integration of Urban Freight Innovations: Sustainable Inner-Urban Intermodal Transportation in the Retail/Postal Industry" Sustainability 11, no. 6: 1749. https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061749