Special Issue "Sustainability in Synchromodal Logistics and Transportation"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2020.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Daniele Manerba
Guest Editor
Department of Information Engineering (DII), University of Brescia, via Branze 38, 25123 Brescia, Italy
Interests: synchromodal logistics; network optimization; vehicle routing problems; optimization under uncertainty; facility location; procurement logistics and supplier selection
Prof. Dr. An Caris
Guest Editor
Hasselt University, Research Group Logistics, Agoralaan Gebouw D - B-3590 Diepenbeek, Belgium
Interests: synchromodal transport; healthcare logistics; data driven logistics; warehouse optimization

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Synchromodal logistics and transportation has recently emerged as a paradigm able to improve flexibility in long-haul supply chains, cooperation among stakeholders, and efficient utilization of resources. In fact, as supply-chain management is becoming strongly demand driven, logistics service providers (LSPs) are forced to use real-time information efficiently and integrate new technologies into their business.

Synchromodality is an evolution of other well-known transportation paradigms such as intermodality, multimodality, and co-modality, mainly developed and established in the Benelux region during the last decade. Synchromodality can be seen as the provision of efficient, reliable, flexible, and sustainable services through the coordination and cooperation of stakeholders and the synchronization of operations within one or more supply-chains driven by information and communication technologies (ICT) and intelligent transportation system (ITS) technologies.

Since the environmental, social, and economic sustainability is a strong driver for the development and implementation of synchromodal solutions, all the business strategies, the planification, and the optimization of classical logistics operations should be all redefined and studied under this perspective.  Hence, this Special Issue mainly focuses on presenting new developments and scientific works from different fields (e.g., operations research, operation management, transportation engineering, ICT) that can provide innovative contributions in the sustainable adoption of logistics solutions taking into account specific aspects regarding synchromodality (e.g., flow synchronization, dynamic and real-time optimization, LSP integration and cooperation, a-modal booking, etc.).

We kindly invite you to submit a manuscript for this Special Issue. Covered topics include (but are not limited to) business and operational models, ports, and inter-ports management, planning and design problems, real-time optimization, ICT solutions and decision support systems in synchromodal logistics and transportation environments.

Research papers, short communications, and reviews are all taken into consideration. Moreover, scientific articles reporting on the results of research projects or real case implementations concerning synchromodality are also welcome.

Dr. Daniele Manerba
Prof. Dr. An Caris
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • synchromodal logistics and transportation
  • intermodal and multimodal logistics
  • ports and inter-ports management
  • planning and design problems
  • real-time optimization
  • ICT solutions and decision support systems
  • slow steaming and smart steaming

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission, see below for planned papers.

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Smart Steaming: A New Shipping Paradigm for Synchromodal Logistics

Authors: Giusti, Riccardo; Manerba, Daniele and Tadei, Roberto

Abstract: Slow steaming, i.e. the possibility to ship vessels at a significantly lower speed than their normal one, has been widely studied and implemented to improve the sustainability of long-haul supply-chains. However, to create an efficient symbiosis with the paradigm of synchromodality, an evolution of slow steaming called smart steaming has been recently defined in the context of the SYNCHRO-NET research project. Smart steaming is about the definition of a medium speed execution of shipping movements and the real-time adjustment (acceleration and deceleration) of travelling speeds to pursue an overall efficiency and sustainability of the entire logistic system. E.g., congestions in handling facilities (intermodal hubs, ports, rail stations) are often caused by the common wish to arrive as soon as possible. Hence, smart steaming would help to avoid bottlenecks, allowing a better synchronization and decreasing the overall waiting times at the handling facilities. The aim of this work is to discuss the strict relations between smart steaming and synchromodality, and to show the potential impact of moving from slow steaming to smart steaming in terms of sustainability and efficiency. Moreover, we will propose an analysis considering the pros, cons, opportunities, and risks of managing operations with this new policy.

Resilience in Intermodal Transport: Review and Future Research Directions

Authors: Delbart, Thibault; Molenbruch, Yves; Braekers, Kris and Caris, An

Abstract: Resilience is defined as the capability to resist and recover from disruptions. Road transport is heavily used because of its high flexibility, despite a potentially higher operating cost. A drawback of other transport modes is their lower adaptability to sudden disruptions and uncertainties. Mitigating this drawback is a key issue to facilitate a modal shift towards intermodal transport. This literature review investigates disruptions in intermodal transport networks. The main focus is on the types of uncertainty and proposed solutions. In a synchromodal transport setting, decisions related to modal choice and route are not predefined long in advance but are taken as late as possible based on real-time infrastructural and operational developments. Thus, the synchromodal concept has a potential to offer a better performance than intermodal transport on flexibility and reliability. Future research directions are deducted for the modelling of synchromodal freight transport.

On-Demand Parcel Delivery in Sharing Economy: New Challenges for Urban Logistics

Authors: Wei, Qu; Perboli, Guido and Rosano, Mariangela

Abstract: This paper investigates a dynamic and stochastic vehicle routing problem with time windows that consider the adoption of multiple delivery options and crowd drivers, reflecting the synchromodality in the urban context. We propose a multi-stage stochastic model, and we solve the problem by using a simulation-optimization strategy. It is based on a Monte Carlo simulation and a large neighborhood search (LNS) heuristic for the optimization. To measure the potential impact of integrating cargo bikes, crowd drivers in parcel delivery, we conduct a case study in the medium-sized City of Turin (Italy) is conducted to measure the potential impact of integrating cargo bikes, crowd drivers in parcel delivery. Experimental results show that combining crowd drivers and green carriers into traditional van delivery is beneficial in terms of economic and environmental cost-saving, while the delivery efficiency is decreased. Besides, the green carriers and crowd drivers are promising delivery options to deal with online customer requests in the context of stochastic and dynamic parcel delivery.

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