Air quality alerts, the haze of emissions, double-parking: delivery traffic is choking our inner cities. In order to realize the dream of zero-emissions package deliveries in the future, Stuttgart City Council (LHS) collaborated with the Stuttgart Region Economic Development Corporation and Fraunhofer IAO to launch the “logSPAZE – Alternative Delivery Concepts for Stuttgart City Center” pilot project. Working together with the courier, express and package delivery sector, the project develops, tests and evaluates innovative solutions for sustainable, urban-friendly logistics. Steffen Raiber, project manager at Fraunhofer IAO, Ralph Schäfer from UPS and Dr. Michael Münter from LHS explain the various aspects of the project.
What goal is the logSPAZE pilot project pursuing?
Science: Together with the City Council and logistics service providers such as UPS, we’re testing how to switch from trucks to an environmentally friendly solution for what’s referred to as the last mile. Our research has shown that across sectors, up to 50 percent of goods could be delivered with zero emissions in the Stuttgart city center. Our goal is to cover 75 percent of the partner companies’ packages via alternative delivery options in the course of the pilot project.
What is the starting situation for city-center delivery traffic and what specific services are to be established?
LHS: We’ve been discussing the topic of e-mobility in urban logistics for many years now; in particular, the fact that our city center resembles a terminal for goods traffic. Some 30,000 packages are delivered every month to Königstraße (the main shopping street) alone, and for the entire city center area this figure exceeds 300,000 packages. The consequences – such as high air pollution – have been all too apparent. So it was high time to give serious consideration to more efficient and more environmentally sustainable delivery concepts. By means of CO2-free package delivery, we want to increase the attractiveness of our city as a place to live, work and visit, which is an important step on the road to future-proof inner-city logistics.
UPS: With the carrier bicycles we use for city-center deliveries, we’re already successfully investing in the mobility of tomorrow. Specifically, in Stuttgart city center, there are two micro-depots in the form of truck containers. The packages are brought to these depots, where they are collected and transported by hand trucks and carrier bicycles to their destinations. Our goal is to reduce the five UPS delivery vehicles we use in the city center to just one for delivering larger goods.
What are the main challenges involved in switching to alternative delivery concepts?
LHS: Among other measures, we’ve provided spaces for mobile depots – no mean feat in Stuttgart city center. The various municipal departments are working closely together and creating transparency between city government and businesses.
UPS: For the micro-depots, the choice of location was decisive. Although in terms of esthetics, filling public space with containers is certainly not the ideal solution. One option under consideration is to integrate such distribution stations into parking garages in the future.
What concrete expectations do you have for the Stuttgart model trial?
Science: If we look beyond the local Stuttgart situation at the bigger picture, we see that package delivery is one of many examples of how we can future-proof city-center logistics. In general, carrier bicycles could play a role wherever heavy delivery vehicles are still in use, in order to transport a few kilograms a couple of kilometers.
LHS: We want to see improvements to the air quality and therefore the quality of life in our city. At the same time, we must find a way to deliver goods reliably to commercial and private recipients. The model trial is meant to demonstrate that these objectives are not contradictory and that the concepts tested represent a viable alternative.