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Pr. Dr. René Schumann

The Smart Urban MultiHub Concept project is financed by the Flaghsip program of Innosuisse and by partner companies. It is led by the SI Lab team (Smart Infrastructure) of the Institute of Informatics of the HES-SO Valais-WallisRené Schumann, professor in charge of the project and head of the research laboratory, was awarded one of the 15 Innossuise Flagship grants for his project on urban multihubs, which aims to reduce delivery traffic in cities and thus preserve the environment and the quality of life of residents by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution.

Congested urban centers

Urban areas today face major challenges: the population is growing, cities are becoming denser, and the consumption of goods continues to increase. By 2040, online orders are expected to increase by 75% over today, leading to a 37% expansion of the logistics fleet. What's more, as cities continue to densify, infrastructure cannot grow and private motorized transportation increases, leading to a decline in the availability of transportation infrastructure for logistics. With urban transport systems already reaching their limits, urban logistics needs to be completely rethought.

Partners in the field

The future of urban logistics is being examined by a group of companies, the public sector, and researchers. Under the direction of the ZHAW School of Engineering, the companies Ikea, H&M, Zalando, Cargo Sous Terrain, Quickpac, MSDirect, Swisslog, the Office of Civil Engineering of the City of Zurich, the Office of Mobility of the Canton of Zurich, the University of St. Gallen, and the HES-SO Valais-Wallis are working on this issue. The Urban MultiHub project brings all these entities together and is financed by the Flaghsip program of Innosuisse as well as by the partner companies. The strength of the project lies in the interaction between science and practice, as the concepts can be developed and tested directly in pilot applications before the various parties are brought together in a comprehensive logistics concept for urban areas.

Common spaces and ambitious goals

The aim of the project is to find out whether a hub system with different hub forms and cooperation between retail and logistics can sustainably relieve urban areas of logistics traffic without sacrificing the convenience of the inhabitants of a city. The entire system must be digitally linked from the sender to the recipient.

The core of the future urban logistics concept is an "Urban Multihub". It is designed to accommodate different goods and is accessible without discrimination to all interested companies. No space must be rented on a fixed basis; instead, users only pay for the space they occupy. Goods are grouped together in the Urban Multihub for joint delivery in the same area. The grouped delivery is based on a so-called white-label or multi-label approach, where deliveries to people are made primarily to parcel lockers, local stores, or post office satellites and no longer to private addresses. This allows suppliers to deliver in groups and increase the first delivery rate to 100%. Consumers can then pick up their orders on foot or by bike at a time that suits their daily schedule.

The aim of the project is not only to design the various elements, but also to test them in pilot applications and to be able to analyze their effects on the city and on sustainability. In addition, incentives and regulatory measures should be decided upon to positively support the implementation of the future city logistics system.