"Ships often sail back and forth with half-empty or empty containers", says Jurrit Bergsma of TNO. "For example, because there is a lack of transport planning alignment or for practical reasons. In addition, there are many lessons to be learned from multimodal coordination, where transport is transferred to the train or truck. In our research, we identify out the entire logistics chain, from the freighter in China to the courier van that delivers your order to your door at home."
Bergsma sees various solutions to optimise maritime transport: "Now a ship often sails to the destination port as quickly as possible, then goes very slowly for half a day it before entering the port. The captain doesn't always know when the ship is allowed into the port. If the process between the port and the ship is better aligned using smart software, then a lot of energy reduction can be achieved without major modifications to the ship."
Another solution is a global bunker infrastructure for different fuels. "If you want to achieve the energy transition across the entire logistics chain, then you can't just start offering hydrogen for ships, cars and trucks in just one port. To do this, you have to look at the big picture and coordinate it with the ports of Rotterdam, Antwerp, Hamburg, and so on."
Why is this a role that suits TNO down to the ground? Bergsma: "We are very capable of identifying all forms of logistics. Through intensive collaboration with industry and government, we can describe exactly what is going on and what infrastructural changes are needed. Such as increasing the load factor of a vessel. Or sharing and analysing data, supplemented by climatological data, for example."
Would you like to know more about TNO's research into smart logistics or do you see opportunities to contribute to it?