The new Synchro-Net approach to multimodal international logistic chains

Valencia port hosted on September 27th the final conference of Synchro-NET, a logistics European project co-funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Program involving as partners DHL Supply Chain Spain (project coordinator), Bureau Veritas, Circle, Cork Institute of Technology, Cosco Shipping Line, CRAIN, Cross-border Research Association, EMC2, Fraunhofer IVI, HydrOcean, Kongsberg Maritime AS, Kuehne+Nagel, LE Europe, MJC2, Politecnico di Torino, Rail Safety and Standards Board Limited (RSSB), SAM Electronics, Software AG and SYCO.

Main partners have presented in Valencia the results of three and a half years’ work to a large audience composed of experts from public authorities, research and industry who came and discuss coming trends in the field of synchromodality.

Synchro-NET project has developed a platform, called eco-NET, designed to catalyse the uptake of novel logistics concepts, such as slow steaming and synchro-modality, in a cloud-based eco-system. Through the eco-NET users can find the best possible itinerary of carriers between sender and consignee, and compare several different multimodal solutions through key performance indicators (KPIs) and key risk indicators (KRIs).

Through the eco-NET it is possible for the user to find the best possible itinerary of carriers between the sender and the consignee and compare several alternative multimodal solutions including ship, train and road transportation through Key Per-formance Indicators (KPIs) and Key Risk Indicators (KRIs).

The project has demonstrated how to ensure cost-effective robust solutions that de-stress the supply chain and reduce emissions and costs for logistics operations while simultaneously increasing reliability and service levels for logistics users. In particular, Synchro-NET aims at up to 30% of potential reduction in CO2 emissions for shipping and land-based transport, a 25-30% increase in modal shift to greener modes, a 20-30% decrease of costs connected to the rescheduling of transport routes/modes, a 12-20% reduction in hinterland transport costs, and a 12-15% reduction of kms for trucks through fewer wasted repositioning movements.

As regards technological implementation, the eco-NET platform is structured as a web application with a map-based, user-friendly interface and is divided into different modules supporting the strategic planning phase as well as the operational booking and scheduling phase. A central role is played by the interaction between the following three modules: the Supply Chain Simulator, developed by Politecnico di Torino, the Risk Analysis Module, developed by Fraunhofer IVI, and the Real-time Synchro-modal Module, developed by MJC².

The aim of the Simulator is to provide the user with a set of potential transport solutions, given the data and the constraints about departure and arrival times and locations, preferred or banned routes, transport modes to be used, etc. For each solution, the Simulator provides a set of KPIs – such as length, duration, and emissions – and a set of KRIs – such as time and cost deviation, flexibility, and safety, provided by the Risk Analysis Module.

The Real-time Synchro-modal Module allows end users to book and monitor their shipments. The module is directly connected with the Simulator in order to retrieve the information about the proposed routes, their respective KPIs and KRIs, and the selected parameters used for the calculation.

For the decision-making process the eco-NET incorporates methods and techniques such as real-time synchro-modal logistics optimisation, slow steaming ship simulation and control, synchro-modal risk analysis, statistical modelling, dynamic stakeholder impact assessment, and synchro-operability communications and governance.

The core of the Synchro-NET architecture relies on a service-oriented design and workflow aspects that allow logistics stakeholders in the network to communicate with the platform as needed in a highly granular fashion.

As the architecture considers aspects of big data technology and cloud concepts, it is versatile and capable to uptake future developments within the logistics sector. The platform has been designed to be operated in the cloud, thus it can be deployed in different scenarios according to the user’s preferences.