A four-year project which is based on more than 15 years of project expertise: The EU-Projekt BESTFACT has been successfully closed and has led to a pool of excellent ideas for City Logistics, Green Logistics, Co-Modality and eFreight. Marcel Huschebeck, BESTFACT project coordinator, reports on the project findings and great results, but regrets to see that a whole series of projects has come to an end.
Compass: Marcel, what do think are the main findings from BESTFACT and the predecessor projects?
Marcel Huschebeck: The issues were discussed in depth in several projects, always taking different aspects into consideration. BEST FACT also built upon the results of its predecessor projects BESTUFS, PROMIT and BEST LOG. One of the most important results refers to the methodology, i.e. how and according to what criteria specific applications can be used as best practice examples, which are also transferable to other cities. And of course the fact that the project succeeded in focusing attention on specific issues such as urban supply, environmental aspects and the possibility of relying on co-modality and electronic information exchange. In the meantime, users have become more willing to make use of these services, thus strengthening the network concept.
Compass: Are there any topics where you see a need for greater awareness?
Marcel Huschebeck: One example is eFreight dealing with software solutions for freight transport and the secure exchange of information via the supply chain as well as information management for collaborative logistics. Here, promising technology is available, but barriers often hamper it. One of them is the availability of data. Data exchange is always based on cooperation. However, there is still a lack of coordination. BESTFACT presented simple best practice examples that showed how this could work.
However, important developments are things that take time. I can still remember that the cities were not particularly involved in the first project BESTUFS. Interestingly, smaller Italian cities, especially those with historic town centres, were the most active members since they had been suffering from delivery problems for quite some time. Today, there is a completely different dynamic of innovation. The cities are now keen to tackle the issue of commercial transport. We have great BESTFACT examples from London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna or smaller cities like Stuttgart. Regarding e-mobility, the smaller cities were once again highly committed to promoting this cutting-edge technology.
Compass: So, what’s next? The project has been successfully completed. Will there be a follow-up project?
Marcel Huschebeck: Unfortunately not, which is something that I very much regret. This is because there is still so much potential and multiple challenges that could be dealt with in a follow-up project, which in turn could benefit from the previous findings. Actually, these are permanent topics that are becoming all the more urgent. It would be ideal to integrate all modes of transport – for example in terms of co-modality – and to share all data. This would also be in the interest of the EU. Data sharing is a genuine step forward, especially for smaller players. However, they are not yet aware of the many advantages of such a move in cooperation with the other stakeholders.
Compass: How can the results of BESTFACT be used beyond the project?
Marcel Huschebeck: Besides the transferability of many best practice examples to other cities of different sizes, the results are currently being used on a different level. For instance, the International Road Transport Union (IRU), which upholds the interests of transport providers around the world, is interested in the BESTFACT material and in a cooperation in this field. We engage in ongoing dialogue with the IRU and many other organisations such as POLIS or ERTICO as well as with experts in North America.
The challenges that they have to cope with may vary slightly; however, in the end they are quite similar throughout the world. We see this time and again through our work, because we at PTV Group deal with urban logistics issues not only in research, but also in many other areas. We have noticed a lack of careful and precise planning, in particular in cities. Exact house number geocoding is firmly integrated in our products. It is a prerequisite for last mile delivery. In addition, the module “Urban Logistics” that is part of our PTV Visum software for transportation planning and traffic engineering allows users to model city logistics and integrate it into strategic transportation planning. These are just two of the many examples where we contribute our expertise in transport, traffic and logistics in order to tackle the challenges in urban logistics. Anyway, I’m curious to see if the issue is resumed and driven forward in the context of a research project.
In addition to the BESTFACT project website providing plenty of information related to the project findings, activities and know-how, the new handbook is another important result of the project. It provides an overview of 157 concepts, strategies and activities currently implemented in the European transport logistics sector, including an analysis of 60 best practice examples. All case studies are also made available online. Their fact sheets can be downloaded from the BESTFACT website. The new handbook is available for download on http://www.bestfact.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/BESTFACT_D24_BPH_final.pdf.
About the project
BESTFACT (Duration: January 2012 – December 2015) received funding from the EU’s 7th framework programme. The project created four integrated areas, which are connected to the most important and most pressing challenges of transport logistics in the EU: City Logistics, Green Logistics, Co-Modality and eFreight.
The BESTFACT consortium consists of 18 partners from European research institutions, universities, international associations and industry partners. The project was coordinated by PTV. As part of the four-year project, the BESTFACT partners created a knowledge database (link to BESTFACT website bestfact.net) and hosted conferences and workshops in various European cities in order to select best practice examples which are in line with the EU’s transport logistics objectives.