Created on Tuesday, 18 Aug 2020 03:15:30


ICT and Sustainable Freight Logistics

Special Issue Information 

The increased demand for the distribution of goods and services, and solutions to the disbenefits generated, is an emergent field of both action and research. This trend is forecast to continue its growth throughout the 21st century, due to increasing urbanisation, income growth, and fragmentation of supply chains. Urbanisation is rising globally, with Europe the most urbanised continent. At the same time, a fragmentation of logistics at the last mile of delivery can be seen, both globally and locally, as smaller vehicles deliver smaller consignments of lower value, higher density goods. The causes are extremely complex and not yet fully understood, but probably include rising home deliveries, a boom in on-line shopping, independent retailers in urban cores, city regulations around time, vehicle size or type, reduction of shop storage, adoption of just in time principles, and replacement of working capital with transport response. This fragmentation generates challenges to all three pillars of sustainability: economic, social, and environmental—also known as ‘people, planet and profit’ or the ‘triple bottom line’.

At a policy and practical level, multiple forms of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) have been promoted, trialled, piloted, and deployed, to optimise freight logistics. In addition to not always addressing all three pillars, these often manifest subsidiary effects, perhaps with undisclosed benefits and disbenefits. The opportunity to optimise load utilisation through systems such as horizontal co-operation, vertically integrated top-down hierarchies, crowd sourcing, and dynamic freight brokerage has been noted, and a radical remodelling of logistics as a ‘Physical Internet’—mirroring the TCP/IP networks of the internet—has been proposed. The release of additional capacity on networks, through the use of ‘soft infrastructure’ enhancements such as ERTMS on rail, RIS and MIS on rivers and seas, and ITS on road, has offered greater asset utilisation. ICT has also been key in the monitoring, analysis, and modelling of the emission impacts of freight vehicles. As a platform for both the communication and information aspects of ICT, the vehicle itself is now becoming a key platform within the Internet of Things on road, rail, and water.

This call is for both mono- and mixed methods research, from the broadest spectrum, given that freight logistics is an area of human endeavour that is touched upon by a wide range of academic disciplines. Papers may adopt inductive, deductive, or abductive reasoning, and outcomes can vary from theory, methodology, policy development, or case studies that are internally self-consistent. It is, however, incumbent on the author to state clearly the research philosophy and paradigms adopted, so that they can be reviewed consistently within the stated approaches.

All papers should add to the body of knowledge on how past, present, or future ICT and freight logistics can interact to improve or deteriorate the sustainability of freight logistics with regard to one, two, or all three pillars stated above.

Guest Editors:

Dr. Thomas H Zunder

Newcastle Centre for Rail Research, Newcastle University, Stephenson Building, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK
Interests: Tom is both a knowledgeable academic and a skilled commercial manager. For 16 years he managed purchasing, production control, distribution, and the overall supply chain in the manufacturing industry and, since 2002, has pursued an academic career. Tom is currently a Principal Research Associate, managing the Freight and Logistics research of the Future Mobility Group (formerly NewRail) at Newcastle University. He tends to hold a pragmatist position on research philosophy; approaches considered most interesting include Delphi surveys, CBA, gap analyses, environmental impact assessment, market research, mixed methods research, action research, and systems thinking. The areas of knowledge and practical expertise upon which he currently focuses, often in conjunction and holistically, are rail freight, city logistics, ICT/ITS & freight logistics, and sustainable procurement.

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2020.

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