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Logistics clusters solutions for a sustainable and fully integrated transport system


An EU-funded initiative has taken huge steps towards building a hyper-connected network of logistics hubs and clusters. It will help reduce congestion, noise, land use and pollution.

Logistics clusters are crucial for generating growth, employment and competitiveness. If well-established, these geographically concentrated sets of logistics-related businesses and operations, like transport carriers, warehouses and third-party logistics service providers, could evolve into thriving sources of innovation. Set up with the vision of unleashing the full potential of European logistics clusters, the EU-funded CLUSTERS 2.0 project has made significant progress in enhancing the performance and coordination of terminals and hubs that are active in a cluster.

Nearing completion, CLUSTERS 2.0 will enter the spotlight at a final event on 26 March that will cover a range of topics like IT technologies, physical internet, cooperation and sustainability, as noted on the project website. Various CLUSTERS 2.0 solutions and outcomes will also be presented at the 1-day event in Brussels. The main objective of CLUSTERS 2.0 is to provide a toolbox for future logistics, including large-scale IT applications establishing and facilitating coordination within and across logistics clusters. It also focuses on horizontal collaboration, modularisation and standardisation of loading units.


The CLUSTERS 2.0 project took several steps towards developing low-capital, cost-efficient and investment-intensive enhanced goods handling and transhipment solutions. Its hyper-connected open network of logistics clusters and hubs functions “in the frame of Ten-T,” as stated on the project website. CLUSTERS 2.0 laid the groundwork for such a network by developing ways to link freight hubs through the physical internet. The EU’s Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) policy addresses the development of a Europe-wide network of railway lines, roads, inland waterways, maritime shipping routes, ports, airports and railroad terminals. Increasing the volume of freight moved by rail is central to the EU’s sustainable transportation strategy, with 30 % of freight flows exceeding 300 km in distance to shift to rail by 2030 and 50 % by 2050.

The hubs involved with CLUSTERS 2.0 include Zaragoza (PLAZA), Duisburg (Duisport), Lille (Dourges), Bologna-Trieste (Interporto/Port of Trieste), Brussels (BruCargo), London (Heathrow), Piraeus (PCT) and Trelleborg (Port). The project uses Living Labs to test, improve and validate the proposed solutions and develop the required business models. It has already tested and demonstrated these solutions. The Living Labs of CLUSTERS 2.0 include the Proximity Terminal Network (PTN) and Cluster Community System (CluCS). The CluCS is an IT platform that supports the governance of PTN and operations through the efficient management of information.

One of the project’s solutions is a slot booking app. Features include defining a central window to book a time slot for freight delivery or pick up, facilitating requests of single or recurrent timeslots for bookers (freight forwarders), and creating timeslots for different cargo types available from suppliers (ground handlers). The CLUSTERS 2.0 (Open network of hyper connected logistics clusters towards Physical Internet) project ends in April 2020.


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