Birgit Hendriks from Goederenhubs: “Carbon optimization requires behavioural change”

How can you collaborate on CO2 reduction? “That’s quite a big question, and one that isn’t easy to answer,” says Birgit Hendriks from Goederenhubs Nederland. But one thing is certain: “It requires supply chain partners to change their behaviour.”

During a breakout session at the ICT & Logistics trade fair in Utrecht on 9 November 2023, Birgit Hendriks explained how Goederenhubs Nederland, as a specialist in urban logistics, is working to optimize logistics in city centres and reduce carbon emissions. Together with partner hubs in several Dutch cities, Goederenhubs solves the challenges of urban logistics by consolidating shipments from multiple shippers. Especially since electric vehicles are still not widely available and affordable, and have insufficient ranges, the organization has found the solution for urban logistics in collaboration. But how does Goederenhubs realize that?

Alternative incoterm

One of Hendriks’ first slides showed a visualization of the consolidation hub-based chain. This could be seen as a variant of the incoterm Delivered Duty Paid (DDP), under which the seller arranges all aspects of transportation and ensures the goods are delivered to the destination as agreed with the buyer. This includes the procurement of logistics services – and in the case of national deliveries that often means a single logistics provider which takes care of the entire transport from start to finish. “As a shipper, you lose the ability to choose the most optimal chain,” Hendriks pointed out.

“Ideally, we want to add a ‘Via city hub’ procurement model to the options, so that we can consolidate the last-mile deliveries in cities across the whole of the Netherlands. But this model means that shippers can’t just keep doing what they’ve always done. They have to change their behaviour, which means extra a hassle. In order to motivate shippers to start working on this despite that hassle, we’ve made a significant contribution to research by TNO and universities,” Hendriks continued, while showing the theoretical foundation of the approach. “As a result, we now have a very good understanding of how the chain works and sound knowledge of urban logistics.”

Robust IT platform

Moving from theory to practice, she explained that numerous players are involved in the hub. Cooperation between them all is facilitated by software from DeliveryMatch and BigMile. Shippers need adequate IT support when purchasing logistics services, which is why all customers and hub partners are connected to DeliveryMatch’s software platform. Shippers can add Goederenhubs Nederland as a carrier in their DeliveryMatch account.

Hendriks continued: “We need data to take control of the chain – and not just data, but information.” Thanks to the integration between BigMile and DeliveryMatch, opportunities to optimize both costs and carbon emissions are calculated in real time. This enables shippers to make real-time carbon-driven decisions in DeliveryMatch as early as the order process and therefore purchase from the carrier offering the best scenario.

New generation

“We’ve only been live for a week, but I believe very strongly in this collaboration,” said Hendriks. She followed this statement with a rhetorical question: “Do these three organizations complete the circle? The answer, of course, is ‘No’! Much more is needed. Collaboration means a behavioural change, and a behavioural change requires effort.” According to Hendriks, the transportation sector is not really working together yet: “We begrudge each other every cent.”

The urgency to change is being intensified by legislation such as the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, zero-emission zones, truck levies and the carbon tax. Hendriks, who is in her early sixties, indicated she is particularly looking at the younger generation to make the change. “The new generation have grown up differently. Set to work with those young people. Go ahead and put someone who has only been with your company for two years in the lead if they want to work on this issue.”

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