InLog – Innovative logistics concepts for increased coastal and inland shipping

How can innovative logistics concepts for increased inland and coastal shipping be developed? This has been in focus for the recently completed research project InLog, a collaborative project between SSPA and the University of Gothenburg, with industrial participation from Avatar Logistics and Seadvise.

- To accelerate the desirable modal shift from land to sea transport, we need to look beyond today's limitations in business models, regulations, freight flow, and ship concepts, says Vendela Santén,  project manager at SSPA. Among other things, a concept for an electric container vessel has been developed within the framework of this project.

All key actors have important roles in contributing to the realization of inland shipping. Authorities need to encourage inland waterway traffic by supporting inland shipping in regulations, continuing with coordination activities and following set goals. Ports need to create competitive conditions and pursue the issue as a key player.

Transport operators (shipping companies) need to continue to market inland shipping and demonstrate that there are sustainable and reliable solutions. Cargo owners need to show willingness to test inland shipping and transfer cargo volumes. Freight forwarders should market alternatives on inland waterways, in order to identify important volumes for inland shipping. Long-term sustainability is based on a broad support behind inland shipping as an important alternative in the Swedish transport system.

- It is clear that many actors need to be involved to realize increased inland shipping, says Vendela Santén. Not least transport operators, ports, authorities, cargo owners and shipping companies. As an individual entrepreneur, running a realization process is a challenging process. New transport arrangements need support in the very difficult initial stage.

She continues:

- Basically, it is about the need for more actors working towards the same goal, and thereby create conditions for using the inland waterways to a greater extent. The authorities can act even more forcefully to support the development, especially in the start-up phase. Cargo owners need to see inland shipping as a real alternative and dare to try to transfer volumes to new solutions. The ports need to work more actively as a key partner and contribute to solutions.

An important factor for inland shipping is sustainability. An emission-free port shuttle was preferred before other alternatives when these were compared. Above all, the freight forwarders emphasized the added value of the emission-free alternative that can be used in the discussion with the cargo owners to make the offer more attractive. From the shipping company's perspective, however, it is a cost challenge to invest in a new vessel with new technology. How the costs associated with developing an emission-free vessel should be handled is not entirely obvious. The transport alternative must be competitive in terms of price, both in relation to road transport and rail, in order to be considered by customers at all.

- InLog has identified several issues that need to be investigated in further research, states Vendela Santén. We now want to further contribute to the development of coastal and inland shipping nationally. It is important to continue to follow new initiatives and to understand success factors, including the distribution of roles and risks, in order for a start-up to be successful and a sustainable business model to be established.

InLog is part of a larger Interreg project, IWTS 2.0 - Inland Waterway Transport Solutions - which involves parties in Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany. It has enabled an international research exchange and collaboration with this project.

This research project has received funding from Vinnova, VGR and Interreg NSR

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