Logistics initiative will cut carbon emissions by reducing empty truck numbers

The ambitious Logistics Living Lab project uses emerging technologies for more intelligent logistics management.

Use of emerging technologies will improve logistics management and reduce supply chain emissions

Digital Catapult, UK leader in advanced digital technology, has launched an ambitious new project to cut the carbon emissions of empty and near-empty delivery trucks on the road. The project comes as road freight transportation and removal services produced 11.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2020, threatening UK progress to net zero 2050.

Freight accounts for 31% of all UK transport CO2 emissions – the main driver of climate related risks . The Logistics Living Lab aims to reduce this figure by leveraging emerging technologies including distributed ledger technology (DLT) and the internet of things (IoT) to reduce the number of empty trucks releasing pollutants into the atmosphere on roads across the country.  

Supply chain innovation

Integrating sustainable innovation into the supply chain, the Logistics Living Lab will see the development of a shared digital infrastructure for more intelligent management of vehicle slot filling, routing, and tracking to allow competing logistics providers to safely share information available truck space across their collective fleets, without the need for a single party needing full control or visibility of the whole system. 

The infrastructure, underpinned by DLT, aims to deliver greater coordination across the logistics sector without compromises to commercial sensitivity and security of data, while enabling greater operational efficiency.

Digital Catapult is leading the consortium of five leading digital innovators, with a shared goal of reducing emissions and increasing capacity utilisation, as it looks to encourage broader adoption of sustainable innovation in business and industry. The project will run until September 2024. 

Tim Lawrence, director of the Digital Supply Chain Hub said: “Manufacturers are facing unprecedented cost and risk pressures across all areas of their businesses, especially in their supply chains from increasing costs of energy, labour and logistics. There is growing demand from businesses to make supply chains more sustainable, and this logistics project can play a key role in demonstrating the benefits of working together to achieve this.”

Reducing costs and emissions

Leo Pickford, Head Of Business Change at Yusen Logistics, one of the companies involved in the project, said: “Our customers, who are often operating on wafer thin margins, need to find ways to reduce costs and cut emissions. Given that 25% of trucks still run empty, whilst a significant amount of operational planning is done at the last minute, logistics optimisation, particularly in Shared User Transport (SUT), is a key area where operational efficiency can be realised.”

“This project allows logistics companies like ours to collaborate and still compete in new and more efficient ways, with new business and governance models allowing logistics companies to work together to mutual advantage, reducing costs while working towards a more sustainable future.”

An observer gallery has been set up by Digital Catapult will allow organisations to build on the work of this exciting pilot with regular showcases of the work to date. Register on the Digital Supply Chain Hub site.