Urban Consolidation Centres (UCCs), where deliveries are combined before shipping into town centres, can play an important role in helping local authorities to meet emission targets and reduce congestion, according to the UK’s Transport Systems Catapult (TSC).
The TSC, on behalf of the Department for Transport (DfT), have developed an economic assessment tool that estimates the cost and benefits of moving towards a logistics consolidation model.
The TSC applied the tool to the University Hospital Southampton Foundation Trust (UHS) as a case study. Its data suggests that by moving towards consolidation and using the UCC operated by Meachers Global Logistics in Southampton, deliveries to the hospital could be reduced from 867 a week to 25, bringing, it says, benefits in terms of efficiency savings for the hospital as well as wider benefits to the community, such as reducing congestion, road casualties and improving air quality levels.
It adds that air quality is of particular importance in Southampton, as it is one of the UK cities and towns required by government to take action to bring nitrogen dioxide concentrations within legal limits in the shortest possible time. The study suggests that UCCs can help towns and cities, like Southampton, meet their air quality obligations through the reduction of goods vehicle miles in urban areas.
UCCs are logistics facilities situated close to the area that it serves. Goods destined for this area are dropped off at the Centre and consolidated onto suitable commercial vehicles for delivery to their final destination.
Financial viability has been the main barrier to successful adoption, with UCCs often requiring public sector subsidy to maintain operations. However, TSC says by creating an economic model which shows the financial value of the benefits for all stakeholders, it was able to show that the benefits can significantly outweigh the costs.
Andrew Traill, the TSC’s Principal Technologist for Freight and Logistics explained, “The uptake of Urban Consolidation Centres has traditionally been low in the UK, due to the costs of establishing and running an extra step in the logistics supply chain. However, as towns and cities face increasing congestion alongside the need to reduce harmful emissions and other local environmental impacts, ‘outside the box’ thinking like this needs to be reconsidered. Ultimately, this model can lead to cleaner towns and cities and more efficient deliveries, whilst producing a much-needed relief to road systems which are struggling with traffic volumes.”