The growth of Internet purchases is breaking records, and there is a high demand of new solutions to manage the increasing volume of shipments.
This situation requires the erection of large storage warehouses and small distribution centres, the transformation of physical shops into small logistics premises and the use of sustainable delivery vehicles.
As a report published in the Spanish newspaper El País reads, the logistic sector is currently under a revolution led by cities with a desirable geostrategic situation. Zaragoza is one of them, where a very powerful logistics activity has taken place for years.
Mr. Angel Gil, Manager of the Aragon Logistics Cluster (ALIA), stated in El País: “This is a first-class logistics centre. There are Spanish companies that, when conducting business visits in China or the USA, can see a drawing pin on Zaragoza on their world maps.”
In the recent months, the investor’s eye goes beyond big cities and are focusing on medium-sized cities like Zaragoza and even those with a population of less than 50,000 inhabitants. Their geostrategic location is ideal for transforming them into hubs that satisfy the demand for fast and safe deliveries.
But what are the keys that make Zaragoza a strategic centre?
Zaragoza is located in the northeast of the Iberian Peninsula, and it is the natural crossroads of the way between Madrid and Barcelona (the two biggest cities in Spain) and part of the Cantabrian coast (Cantabria and the Basque Country) and Valencia.
Short distance from other large cities:
The city is less than 300 kilometres from Madrid, Barcelona, Vitoria or Pau (south-west of France). For companies, this means a fortunate position for the low transport costs involved. Lorry drivers, for example, do not need to make long stops between journeys.
Relevant logistic hubs:
Zaragoza is a key logistical point as the city holds Pla-Za, the Zaragoza Logistics Platform, an area of more than 13 million square metres where more than 350 companies have warehouses and logistics centres.
According to Ms. Ana Jiménez, European Projects Technician in Smart City Department at Zaragoza City Council, involved in SENATOR: “Zaragoza has a long tradition around logistics, sitting at a crossroads and it is a city strategically placed. On this ground, its Pla-Za logistic platform has become in the last decades one of the main logistic hubs in Southern Europe. For instance, all world women shipments from Zara / Inditex are hosted there, and Zaragoza Airport is the second in Spain in cargo operations, only behind Madrid – Barajas.”
Zaragoza is a city with not very much traffic, what makes it accessible. It is also a city linked to other infrastructures for the local and regional traffic: a cargo airport, a dry port, rail transport and motorways…All this makes it able to interconnect routes.
Numerous technological projects on mobility and digitalisation of the city:
These are transforming Zaragoza into a reference point for the sector worldwide. For example, the city holds a Sustainable Urban Mobility Plan (PMUS), promotes some citizen-participative initiatives, such as the Open Urban Lab and has participated in European projects related to Smart Cities initiatives, among other activities.
These are some of the projects Zaragoza is currently involved in:
- Etopia. Center for Arts and Technology, the flagship innovation hub of the city and headquarters of its Smart City Department. Inside “Etopia. Center for Arts and Technology”, the Open Urban Lab is the place where dynamics in co-creation in the areas of Energy, Mobility, Environment and Social Inclusion take place.
- The initiative Mobility City, with headquarters in the Zaha Hadid’s Bridge Pavillion, a showroom for the mobility of the future involving the industrial and financial sectors, as well as the University and the main local and regional administrations.
- Zaragoza Logistics Center, a joint initiative with the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, a true generator of knowledge in smart logistics for the area.
- Zaragoza City Card as the “enabling” city platform ready for plugging new public services. Zaragoza Citizen Card is an all-in-one key to the digital city, that gives access to more than 15 different public services, and whose API can be accessed by third parties to create services upon. This turns the Zaragoza Citizen Card into a platform for urban innovation, allowing to deploy cross-organizational initiatives, such as gamification, smart pricing, etc. to promote sustainable urban policies.
A downtown with business and retail activities:
Zaragoza provides with business activities focused on the central market (at least 80 retailers), offering a parking area and loading bays found in this area.
“If it can work in Zaragoza, it can also work elsewhere in Spain”
These characteristics of Zaragoza make the city ideal for testing SENATOR project. According to Mr. Daniel Sarasa, the Managing Director of the Zaragoza City of Knowledge Foundation and participant in SENATOR: “Zaragoza has a nature of a testing-lab city. For demographic purpose, it has been traditionally considered as the average Spanish city and therefore used by many companies to test and launch innovative products and services. It is said that “if it can work in Zaragoza, it can also work elsewhere in Spain”.” Being considered as a logistics hub and a test bed, he added, “make Zaragoza have a breeding grown for SENATOR.”
SENATOR is an innovation project aiming at developing a multi-collaborative platform to bring together stakeholders in urban freight logistics. “Innovating around retail sector is one of the priorities in our agenda, both due to a structural problem and to the pandemic situation. Besides, shopping is one of the main contributors to traffic and pollution. Experimenting new policies around last mile delivery and on-line shopping might result in benefits both for our local retail sector and for our citizens,” Sarasa declared.
The project, focused on enhancing the sustainability of cities, puts the citizens in the centre. “In this sense, Zaragoza can provide SENATOR with new and realistic approaches in which co-creation, inclusion and innovation play a central role,” Jiménez added.