UNDERSTANDING THE SCALE-UP FREIGHT ROUTE PLANNER
The SCALE-UP project, an EU-funded Innovation Action, aims to create a more connected, climate-resilient, and user-centric multi-modal transport system in three European urban nodes: Madrid, Antwerp, and Turku. As part of this initiative, a freight route planner has been developed to enhance safe freight transport in Antwerp and the Antwerp Transport Region. Unlike conventional route planners, the SCALE-UP freight route planner takes into account various additional parameters, such as delivery windows, road categorization, tunnels, bridges, schools, and sharp turns, to suggest optimal routes. By avoiding unnecessary transport through city and village centers and encouraging the use of higher road networks, the freight route planner promotes efficient and safe transport while reducing the risk of accidents.
KEY ACTIVITIES: A success story
The dynamic routing tool being developed by Be-Mobile, the City of Antwerp, and the Antwerp Transport Region within the EU project Scale-Up is a prime example of a project closely aligned with the European Union’s policy for safer freight transport. As a key component in the TEN-T network, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges relies on efficient and secure freight transport to maintain its vital role in the region’s mobility system.
For this reason, and for the goal of achieving more sustainable and safer freight transport in the region as a whole, it is crucial to avoid unnecessary transport through cities and village centers, while also promoting transport via higher road networks. Taking this as the starting point, the freight route planner was developed by the three Scale-Up partners.
The commitment to promoting safe and sustainable freight transport is evident in the innovative features of this dynamic routing tool. By considering parameters such as car-free zones, delivery windows, road categorization, tunnels, bridges, live events, sharp turns, and school area perimeters, the tool generates safer routes, as well as more comfortable routes for drivers. This not only supports the EU’s policy objectives but also contributes to the overall well-being of the communities within the Antwerp Transport Region.
The tool’s initial pilot in 2019 has since evolved into a more dynamic and accessible solution for the entire transport region. Its integration with Be-Mobile’s Truckmeister navigation app and the development of an API for use with other navigation tools and transport companies showcase the project’s potential for widespread adoption across the EU.
The first version of the tool was successfully tested by Colruyt supermarket chain drivers and the City of Antwerp’s services, with valuable feedback leading to further refinements. The improved tool is now being tested by companies across the Antwerp Transport Region, providing a unique opportunity for them to provide feedback and contribute to the development of the route planner. After completing the route planner, a typical remaining challenge is achieving high adoption by truck drivers, which requires a coordinated approach involving the freight community, governance rules and guidelines, as well as the private sector.
Furthermore, attention must be paid to the input data used for the safe routing parameters. This challenge is twofold. As car-free areas, delivery windows, etc., change over time, information must be kept up to date with every change. However, often comprehensive and up-to-date databases for these parameters are lacking. The second aspect is the (automatic) integration of the data into the tool.
Nonetheless, when successfully rolled out, the freight route planner will not only enhance the efficiency and safety of freight transport in the Antwerp Transport Region but also serve as a model for other regions across the EU to follow.
“The innovative dynamic routing tool developed by Be-mobile, the City of Antwerp, and the Antwerp Transport Region demonstrates a strong commitment to promoting safe and sustainable freight transport in line with EU policy. Its features consider various parameters to generate safe and efficient routes, contributing to the well-being of communities while serving as an inspiration for other EU regions.”
Franziska Kupfer Antwerp Transport Region/Lantis