Developing sustainable Intermodal Transport Networks: a challenge for logistics

As 2020 comes to an end, in this final issue of the Odiseo of 2019 I want to focus on networks and the elements that make them up. There are a few main protagonists: the people they serve and, in many cases, those who benefit from them.

The western Mediterranean is an area composed, in the South, of Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. In the North the Sea houses the countries of Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Malta. It is home to a total of about 290 million people. It has a young South, where 43% of the population is under 25 years old, compared to the 25% in the northern countries. In the North the situation is reversed, where 33% of the people are 55 years old or older. In the south, this number does not reach 15%. The North hosts about 190 million inhabitants facing close to a hundred million in the South.

The three networks that structure the development of our society

Why are we talking about networks? We live immersed in all kinds of networks, and often we are not very aware of them. Our society and economy are built around three major networks: energy, telecommunications and transport. In Europe, these first appeared in the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, and their function was primarily set to link all regions, contribute to the growth of the internal market and job creation, while simultaneously achieving environmental and sustainable development objectives.

These networks serve us efficiently on a daily basis. For transport to function smoothly, we need energy networks, comprising petrol stations, electricity charging points, natural gas supply points and, as well as the currently emerging, new, less polluting energy sources.

Telecommunications allow us to make digital payments by cards, financial transactions, give us access to the World Wide Web, e-commerce, e-mail, IoT and capture data for the use of intelligent transport management systems, among many others.

In transport services, we have two clear examples: the container, which is already widespread through the global network, and is generally accepted and not questioned by the industry members, and on the opposite side of the coin – the railways, which in today’s climate need to make progress to obtain better standardisation systems. This is particularly true in Spain.

Each network has to follow its own operating rules. For example, when we go to a gas station, we know what kind of fuel is there on offer. In the field of electronic communications, the Internet has taken control of the entire market. We have already mentioned the containers in which 20, 40 or 45 feet have become the norm. On the roads, more and more signalling systems and traffic rules are becoming unified. Finally, in road construction itself, international standards are used to classify the different categories.

Building a network

Networks facilitate progress. There are set architectural designs that have been developed to ensure such progress, and which almost always has positive consequences. A network is built with supporting infrastructures. In communication networks, we have service stations and, in some cases, gas pipelines for the transport of fuels or gas. In the field of transport, we have ports, logistics platforms, roads and road and rail infrastructures.

We can then turn to these infrastructures and provide services that support the network. It may involve the simultaneous incorporation of several networks that are necessary to be able to provide the services that the networks have as their main objectives. Finally, operational regulations and a form of governance needs to exist that will establish rules, standards, access and guidelines, among other things that would facilitates their use and growth.

Once an adequate operational structure is established, the network must develop to consolidate. This requires collaboration and information sharing. Best practices, training, and working with specialised groups are important for the take-off and growth of a network. Once a certain size is attained, the network will be able to contribute with more value before becoming a normality. For example, today, it would be very difficult and costly to replace the Internet or the widespread use of maritime containers.

With a consolidated network, new services, new functionalities, transaction optimizations, new challenges and new components emerge.

Transport Networks

Europe proposed a trans-European network in the same way as Ferrmed[1] proposed a rail network in the Mediterranean. Since then, networks of logistic towing of semi-trailers closely linked to short sea shipping have been proposed. These then help improve freight transport systems and reduce overall costs. When thinking of transport units, these would be our core networks for manufactured products, while for ro-ro transport, RO-RO vessels and ferries are heavily relied on.

The first element that emerges is the topology of the network. We start from the basic elements that make up networks: nodes and vectors, which in turn form different sets according to the product flows and the criteria with which they are constituted. Taking the airport model as a reference, a modern mode of transport that has evolved very quickly and efficiently, we can see that there are networks with point-to-point relationships that have evolved into networks with hub and spoke nodes that have allowed us to respond to the sizes of the aircrafts. And this, in turn, has evolved into hybrid systems. Thus it can be summed up that the network is configured according to the means of transport, structure and volume of traffic.

When looking at the port level in the Mediterranean region, there are clearly defined Hub ports, such as Algeciras and TangerMED. Ports that could be classified as hinterland or Gateways also exist. These include the likes of the Ports of Casablanca, Barcelona, Genoa or Civitavecchia.

Today, we have a network that is used to set priorities and let me say that I believe that it is above all a question of avoiding arbitrary decisions or decisions that can only be justified for reasons that have nothing to do with the efficiency of transport infrastructure and services.

A network seeks to develop a competitive and resource-efficient transport system, as indicated in the Commission’s 2011 White Paper on Transport. A network enables the internal market to function properly and strengthens economic, social and territorial cohesion. It facilitates the mobility of people and goods in a simple, safe and sustainable way. It facilitates accessibility and connectivity in all regions that contribute to economic development and competitiveness. And, instead of focusing only on the European region, it is interest to think about the Western Mediterranean per se and to have a good starting point with some of the important criteria for building the networks that are needed today.

TEN-T Network structure

The Trans-European Transport Network has a two-layers structure, comprising a core network and a comprehensive network covering all Member States.

It is a core network that exists without bottlenecks or discontinuities to facilitate interoperability between the different modes of transport.

It exists with urban nodes, logistics platforms, freight terminals, ports, rail terminals, airports, and with a maritime dimension with the motorways of the sea. The TEN-T is a network that uses innovative technological solutions, which have a vital role to play in transforming transport to make it accessible to all citizens and to create a safer, more sustainable, low-carbon and energy-efficient system.

The core network corridors cover the most important long-distance flows of the core network and aim, in particular, to improve cross-border links within the Union.

These corridors are multimodal and are open to the inclusion of all modes of transport. They shall cross at least two borders and, if possible, include at least three modes of transport, including the motorways of the sea, where appropriate.

In addition, special attention is paid to the measures necessary to ensure the safety of fuels through increased energy efficiency and promote the use of alternative energy sources and propulsion systems, in particular low-carbon or carbon-free; to reduce the exposure of urban areas to the negative effects of transit transport by rail and road; and to help the removal of administrative and technical barriers, in particular to the interoperability of the trans-European transport network and to competition.

WestMED corridors

When thinking about the Western Mediterranean, or the WestMED area, the corridors of particular interest to the Escola are:

  • The Baltic-Adriatic Corridor (Poland-Slovakia-Austria-Italy)
  • The Atlantic Corridor (Portugal-Spain-France)
  • The North Sea – Baltic Sea corridor (Finland – Estonia – Latvia – Lithuania – Poland – Germany – Netherlands – Belgium)
  • The North-Mediterranean Sea Corridor (Ireland-United Kingdom- -Bass-Netherlands-Belgium-Luxembourg-South France, because Brexit became Ireland-Belgium-Netherlands and France).
  • The Mediterranean corridor (Spain-France- North Italy-Slovenia-Croatia-Hungary)
  • Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor (Finland-Sweden-Denmark-Germany-Austria-Italy)

The corridor approach can be used as an instrument to coordinate different projects on a transnational basis and synchronise its development, thus maximising the benefits of the network. These projects should contribute to cohesion through better territorial cooperation. In order to ensure effective and efficient implementation of the corridors, each corridor is supported by a European coordinator.

Ports have come to play a fundamental role in structuring the network because they are the main modal exchange points. If we focus on the WestMed area which includes the Atlantic area, the Alboran Sea, the Balearic Sea and the Tyrrhenian Sea, we have 20  main ports in the network. In Portugal Porto, Aveiro, Lisboa and Sines; in Spain Seville, Algeciras, Cartagena, Valencia, Tarragona and Barcelona ; In France Perpignan and Marseille. In Italy, Genoa, La Spezia, Livorno, Civitavecchia – Rome, Naples, Gioia Tauro and Palermo; and in Malta Valetta.

Seaports Infrastructure on the Network

Seaports are the entry and exit points into the land infrastructure of the core network.

Equipment associated with maritime transport infrastructure may include equipment for traffic management and freight transport, for the reduction of negative effects, including negative environmental effects, and for the use of alternative fuels, as well as for dredging, maintenance and security of the port and port access.

Maritime transport infrastructure includes in particular: maritime space, sea lanes, sea ports, including infrastructure necessary for transport operations in the port area, port connections with other modes of the TEN-T network, docks, locks and quays, aids to navigation, port access and canals, jetties, motorways of the sea, related equipment and telematic applications, including electronic maritime services.

Motorways of the Sea

TEN-T policy also focuses on the development of the “Motorways of the Sea” (MoS), for which a European coordinator is responsible for leading the process of its harmonised implementation.

A European maritime space without barriers, which I hope will soon become a Mediterranean space without barriers, includes short sea shipping lanes, ports, associated marine infrastructure, equipment and facilities. It aims to simplify administrative procedures allowing the operation of short sea shipping services between at least two ports, including their hinterland connections.

MoS include seaports on the core network or between a port on the core network and a port in a third country. This means that today, the port of the third country cannot receive direct funding, but it can benefit from the funding received by the whole operation. It also includes port facilities, freight terminals, logistics platforms and freight platforms located outside the port area, but associated with port operations, information and communication technologies (ICT), security and safety, and administrative and customs procedures in at least one State.

Today, MoS operations also include activities aimed to improve environmental performances of the vessels, ports and hinterland operators, which includes shore-based electricity supply that helps ships reduce their emissions, airworthiness activities throughout the year (dredging), alternative re-fuelling facilities, the optimization of processes and procedures, the human element that would include training, and finally the ICT platforms and information systems, including traffic management systems and electronic reporting systems.

Shipping Lines

Shipping lines are the networks’ champions. Existing or new maritime services that form part of a door-to-door logistics chain, help group freight flows into viable, regular, frequent and high quality short sea shipping links.

The MoS network can replace a significant part of the expected increase in road transport.

The Lines are now an essential part of the network configuration. They are the real protagonists of the operations. Almost all of them private, and as such they bet their money.

The evolution of the sector will depend to a large extent on this. Infrastructures are indispensable, but they are far from sufficient. The services and quality offered will determine the future. Opportunities for improving exports depend to a large extent on traders and customs. We hope that together we can help them to develop properly.

 

 

 

Railway connections

The rail part is now one of the main elements of port development. In Barcelona the company VIIA offers rail motorway services. These are new and very powerful concepts. Trucks can now travel on the motorways of the sea to connect with the railways motorways that connect Northern and Central Europe with very short transit time and high-quality services. This represents a new way of understanding intermodality, which is currently undergoing spectacular development. Today, we have significant volumes in the transport of semi-trailers, cars, containers, and refrigerated containers, and in most parts of the continent the rail market in ports continues to grow. This, sadly is not the case in the Spanish rail freight transport market.

Digitization of transport operations

Finally, one of the elements that is of vital importance at this time is the digitization of transport operations. This technological aspect of the networks enables traffic management and information exchanges within and between modes of transport for multimodal transport operations and transport related value-added services, improves safety, environmental performance and simplifies administrative procedures.

The digital services should facilitate a seamless connection between the core network infrastructures and regional and local transport infrastructure. An important player is the Port Community System.  In Barcelona we have Portic and in Morocco we have PortNET. They will play a fundamental role in the digitization of operations in their respective areas.

The digitization of transport operations is linked to a topical subject in Europe (but one that is increasingly catching on in Morocco, Tunis and Algeria on the other side of the Mediterranean): one of the National Single Windows.  I believe that they represent an unique opportunity as customs can take advantage of all the information they receive. If a framework of trust between the public administration of all this countries is possible, then the increase in the speed of operations will be inevitable. I hope they can give us joy in the near future.

The money factor

And I’ll finish with the money. Everything that has been proposed must be funded. Europe has embarked on a path where it relies heavily on sophisticated financing models. These include PPP, participation with bonds, bank financing, subsidies, etc.

One of the sources that provides clarity on this subject in Europe is the information from the European Parliament, which is working on the “Multiannual Financial Framework – LEGISLATIVE TRAIN 11.2019” programme, set to cover the period between 2021 to 2027.

This programme will replace the CEF and aims to develop transport, energy and digital infrastructure within the framework of the trans-European networks. With very significant investment figures, since it is 42.3 billion euros, compared to 23.2 billion for the 2014-2020 period of the EFC. It sets out certain priorities that will have to be analysed: decarbonization, digitization, transition to clean energy and improve digital connectivity.

Conclusions

Finally, we circle back to the beginning, to the transport networks: Trans-European, Trans-Maghreb, Trans-African or international. They will all fight to compete and, in some cases, to cooperate and develop.

Today, we know that the China Belt and the Silk Road initiative could complete a logistics chain from Japan to Russia to Central and Northern Europe. This reconfigures the world again, with transit times of 19 days between Japan and Europe. We are live in exciting times.

I would like to leave you a message, summarizing what was said before:

Networks are a fundamental element for the development of advanced societies; A network is solid if it is easy to use.

Logistics is a networking factor which can help us improve the countries in which we live in.

Let’s do it!

Eduard Rodés

Director

Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport

 

[1] http://www.ferrmed.com/sites/default/files/2019-04/FERRMED%20GLOBAL%20STUDY%20BOOK.pdf

2020

If you work in shipping and after seeing this number the first thing that comes to your mind is EMISSIONS, then you are on the right track!

In the previous Blue Innovation post we talked about the OPS as the means to control emissions in ports. However, seafarers have a saying that says “A ship in port is safe; but that is not what ships are built for,” which reminds us that a ship spends most of its life time in navigation. Even though emissions in port directly influence the communities nearby, the emissions from ships affect the environment in general.

It is not a new development for the IMO to work towards environmental responsibility. Since 1997 it has officially had the MARPOL Convention. In terms of emissions, by 2005 chapter VI of the convention has entered into force which aimed to control SOx, NOx, and other particle emissions that affect the earth’s ozone layer. Each year there is more responsibility and pressure coming from the IMO, encompassing the complex discussion of measures in favour of the environment within the complex understanding of the great changes and challenges involved in the issue. The complexity is there as it is a decision that calls for the necessary initiatives and technologies to be able to improve (decrease) emissions, considering the responsibility implied by the potential incidents that would affect the means of transport that mobilises 80% of the world’s goods.

The IMO has been known to set emission guidelines for decades, however quite a bit of controversy has surrounded the 2020 expectations. For instance, currently the global limit of sulphur contents of ships’ fuel oil is 3.5% and with the entry into force of the new limitations on the 1st of January 2020, emissions will need to be reduced to 0.5% SOx. The ECA zones will not be affected with this limitation, as these emissions have already been limited in 2015 from 1.0% to 0.1%.

What do all these changes mean and how to they relate to our Blue Innovation section? In this issue many of the alternative solutions to the challenges set by the IMO 2020 regulation will be listed, which will then be provided with source links for anyone wishing to delve deeper into the subjects.

In a way, as a consequence of the global concerns and pressures to tackle climate change, technological developments are the ones that are going to be able to face all these changes with the smallest possible impact on the global economy. This signifies the need to not only change the fuel type used by commercial vessels, but the logistics of bunker supply, adaptation of machinery and installations and procedures that take a lot of time as well, especially when thinking about more than 95,000 merchant ships worldwide.

ALTERNATIVE FUELS

In order to meet the new IMO regulations, ships have several options, including fuel quality (low sulphur fuel oil) and alternative fuels (methanol, biofuels, LNG, H2, etc.), which require major adaptations to the engine systems.

M/V AIDA Nova on LNG bunker operation at the Port of Barcelona. Source: http://www.spanishports.es/texto-diario/mostrar/1401337/puerto-barcelona-recibe-primer-crucero-propulsado-gas-natural-licuado

 

HYBRID AND ELECTRIC PROPULSION SYSTEMS

On the other hand, some proposals include the use of hybrid systems combining of diesel-electric, gas-electric or even ones relying solely on electricity. The first are systems that combine the operation of a fuel for the generation of energy that is stored in batteries and used according to operational needs, thus distributing and optimizing emissions. It is also true that since 2015 fully electric ships have been a reality in the market, but due to their short autonomy, they have not spread out.

WIND SYSTEMS

Wind propulsion has also been a part of the proposals. It contemplates (depending on the type of vessels) the possibility of implementing systems that help propulsion through the use of wind force. Some examples of such systems are DynaRig, Flettner-Rotors and even research projects such as Wind & Solar Power for Sustainable Shipping or the Kite propulsion system. These systems are not intended to replace the engines but can compensate an operational process of slow steaming without resulting in significant changes in the journey.

Maersk Pelican with Rotor Sails, project done by Norsepower confirmed savings of 8.2 % fuel and associated CO2.
http://wind-ship.org/norsepower//

AFTER-TREATMENT EMISSION CONTROL

Alongside the previously mentioned alternatives, there are after-treatment emission control systems such as Integrating SOx and NOx Abatement, Selective Catalytic Reduction or scrubbers which, despite their investment, have come to be seen as viable options for shipping companies in which open (sea water) or closed (fresh water) systems function as filters to reduce PM by 80% and SOx by up to 98%.

Exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) https://www.dnvgl.com/expert-story/maritime-impact/Scrubbers-at-a-glance.html

The availability of so many alternatives does not mean that following the IMO rules will be easy. Many of the proposed solutions require a lot of investment, result in large operating costs, require major changes in systems and equipment or massive supply capacities for fleets. Each shipping company will have to adapt according to their routes, facilities and structures, and choose a system that complies with emissions regulations.

All of this is accompanied by other alternative technologies that, while not necessarily reduce emissions, help in the performance of the ship and therewith improve its overall environmental footprint. The improvements could be new aerodynamics, low resistance paints, trim optimization, optimization of aerodynamics of propellers and rudders, optimized pumping in cooling systems, and even the use of big data to improve the sensors in equipment and prevent excessive consumption by optimizing the maintenance or the use of data to predict optimal routes according to environmental conditions.

There is no doubt that the Blue Economy will be affected by the 2020 regulations. The world’s waking up to the threats and dangers posed by climate change, and all of the world’s industries are adapting. The maritime world will perhaps be the one most affected by the new rules as, being responsible for 80% of all trade in an increasingly globalised society, it is one of the more significant polluters. As in any case though, challenges bring new and innovative solutions, and we are very excited to see what the industry will bring in the coming years to continue to innovate and protect our Blue Economy.

Written by:

  • Vanessa Bexiga – Operations Manager (Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport)

Useful links:

The Escola reaffirms its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals

Days away from 2020, the Escola Europea reflects on the achievements made during the year. The Sustainable Development Goals have been set to solidify the urgent changes that society would need to make to tackle social inequality, climate change, poverty, and political turmoil, among others.

With this in light, the Escola’s work in 2019 can be summarised as follows:

  • In 2019, the Escola has organised a staggering 42 courses (nearing one course per week), and welcomed participants from Spain, Belgium, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Morocco, Algeria, Peru, Colombia and Mexico. There was an increase in the number of participants coming from the Magred, which could be explained with the success of the TransLogMED project and the growth of the North African trade networks. In total, 1,485 students passed through the Escola’s doors and took advantage of the unique course-workshops.
  • 2019 also saw the creation and fulfilment of new technical courses. Curricula and course programmes were prepared for the Temperature-Controlled Freight transport Course, detailed plan were made for the Port Operations Summer school (which now took the form of a 2 week course, separated by vessels and goods), and the Groupage and Consolidation Course was further extended. Successful courses were also carried out for the former two technical courses, with a Groupage course planned for the spring of 2020.
  • The Escola’s courses are constantly undergoing improvements and modifications. In 2019 the team created a Log Book to give to the students at the start of each course, which contains tasks, puzzles and activities that further enrich the participants’ experiences.
  • Formati al Porto was officially launched in Italy, demonstrating the huge success the programme has attained in Barcelona and its appeal to other termional communities.
  • The Escola has had it’s first paper published in a conference – the annual World of Shipping International Research Conference on Maritime Affairs. The paper, which can be found here, summarised the current state of experiential training methods in Europe, and provided a quantitative analysis of the approach applied to the Escola’s courses. Thank you to all of the Escola’s partners and alumni who have generously submitted their survey responses to help us carry out the study.

2020 shows all signs of being a very intensive one for the Escola Europea, with technical courses for professionals planned for the spring, the summer school, and the usual MOST courses in the autumn. In the past decade, the organisation has increased its influence in Europe and throughout the Mediterranean through the development of new and innovative courses for students and professionals, the signing of new agreements with influential universities and training centres, and the active participation in European projects, and 2019 has shown that it is continuing to do so, whilst applying the Global Development Goals to its activities.

The Escola Europea reaffirms its commitment to training and the Motorways of the Sea

Days away from 2020, the Escola Europea reflects on the achievements made during the year. The Sustainable Development Goals have been set to solidify the urgent changes that society would need to make to tackle social inequality, climate change, poverty, and political turmoil, among others.

With this in light, the Escola’s work this year can be summarised as follows:

  • In 2019, the Escola has organised a staggering 42 courses (nearing one course per week), and welcomed participants from Spain, Belgium, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Morocco, Algeria, Peru, Colombia and Mexico. There was an increase in the number of participants coming from the Magred, which could be explained with the success of the TransLogMED project and the growth of the North African trade networks. In total, 1,485 students passed through the Escola’s doors and took advantage of the unique course-workshops.
  • 2019 also saw the creation and fulfilment of new technical courses. Curricula and course programmes were prepared for the Temperature-Controlled Freight transport Course, detailed plan were made for the Port Operations Summer school (which now took the form of a 2 week course, separated by vessels and goods), and the Groupage and Consolidation Course was further extended. Successful courses were also carried out for the former two technical courses, with a Groupage course planned for the spring of 2020.
  • The Escola’s courses are constantly undergoing improvements and modifications. In 2019 the team created a Log Book to give to the students at the start of each course, which contains tasks, puzzles and activities that further enrich the participants’ experiences.
  • Formati al Porto was officially launched in Italy, demonstrating the huge success the programme has attained in Barcelona and its appeal to other termional communities.
  • The Escola has had it’s first paper published in a conference – the annual World of Shipping International Research Conference on Maritime Affairs. The paper, which can be found here, summarised the current state of experiential training methods in Europe, and provided a quantitative analysis of the approach applied to the Escola’s courses. Thank you to all of the Escola’s partners and alumni who have generously submitted their survey responses to help us carry out the study.

2020 shows all signs of being a very intensive one for the Escola Europea, with technical courses for professionals planned for the spring, the summer school, and the usual MOST courses in the autumn. In the past decade, the organisation has increased its influence in Europe and throughout the Mediterranean through the development of new and innovative courses for students and professionals, the signing of new agreements with influential universities and training centres, and the active participation in European projects, and 2019 has shown that it is continuing to do so, whilst applying the Sustainable Development Goals to its activities.

For more information, visit the Escola’s website at www.escolaeuropea.eu or write to info@escolaeuropea.eu.