First for new logistics model

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A new logistics model that could redefine national and regional freight and logistics strategies, has now completed its proof of concept.

Agent Based Intelligent, Integrated and Innovative Logistics (abi3l) is a £1.4m research and development project part funded by the Technology Strategy Board.

The project was launched at the beginning of September 2010 with a dedicated team established at Cranfield School of Management’s Complex Systems Research Centre. The consortium is led by MDS Transmodal, author of the GB Freight Model currently used by the Department for Transport, in partnership with LCP Consulting, and Barloworld Supply Chain Software.

It has been piloted on a port centric warehousing development on Merseyside and has achieved several firsts:

* The first integrated and predictive model of the UK freight transport system covering road, rail and ports.

* The first in terms of its scope and scale of application of this type of modelling.

* The first time such a comprehensive data set has been assembled relating to UK freight and logistics.

Government policy calls for investment in infrastructure to kick-start growth and the abi3l capability offers the chance to support evidence-based policy making across investment, regulation, fiscal measures and land use fronts.

The Merseyside pilot study showed that the location would attract a considerable expansion in logistics activity if more warehousing capacity was available. While the results of the pilot test are highly credible, the modelling and analysis is subject to some qualifications that will require further testing and experimentation.

Alan Braithwaite, chairman of LCP Consulting and visiting professor at Cranfied, said: “The abi3l project has shown that we can build models with this multi-modal bandwidth that generate results that support radical policy and investment decision making. There is still more work to be done but it is now clear that this technology will provide a toolset to support major companies and the public sector to collaborate intelligently on how to deliver sustainability in freight transport.”

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