Project description

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From recession to innovation. From CO2 to CO3.

The world economy is currently battling a severe depression. This is a threat, but also an opportunity for creative destruction. It is at such rare moments that the European logistics industry can be motivated to reconsider its ground rules and traditional ways of working, and that innovative ideas can gain ground.

The CO³ project dates back to the key findings of the European Intermodal Research Advisory Council (EIRAC), which is a peer group of more than 50 high level industry players involved in or related to European Supply Chains and is co-financed by the DG RTD of the European Commission. In November 2008, the EIRAC assembly identified the priority to increase the capacity utilization of European freight transport systems. 

At two assemblies in Rotterdam and in Valencia, EIRAC has identified efficiency as a priority area: low efficiency and lack of sufficient scale are in fact 2 of the key factors that hinder a faster development of more sustainable Co-modal transport solutions. EIRAC believed a key strategy to overcome these obstacles is to stimulate and facilitate industrial players to collaborate in their systems of Distribution of Goods (in accordance with art. 87 of the EU treaty).

The EIRAC has therefore mandated a task force of its members to put a project together to achieve such objectives. This is how the CO3 project proposal was born.

The mission of CO³ is to encourage a structural breakthrough in the competitiveness and sustainability of European logistics by stimulating horizontal collaboration between European shippers. To achieve this goal, horizontal flow bundling and co-modality scenarios, designed to be repeatable and scalable, will be created in a number of test cases.

Bundling of goods flows as the solution

Statistics show that 1 out of 4 freight vehicles are running empty and that the rest are filled only to 57% of their weight capacity.

Among the several strategies to be undertaken, this project is aiming at addressing horizontal collaboration. Capacity in the European transport system is being structurally underutilized. Carpooling for cargo”, also known as horizontal collaboration or smart bundling of goods flows of different companies, offers a powerful and innovative solution to tackle this problem.

Companies who collaborate and bundle their logistic flows can achieve dramatic benefits on economic, social and environmental levels. Up to now, shippers who want to collaborate in this way are too often hindered by practical obstacles in their way. It is one of the goals of “Collaborative Concepts for Co-Modality (CO³)” to eliminate these obstacles.

CO³ supports companies

Shippers who want to transport their goods across Europe with “fewer and friendlier miles”, can make use of the services of the CO³ consortium to identify potential bundling partners and to set up test projects.

To achieve this, CO3 will provide these companies with the necessary operational building blocks and provide active coaching during the implementation of the horizontal collaboration. The consortium will in parallel develop a legal framework for neutral ‘trustees’, an essential new actor in the creation of horizontal collaboration. In addition to standard multi-lateral transport contracts, also innovative concepts for gain sharing will be developed and tested.

The market relevance and practical progress of the CO³ project will be monitored by a ‘High Level Industry Board’, representing ca. 35 European companies from various industries.

This Board will act as a steering committee for the consortium and can adjust the focus where necessary.

During its lifespan, the CO3 project will implement across Europe real life test projects whose results and learning will be in the public domain. As such, the project will reach out and provide valuable information to logistics practitioners (businesses, shippers, logistics service providers). CO3 will also provide them with conferences and specific workshops and a platform where they can find potential collaboration partners.