Simulation-based Evaluation of Urban Consolidation Centers Considering Urban Access Regulations

Since the early 1990s, managing urban freight has become a key challenge in urban management and led to the rise of city logistics initiatives in research and practice. Much of this research and many schemes in practice focus on reducing the negative impacts associated with urban freight transport (e.g. congestion, pollutant emissions, noise) by means of consolidation and collaboration strategies without negatively affecting the economic and social activities within the urban area. In this context, particular attention has been given to Urban Consolidation Centers (UCCs) which are a widely studied measure in city logistics. The basic principle of a UCC is to reduce the number of urban freight transports by bundling freight in a logistics facility in the proximity of an urban area and transshipping it onto vehicles with increased load factors. Although more than 100 implementations of UCCs have been reported in the literature, many projects failed due to low participation and therefore financing problems.

A critical factor for the success of UCC schemes are government policies. Local authorities pursue the goal to make freight transport more sustainable and therefore support the realization of UCCs in different ways. Besides financial support in form of subsidies, regulatory measures are often adopted to promote the use of the UCC.

In practice, many cities already have some form of urban access regulations to regulate the traffic of heavy goods vehicles regardless of the existence of a UCC. Especially delivery time windows within city centers and pedestrian zones, in particular, represent a popular measure to regulate urban freight deliveries. In addition, as a consequence of continuing air quality problems in urban areas, further measures such as for example truck bans and congestion charges are either already implemented or being discussed in many places.

Although UCCs and urban access regulations are intertwined through similar goals and interference, only relatively little is known about the interrelations between both. The aim of this paper is to study the cost-attractiveness of carrier-led UCCs under various urban access regulations. For this reason, we develop an agent-based simulation model to examine the question of how urban access regulations influence the cost-attractiveness of UCC schemes. We consider an entire region, where carriers have to perform deliveries to receivers within a city and smaller surrounding municipalities. Thereby, only transport orders located in the UCC service area can be assigned to a UCC. By using a GIS-based street network and actual retailer and carrier locations we assess the impact of a UCC and urban access regulations on the operations of carriers in an entire region, including both urban and non-urban deliveries.

Logistics simulation model: Maps of the Frankfurt Rhine-Main area and Frankfurt city center with the UCC location

Logistics simulation model: Maps of the Frankfurt Rhine-Main area and Frankfurt city center with the UCC location