EUR-Fellowship Grant awarded to Wouter Verheyen PhD

Fotograaf: Michelle Muus

A €135.000,- EUR-fellowship grant has been awarded to Wouter Verheyen, PhD. This grant allows Verheyen, an expert in the field of Transport law, to conduct a three year research project on horizontal collaboration in logistics.

Over the last years, Verheyen has gained expertise in research at the crossroads of law and logistics. This is also the case with this project, which not only aims to respond to logistic innovations, but also to be a catalyst for such innovations.

Horizontal cooperation in logistics allows to realise efficiency gains. Albeit many types of horizontal cooperation are possible, the focus of this research lies with three types of cooperation: cargo bundling, platooning networks and cooperative e-commerce.

The goal of his research is to provide contract models for these types of cooperation, with rules on the design of the partnership, the daily operations, the distribution of costs and benefits and liability. Verheyen aims to develop these models bottom-up by taking logistic companies` preferences as a starting point. After first conducting a broad survey within the sector (the platooning survey will soon be running in 12 countries), his models will be experimentally tested by a small group of these companies. The final aim is to provide the models to the sector through an online tool.  

More cargo in a single haul
The first model under design is one for cargo bundling. With cargo bundling, different companies combine their respective cargos into a single haul. Cargo bundling greatly decreases empty running (i.e. trucks driving without a cargo), a significant and persistent money loser within the field of logistics.

Bundling can also be used to optimize the efficiency of truck loads. Nowadays, transportation of heavy products (steel plating, for example) often leaves a relatively large part of the available space unused. But when these loads are combined with a shipment of very light products (a shipment of pillows, for instance), collaborating companies will be able to use this space and increase the total number of products moved in a single haul.

The Future: Platooning
A second subject within Verheyen’s research project concerns the phenomenon on platooning. In the field of logistics, platooning occurs when a column of trucks is digitally linked to each other. The first truck acts as the driver for the entire column, so to speak. Future technology will permit the drivers of the other trucks to take their prescribed periods of rest during the actual drive.

Another great benefit of platooning will be a significant projected decrease of rear-end collisions on the road. When the first truck has to use the brakes, all other trucks of the column will automatically brake at the same time and speed. Unfortunately, this tech is currently unavailable on a large scale: at this point, the only great benefit of platooning is a drop in petrol usage. As the success of platooning depends on the available network of platooning ready vehicles, again cooperation could be the key to a successful introduction of this technology. For this reason again a legal framework for cooperation is desirable.

The costs of e-commerce
The third and last topic Verheyen plans to research has to do with possible improvements in the field of e-commerce, with an emphasis on reducing the costs connected to the exercise of the withdrawal right and damage during delivery. Since costumers often return products they have purchased online, webshops have to spend a lot of money on return shipments. To cut back on these costs, Verheyen advises webshops to think about ways to bundle these shipments. A possibility for webshops would be the establishment of joint physical return and collection points with their peers. By doing this, they would not only be able to cut costs, but also to curtail revocation rights and increase control over their deliveries.

More information

With the EUR Fellowships Scheme, the Erasmus University Rotterdam wants to provide recently graduated and talented researchers an extra sense of security in their academic career. Additionally, the EUR Fellowship should be seen as an incentive in trying to obtain external financing in spite of the increasingly lower chances of success.