Transportation and especially urban transport has always been a field in civil engineering I was particularly interested in. Planning, designing and managing the daily transport of goods with the use of the latest technology forms the core of my PhD research. In the case study of Volos, a medium-sized port city north of Athens, our research team analysed alternative solutions to find the most efficient one. The goal of this analysis was to create a guidebook for future practitioners to help them evaluate smart city solutions by using PTV Vissim.
Finding the right solution to improve the logistics system of Volos in Greece
With the team of the Traffic, Transportation and Logistics laboratory of the University of Thessaly, I evaluated three logistics solutions for the city of Volos with regard to policies and techniques. Based on environmental and transport-related indicators, we compared historical data from the year 2017 and a forecast model for 2030. The results showed that a city logistics system with high efficiency can be developed. Simulation is the right tool because it provides a comprehensive way for engineers to test and explore different solutions under various assumptions and conditions for short- and long-term planning. PTV Vissim has all those necessary elements that help users to overcome limitations in modelling urban and extra-urban transport systems.
“I want to understand the different components of transport systems and how they interact with each other and society. These interactions are the key to achieving highly efficient city logistics systems.”
Evaluating three possible solutions within five scenarios
There are three solutions within five different scenarios that we have evaluated. They include include a Real-time online system for better monitoring, a Greener fleet with higher share of Heavy Good Vehicles (HGVs) that are powered by alternative fuels and an ITS adoption for control and traffic management around the commercial port of the city of Volos. We recorded the CO2 emissions, NOx concentrations, PM10 concentration and traffic delays of each of the five scenarios. As a last step, we entered all indicators’ before and after values in EVALOG, a multi-stakeholder multi-criteria platform to produce the final Logistics Sustainability Index LSI to reflect the overall performance of each solution.
PTV Vissim helped us replicate with high precision the traffic network around the port of Volos. Through its great parametrisation, we were able to calibrate the model adequately according to Greek drivers’ behaviour and record analytics data of the vehicular traffic. With the software we customised the power and weight distribution of HGVs, which in combination with external emission models were highly important, especially for the Greener fleet solution. PTV Vissim, through its advanced COM interface, also allowed us to connect it duly with a logistics simulation tool extending the capabilities of the final developed model.
A real-time online system for better monitoring
The results show that applying the Real-time online system is the most efficient solution in our case study, while all solutions combined can bring an impressive 20,92 per cent improvement in the transport network around the city port in 2030. As all solutions are classified as “soft solutions”, they do not require structural interventions at a wide scale. The resulting model overpasses the complexity of high-level architectural systems and diminishes the need for human resources, but at the same time is able to support local long-term planning.
Based on the fact that there is plenty of room for improvements for Volos and similar cities, my colleagues and I are planning to evaluate additional solutions in the study area and to also consider economic and societal indicators for a comprehensive assessment. Due to the expected development of the port in 2030, traffic volumes and pollution will potentially increase and by communicating our findings to the city and the port authorities, we want to contribute to establishing a more efficient and sustainable urban logistics system.