The consortium partners have been working on their respective tasks since January, and now the project was officially kicked off. At the Berlin office of consortium leader Schenker Deutschland AG, the future of fleet management in general cargo logistics was initiated: FRAMO GmbH, the manufacturer of an electric cargo truck, software company PTV AG and the two research institutes Fraunhofer IVI and Institute of Post-Fossile Logistics PFL have joined forces to develop the IT-based iHub system for the management of mixed diesel-powered and electric truck fleets for a logistics center.
The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) within the scope of the »IKT für Elektromobilität III« program (ICT for Electromobility III), which means that it is a part of the »Digital Agenda 2014-2017« and additionally supports the research goals outlined in the government’s electromobility program.
Electromobility is a particular challenge for general cargo logistics: in this sector, being fast, reliable and on time is especially important. Because of this, logistics service providers need transport vehicles that are always available without any restrictions. Electric vehicles seem at a disadvantage compared to diesel trucks due to their restrictive recharging needs. Therefore, the integration of electric trucks into the vehicle fleets of logistic service providers requires an intelligent management system that is able to compensate for this disadvantage by using dynamic route planning to assign orders to an electric truck only if the truck can execute them with the same level of reliability as would a diesel truck. Applying this kind of control strategy will be the main task of the iHub system currently in development.
In addition to the technological challenges, the system will ensure that the solution developed will be an economically feasible alternative to conventional truck fleets. For an optimization of the entire vehicle fleet’s economic efficiency, parameters such as »State of Use« – a battery’s level of wear and tear – will be utilized to allow a more regular deployment of the electric vehicles.
The systems developed and tested within the project will help to optimally deploy three electric trucks with a maximum total weight of 18 tons each at the Berlin office of Schenker Deutschland AG.
If the partners succeed in providing an IT-based solution that is able to make use of the systemic advantages of electromobility, such as low noise and greenhouse gas emissions, during practical application in a mixed vehicle fleet, an important development step on the way towards post-fossile, emission-free logistics will have been taken.