AVATAR - focus:on – Last mile on the water (AVATAR Conference 4 May 2022) (2)

09 May 2022 - Published by Tom Pauwels
The potential of revitalizing urban canals and waterways for city freight distribution is nowadays being tested and piloted in many regions of Europe. The Logistics Initiative Hamburg and the EU Interreg project AVATAR invited experts and interested stakeholders to discuss those potentials in Hamburg on 4 May 2022.

On 4 May 2022 the AVATAR Conference “focus:on – Last mile on the water”, hosted by Logistics Initiative Hamburg, took place. The participating stakeholders from logistics and port companies, industry, research and consulting institutions as well as authorities informed themselves about the current developments of the European Interreg North Sea project AVATAR and discussed possible application potentials.

In addition, Julius Küchle, researcher at the Fraunhofer Center for Maritime Logistics (CML), presented the results of the recently completed feasibility study "Water Cargo Barge". The Fraunhofer CML on behalf of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg conducted it in close cooperation with the Logistics Initiative Hamburg and the AVATAR project. The study certifies the basic technical feasibility of such a solution and shows its traffic relief effect. In all the scenarios examined, it was also possible to demonstrate the potential for emissions savings.

 Urban shipping on the last mile represents an important future market within inland navigation at European level. This was underlined by Athanasia Zarkou, economist of the Central Commission for Navigation on the Rhine (CCNR), who presented the latest thematic report of the European Commission and the CCNR on the assessment of new market opportunities for inland waterway transport at the conference. According to the report, urban transport represents two of the four most important future markets for inland navigation: In addition to urban freight transport, these are the potentials offered by waterborne local transport services, which already exist in Hamburg on the Elbe. Furthermore, new freight flows stimulated by strategies of the circular economy (e.g. waste transports) as well as transports of renewable energies or components for their production (biomass, biofuel, hydrogen, wind power plants) are identified as particularly promising.

 As part of the conference, the Logistics Initiative Hamburg, together with Belgian partners, presented the current plans for the piloting of use cases in this area in Hamburg. For example, the EU follow-up project "DECARBOMILE" will start in September 2022, in which the possible applications of the water-bound last mile in parcel delivery will be piloted together with Deutsche Post DHL. Thomas Brauner, Project Manager Innovation at the Logistics Initiative Hamburg: "Together with the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, the Technical University of Hamburg and Deutsche Post DHL, we have succeeded in attracting EU funding totalling € 1.47 million to Hamburg as part of a European consortium of 31 partners. The project enables us to test the potential of this transport solution in a realistic test operation. Through the participation of users, municipal stakeholders, research and us as a cluster organisation, we have assembled a powerful and interdisciplinary team to achieve the best possible results here." The special feature of this use case is that the ship intended for deployment, which is being built as part of the AVATAR project, will function both as a transport unit and as a floating, mobile micro hub.


The feasibility study "Water Cargo Barge" by Fraunhofer CML on behalf of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg is available for download here.

The thematic report "Assessment of new market opportunities for inland waterway transport" of the European Commission and the CCNR is available for download here.


More info see also AVATAR Linkedin and this link.

Presentations are available here.