Research: 2016-2019


A self-organizing container sector provides a better joint product: higher reliability, time saving and cost reduction.


The logistics in the container transport sector are complex. Many parties with different transport modalities operate simultaneously, transporting containers over water, road and rail.

Organization and cooperation are crucial for the Rotterdam  port to be competitive. Research has started on how that self-organization in container transport can be facilitated and strengthened. Central to this project are the links between technological and social innovations. This involves looking at new sensor and interaction technologies and incentives for self-organization. The research is twofold, with both technical and organizational support being taken into account.

Technical: In the transport network, choices are constantly made with regard to routing.

  • Which variables are important in making the choices? And which key information is needed at what time by whom in the decision-making process?
  • How can you facilitate the sharing of this information (data) within the network? Is standardization a solution?
    Information standards in the logistics processes provide clarity: it allows one to make decisions and reach agreements with each other based on the same uniform information. This makes the processes more efficient and it benefits mutual trust. An example of information that could be standardized is information about where transport capacity is available in the network.

Organizational: How can parties collaborate better within the sector and thus improve the joint product?

  • What hinders collaboration? And which measures can, in the network of parties, strengthen mutual trust?
  • Which measures can contribute to a level playing field for the different transport modalities?

In order to create awareness and insights with the parties, serious games are used. Gaming can help parties recognize innovations and introduce them. In addition, gaming can help to see what the implications are of measures that aim for stronger trust.


  • A container transport sector with better self-organization is stronger and provides a better joint product.
  • Processes are efficient, there is clarity and mutual trust.
  • Better choices between the modalities improve the reliability of container transport. And through better utilization of the modalities, cost reduction can be realized.
  • Better insight into how parties in the chain make choices and what is needed to improve trust, offers opportunities to improve individual performance and strengthen relationships.

Business opportunities

  • Better self-organization of and mutual cooperation in the network ensures time saving in the organization of transports.
  • Intelligent choices in the use of modalities result in lower costs and time savings in the transport itself.
  • The quality of the service as a whole is increasing.
  • The collaboration within the network is pleasant and cooperative.


TU Delft, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Wageningen University, TNO, Ecorys, Port of Rotterdam Authority, NWO

This project is part of the Smart Logistics roadmap. For more information about this project or this roadmap, please contact project developer Anique Kuijpers.