We are building a data space for the Flemish logistics sector, with the aim of encouraging multimodal transportation.

Its position as Europe's logistics hub provides Flanders with much added value. But it won’t be able to hold onto its position much longer if our roads continue to become more and more congested.

Nevertheless, there are alternatives to road transportation. How can we make the most out of these alternatives? How can technology help us make the logistics chain more sustainable? This is what we will be investigating through SYTADEL. Our focus lies on sharing logistics data in an efficient and privacy-friendly way.

Logistics hub: a difficult balancing act

Did you know that the Port of Antwerp-Bruges is Europe’s most important export port? No fewer than 147 million tons of goods pass through here every year. This port, the North Sea Port and Brussels Airport are the hubs that guarantee our logistics infrastructure. Take our location at the heart of the European highway network into account, and it is no surprise that Flanders is the continent's logistics center.

We all reap the rewards of this. Just think of the hundreds of thousands of people who earn a living in the logistics sector. But, we all bear the costs too:

  • Congestion of our road network
  • Negative impact on air quality
  • Sensitivity to rising energy costs

It's no wonder there's a lot of interest in initiatives focused on improving the balance between economic added value and social sustainability, including - actually, most of all - from within the logistics sector itself.

Sustainable transportation planning based on shared data

Companies are certainly not immune to the increasing demand for sustainable logistics, and yet they almost automatically turn to road transportation when planning their supply chain. Trains and inland waterways are disregarded, because they require much more organization - and besides: there’s fear of the unknown.

Fortunately, technology that will allow companies to plan their transportation more consciously and sustainably – without compromising on efficiency – is gradually becoming more available. The trick is to break through the silos of various transportation systems and combine their data into one high-quality planning system. That is the aim of SYTADEL.

This kind of system is also known as synchromodal planning: planning that considers the various possible modes of transportation for the intended route. This makes it easy to schedule transportation based on specific parameters such as delivery time, transportation costs and, of course, sustainability.

SYTADEL aims to achieve three things:

  1. Get an efficient planning system up and running for various players in the logistics chain
  2. Prevent empty runs and lost transportation time
  3. Cut harmful emissions

Of course we can only achieve this by bringing different actors in the logistics sector together. Therefore, our first challenge is attracting the right partners, who are prepared to share their data with each another in a reliable and privacy-friendly way.

These data sets will differ significantly from one another in terms of origin, type and quality. So, we will want to make sure that data is interchangeable, without needing to change data ownership and without that data ending up in a centralized data platform.

Logistic data spaces

To facilitate this kind of decentralized data exchange, imec is working on data spaces – architecture though which data from various sources flows without the need to change data ownership.

Read more about data spaces here

So, at first, SYTADEL focuses on the development of a logistics data space: a place where data can be shared and consulted with mutual consent to make transportation planning more efficient, flexible and sustainable.

In practical terms, this will happen through detailed development of one or more use cases. The project partners are currently considering which cases will be selected.

Imec’s role within SYTADEL

As a strategic research center, imec is committed to address complex social challenges. Often, these are challenges that companies, governments and researchers can’t tackle on their own. The SYTADEL project is a great example of this.

We are using our expertise in the field of innovative technology and data spaces to ensure that players in the logistics chain can make conscious choices. All partners will be able to benefit from the knowledge gained through the SYTADEL project. This includes:

  • Improving their own business processes.
  • Stimulating new initiatives for innovation.
  • Helping logistics parties work together more efficiently, consciously and flexibly.

Between 2022 and 2025, imec is responsible within SYTADEL for:

  • the development of the logistics data space and the synchromodal planning algorithm
  • the integration of the planning algorithm into the data space
  • the start-up of living lab optimizations for the planned evaluation phases
  • the scalability of logistics data spaces in Flanders
  • knowledge-sharing and valorization of the project
  • project management

Practical information and contact

SYTADEL is a cSBO project. This cooperation between imec, the University of Antwerp, Vlerick and VIL began in April 2022 and ends in April 2025.

This project has a total of 18 participants: ArcelorMittal Belgium, De Vlaamse Waterweg, Digitaal Vlaanderen, ECS, Hakka, imec, Lineas, Mobito, Nike Logistics Europe, OECO - part of Cronos Group, POM West-Vlaanderen, Port+, Procter & Gamble Services Company, SHIPIT Multimodal Logistics, University of Antwerp, Urban Waterway Logistics, Vlerick Business School and Wienerberger.

To find out more, please contact Joris Finck.

Take a look at the other logistics projects imec is contributing to in Flanders: