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Urban Freight Consolidation Centers: Case Study in the UK Retail Sector

Journal article
Authors Maria Triantafyllou
Cherrett Tom
Michael Browne
Published in Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board
Volume 2411
Issue 1
Pages 34-44
ISSN 0361-1981
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Business Administration, Industrial and Financial Management & Logistics
Pages 34-44
Language en
Subject categories Business Administration


In recent years, traditional urban distribution systems have undergone major structural changes as a result of the increasing power of customers demanding greater variety of quality products at low cost. These customer demands have increased the competition between businesses, and at the same time more complicated and longer supply chains have emerged as a result of the globalization of many businesses in their search for low-cost production locations and access to new skills. In response, hub-and-spoke systems are increasingly used to deal with product flows from many origins and to many destinations. As a result, a growing number of studies have examined the establishment of various forms of intermodal transshipment centers to minimize the use of roads in city centers and support the frequent and rapid replenishment of goods at retail and catering outlets. This study examined the establishment of a consolidation center servicing nearly 100 businesses that operated in an urban shopping mall in Southampton, United Kingdom. Through the review of numerous existing UK and international consolidation schemes and the examination of their operational characteristics, the study aimed to identify potential strengths, weaknesses, and risks that would impact the operation of the consolidation center. Various operational scenarios considering business take-up combinations, vehicle delivery mixes, fill rates, and back-load practices were examined to elucidate the potential transport and environmental effects of the consolidation scheme. To quantify and to verify these effects accurately, a multistage analysis framework, including data collection, map routing, emissions assessment, and scenario-building activities, was developed.

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