The International Physical Internet Conference (IPIC) 2024, held from 29 to 31 May at the DeSoto Hotel in Savannah, GA, USA, served as a vibrant platform for discussing the future of logistics and intermodal freight systems. Among the numerous innovative initiatives and projects showcased during the event, was the MultiRELOAD project represented by Fernando Liesa, Secretary General of ALICE.

In particular, the "Plenary Session W-2: Physical Internet Enabled Intermodal Regional Freight System" provided a lot of insights relevant for the MultiRELOAD project. It was focused on innovative logistics solutions, automation, and digital integration to improve multimodal transport efficiency, reduce costs and promote sustainability. The session's exploration of interconnected freight systems mirrored MultiRELOAD’s goals of improving operational efficiency, facilitating a modal shift, and developing advanced business models for a sustainable logistics future.

Key takeaways for the MultiRELOAD project from IPIC 2024:

  • Advances in the Physical Internet: Sessions highlighted the critical role of digitalisation and automation in improving multimodal freight efficiency, reflecting MultiRELOAD’s goal of a 20% increase in handling capacity.
  • Focus on sustainability: Emphasis on carbon-neutral and zero-emission logistics resonated with MultiRELOAD’s commitment to facilitating a 5% shift from road to rail and inland waterways.
  • Innovative business models: Discussions on new business strategies for reducing freight transport costs by 10% aligned closely with MultiRELOAD’s objectives.
  • Collaborative ecosystems: The importance of collaboration between ports, technology providers, and research institutions was underscored.

Throughout IPIC 2024, the MultiRELOAD project featured in discussions and was heavily promoted during the networking sessions. These sessions provided a perfect opportunity for Fernando Liesa to engage with key stakeholders, discuss the project's progress and objectives, and explore potential collaborations.

One of the outcomes of these discussions was a possible future development of the MultiRELOAD demonstrator CBoXX powered by CargoBeamer. The CBoXX could be integrated with autonomous rail wagons, such as those presented by Parallel Systems, which are designed to couple and decouple for the last mile secondary-tertiary rail networks. This integration can streamline operations, allowing wagons to move autonomously to main terminals where they can be consolidated into regular train locomotives for the main transport leg. Conference participants showed keen interest in MultiRELOAD's innovative approach to tackling the challenges of modern logistics. The project's alignment with European decarbonisation strategies and its potential to improve the efficiency and sustainability of freight transport were particularly well received.