Background

The interconnection of logistics services is motivated by the inefficiency and the unsustainability of our current logistics organization, putting at risk the very core of our lifestyle. Transportation is a major problem with many negative wellknown side effects such as oil dependency, CO2 emissions, congestion, and health-related issues for logistics personnel.

Despite all efforts already undertaken to improve engine technologies, the flows are still growing, resulting in CO2 emissions growing too by 23% from 1990 to 2007. In addition, in 2007 empty travel still accounts for 25% of all freight travel and carrier space usage, even when loaded, is abysmal with only 60% of weight capacity used. One CO2-related solution could come from shifting volume from trucks to trains powered by electricity generated with a low carbon production mode. However, despite all efforts made, inland multimodal market share remains low, yet another symptom of inefficiency and unsustainability.

One approach to tackle this Global Logistics Sustainability Grand Challenge is focused on logistics organization and aims to significantly improve the use of transportation, handling and storage means we need to re-establish the economies of scale that today are diluted by smaller, dedicated networks, as well as Just-in-Time replenishment policies.

The Physical Internet (PI) proposes switching to open pooling, not requiring individual agreements between actors, by embracing an interconnection approach. We use the Physical Internet as our vision of interconnected logistics, an open global logistics system founded on physical, digital and operational interconnectivity through encapsulation, interfaces and protocols (www.physicalinternetinitiative.org).

The Physical Internet Initiative is aiming to exploit the Internet metaphor, proposing the progressive deployment of a new logistics system paradigm for a networked economy.

Relying on the general idea of the Internet to transmit packages of information packets (datagram) through all networks the Physical Internet would not deal with materials, but rather with interlocking modular containers encapsulating objects.

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