The University of Hull’s Logistics Institute is helping one of the world’s biggest food companies improve freight movement of its products across Europe.
The Logistics Institute is a partner in the Liverpool-Humber Optimisation of Freight Transport (LHOFT) project – designed to revolutionise the haulage of Kraft Heinz products from the Netherlands to the company’s National Distribution Centre in Wigan.
With carbon efficiency at the heart of the project, the partnership trialled moving products by rail, via the Humber port complex.
The rail trial proved to be a success, and Kraft Heinz – behind brands such as Capri Sun, Philadelphia and HP Sauce – is now considering whether to build on the findings of the study.
Professor Amar Ramudhin (left), director of the Logistics Institute, said: “The University of Hull is at the forefront of accelerating a net-zero future.
“The collaborative transport modelling and optimisation platform developed by the university’s Logistics Institute is based on academic insight and has played a key role in the LHOFT project, enriching the analysis that is used to visualise, interpret and compare freight movement options.
“This allows objective evaluation of the freight movement options. For example, the Wigan rail route opens up new opportunities for goods owners and service providers to collaborate to develop new, lower-carbon transport routes.”
The Innovate UK-sponsored LHOFT project seeks to develop an intermodal rail freight solution for the haulage of products from Elst (in the Netherlands) to the Kraft Heinz National Distribution Centre at Wigan.
Following consultation with leading UK rail freight operator Freightliner, a subsidiary of Genesee & Wyoming (G&W) and Network Rail, a trial train was arranged to test and evaluate the feasibility of delivering Kraft Heinz products by rail to Wigan.
Operating overnight, the trial was considered a complete success and Kraft Heinz will now be considering whether to build on the findings of the trial going forward.
Emma Dempsey, chief commercial officer for G&W’s UK/Europe Region companies, said: “Freightliner is always at the forefront of developing innovative, bespoke solutions to allow more freight to be moved by rail and all the associated environmental benefits that brings.
“As the largest operator of carbon neutral traction, we are continually developing solutions to deliver decarbonisation targets, working in collaboration with business partners and customers, and we were delighted to be part of the team to trial this potential modal shift to rail.”
The LHOFT project uniquely brings together key stakeholders in the unitised freight industries with the aim of establishing an East-West freight transport corridor in the north of the UK.
This corridor will link Liverpool in the west to the Humber port complex in the east. The ambition is to reduce UK land transport of 100 million miles of freight transport annually, thus lowering congestion and Co2 emissions.
Karla Jakeman, innovation lead connected transport at Innovate UK, said: “This is a very positive development of the project. It is always exciting when projects can demonstrate innovation in practice.
“I am looking forward to watching how this develops in the future.”
Established in 2008, the University of Hull’s Logistics Institute is now a world-renowned centre for research, education and expertise in logistics and supply chain management.
The institute is a leader in applied logistics research and industry outreach programmes, both national and international. Its key focus is to drive sustainable growth through viable logistics.