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SCTL Center, Urban Freight Lab Launch to Tackle Urban Delivery Congestion

SCTL Center, Urban Freight Lab Launch to Tackle Urban Delivery Congestion
SCTL Center, Urban Freight Lab Launch to Tackle Urban Delivery Congestion
October 15, 2016   //   

October 12, 2016 — The Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Center officially opened today with a Grand Opening event held at the University of Washington campus, and announced the debut of the Urban Freight Lab (UFL), a strategic partnership between the public sector and private industry.

The UFL will serve as a “living laboratory” bringing together a multitude of public and private sector stakeholders: the City of Seattle Department of Transportation—which is putting up $285,000 over the next three years — as well as urban planners, city officials, researchers, truck freight carriers, logistics experts, commercial developers, and retail — to design and test solutions that improve the way goods are delivered to businesses and residences.

SDOT Director Scott Kubly announced his agency’s $285,000, three-year research collaboration with the Urban Freight Lab that may grow over time.

“From the first mile to the last fifty feet, freight delivery is changing,” said Kubly in his remarks. “For big trucks coming out of the Port of Seattle and small trucks delivering to people’s homes and businesses, this joint project will address the rapidly evolving world of freight movement.”

The Lab initially aims to research better ways for e-commerce companies to solve the final 50 feet of the “last mile,” or the last leg of a delivery that typically takes truck drivers through city streets, commercial vehicle load zones, and privately-owned buildings. The “last mile” has become more of a pressing problem for supply chain managers as the e-commerce industry continues to grow and consumers expect their purchased products immediately. Census data that show U.S. online sales taking up 8 percent of total retail sales during Q1 of 2016, and up 15 percent from 2017.

Membership is currently limited to 12 companies from four sectors: retail, urban truck freight carriers, technology companies, and retail and multifamily-residential building developers and operators. Founding members are UPS, Nordstrom, and Costco Wholesale.

“The Urban Freight Lab at the UW SCTL Center is the place for companies working at the dead center of e-commerce in fast growing cities to develop and ground test low-cost, promising solutions to delivering goods. Urban Freight Lab membership benefits include delivery of new data-based knowledge and insights about the effects of several truck freight parking and freight-loading-bay action strategies proposed for implementation in the City of Seattle, before they are applied,” said SCTL Founding Director Anne Goodchild​

“We have more than 300 Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack stores — many in dense urban settings with a range of delivery settings, including common docks and unique situations. We are always interested in ways to better support our stores so we can better serve our customers. The SCTL’s efforts will be beneficial for us to glean some new best practices and actively participate in creating solutions so we can continue to do so,” said Loren VandenBerghe, director of transportation at Nordstrom, a founding member.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with the UW since the inception of the Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Master’s program. They are a well-educated and very focused group. It’s a pleasure to invest in the future of such-high caliber students by forming this strategic partnership with the program,” said John Thelan, Costco’s Senior Vice President, Depot and Traffic.


About the Urban Freight Lab (UFL): An innovative public-private partnership housed at the Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Center at the University of Washington, the Urban Freight Lab is a structured workgroup that brings together private industry with City transportation officials to design and test solutions around urban freight management.

About the Supply Chain Transportation & Logistics Center: The Supply Chain Transportation and Logistics Center at the University of Washington is the go-to place to analyze and solve urban goods delivery, sustainability, logistic hubs and ports, and freight system performance management problems that overlay private and public spaces and control.

In the Media: The debut of the Center and the Urban Freight Lab was covered by news sources including The New York Times (AP), GeekWire, Next CityPuget Sound Business JournalThe Seattle Times (AP), Daily Journal of Commerce, KING 5 Early Morning NewsKOMO News, and UW Today.