University of Twente Student Theses


A Reference Architecture for Fuel-based Carbon Management Information Systems in the Logistics Industry

Steenwijk, Michel (2011) A Reference Architecture for Fuel-based Carbon Management Information Systems in the Logistics Industry.

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Abstract:The carbon footprint is a measure of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an activity or over the life stages of a product. Logistical service providers have various reasons to attempt to gain insight in the carbon footprint of their transport services. Clients may ask for a report on the emissions caused by a transport order and forthcoming legislation may demand carbon management from the transport industry. Furthermore insight in emissions provides insight in reduction opportunities. In the transport industry, the dominant driver of carbon emissions is fuel combustion. Reducing carbon emissions thus means reducing fuel consumption. This yields financial savings, which is another incentive to adopt carbon management. Carbon footprinting is a relatively new phenomenon. Numerous protocols from various organizations have emerged over the past years, and calculation methods are still under development. The current practice is to calculate transport emissions distance-based, i.e. based on distance travelled, using long-term averages to estimate fuel consumption per kilometre. Fuel consumption may actually vary over time, because of differences in road characteristics, traffic situations, driving behaviour, etc. Therefore distance-based emission calculations are not accurate. Without accurate insight in carbon emissions, it is difficult for LSPs to start with carbon reduction initiatives. Our approach is to calculate transport emissions fuel-based by obtaining the actual fuel consumption during trips via board computers installed in vehicles. Transport services may stretch over multiple, sometimes multimodal, legs. While crossing warehouses, multiple shipments are often consolidated in one freight unit. Altogether calculating transport carbon emissions is a complex task. To automatically gather relevant data and consequently calculate emissions, an information system is necessary. Several Carbon Management Systems have recently emerged on the market. However, the current state of the art of these applications goes little further than corporate carbon footprints for the average company. This thesis presents a reference architecture for fuel-based Carbon Management Information Systems in the logistics industry. The reference architecture integrates the business process and information technology environment of typical logistics service providers. More specifically, integrating Transport Management System and board computers with a Carbon Management System allows for real-time monitoring of fuel consumption during trips. Consequently it enables calculating detailed and accurate product carbon footprints of transport services. Analysis of data on emissions and emission drivers collected over time, may serve as starting point for carbon reduction initiatives. When a transport company achieves reduction of its emissions, this makes a small contribution to reducing global warming. We verify the reference architecture with a prototype that is capable of calculating emissions based on actual fuel consumption by linking incoming board computer XML messages with trip plannings received from a TMS earlier. The calculation method includes an algorithm to allocate emissions to shipments consolidated in one freight unit. A test case validates the correct behaviour of the prototype, proving that our aim of real-time fuel-based carbon footprinting of transport services is feasible.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
CAPE Groep B.V.
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Business Information Technology MSc (60025)
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