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Estimating Truck Trips with Product Specific Data: A Disruption Case Study in Washington Potatoes

Publication: Transportation Letters: The International Journal of Transportation Research
Volume: 4 (3)
Publication Date: 2013

Currently, knowledge of actual freight flows in the US is insufficient at a level of geographic resolution that permits corridor-level freight transportation analysis and planning. Commodity specific origins, destinations, and routes are typically estimated from four-step models or commodity flow models. At a sub-regional level, both of these families of models are built on important assumptions driven by the limited availability of data. This study was motivated by a desire to determine whether efforts to gather corridor-level freight movement data will bring significant new insights over current approaches to freight transportation modeling. Through a case study of Washington State’s potato and value added potato products industry, we show that significant insight can be gained by collecting commodity-specific truck trip generation and destination data: the approach allows product specific truck trips to be estimated for each roadway link. When considering a network change, the number of affected trips can be identified, and their re-route distance quantified.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Derik Andreoli, Eric Jessup
Recommended Citation:
Derik Andreoli, Anne Goodchild & Eric Jessup (2012) Estimating truck trips with product specific data: a disruption case study in Washington potatoes, Transportation Letters, 4:3, 153-166,
Technical Report

The Final 50 Feet of the Urban Goods Delivery System: Pilot Test of an Innovative Improvement Strategy

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Publication: Pacific Northwest Transportation Consortium (PacTrans)
Publication Date: 2019

This report presents a pilot test of a common carrier smart locker system — a promising strategy to reduce truck trip and failed first delivery attempts in urban buildings. The Urban Freight Lab tested this system in the 62-story Seattle Municipal Tower skyscraper in downtown Seattle.

The Urban Freight Lab identified two promising strategies for the pilot test: (1) Locker system: smaller- to medium-sized deliveries can be placed into a locker that was temporarily installed during the pilot test; and (2) Grouped-tenant-floor-drop-off-points for medium-sized items if the locker was too small or full (4-6 floor groups set up by Seattle Department of Transportation and Seattle City Light).

Users picked up their goods at the designated drop-off points. Flyers with information on drop-off-points were given to the carriers. UFL researchers evaluated the ability of the standardized second step pilot test to reduce the number of failed first delivery attempts by (1) Collecting original data to document the number of failed first delivery attempts before and after the pilot test; and (2) Comparing them to the pilot test goals.

Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, A., Kim, H., & Ivanov, B. Final 50 Feet of the Urban Goods Delivery System: Pilot Test of an Innovative Improvement Strategy. (2019)
Technical Report

Food Distribution Supply Chain Data Collection: Supply Chain Firm Interviews and Truck Counts

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Publication: WSDOT Research Report: Food Distribution Supply Chain Data Collection: Supply Chain Firm Interviews and Truck Counts
Publication Date: 2016

This report summarizes the work completed under the SHRP2 (Strategic Highway Research Program 2) Local Freight Data program. Supply chain firm interviews and truck counts were conducted to better understand the Food Distribution System in the Puget Sound. Interviews explored key business challenges, operations, and potential responses to natural gas incentives. Truck counts were conducted at grocery stores, and observations included truck type, time of day, stop duration, and parking behavior. The report includes a description of truck activity at grocery stores, and a summary of industry responses to natural gas incentives. The research contributes to the design of future freight data collection, and the development of policy responsive freight models.

Washington state’s robust food distribution industry must transport goods from farms to processing plants, to warehouses, and finally to stores for consumption. Although this freight system helps sustain economic growth in the state, it also has significant impacts on traffic congestion and carbon emissions.

Under  the SHRP2 Local Freight Data program for the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), researchers looked at urban, suburban, and rural locations, as well as grocery stores, food distributors, and food processors to shed light on the state’s food distribution system and its transportation, logistics, and fleet characteristics, as well as the industry’s experience and expectations with natural gas vehicles and natural gas policies and programs.

Interviews and truck counts revealed that large grocery store firms use larger trucks, travel longer distances, and travel more highway miles than local street miles. Large food distributors travel a larger variety of routes, with a more diverse truck fleet. In contrast, smaller food distributors use smaller trucks, travel shorter routes, and travel mostly in urban areas, with less highway driving.

Smaller firms with smaller trucks deliver goods through the front door of the store and use the customer parking lot. Larger firms, with larger trucks, unload goods through the loading dock in the back of the store. Smaller, local firms also make more frequent deliveries, delivering goods every weekday, whereas large firms make deliveries three to four times per week.

For urban stores, there is often a lack of a dedicated store parking lot. These urban stores often have covered garages, with loading docks inside the garage. Many drivers, particularly from smaller firms and those with smaller trucks, still prefer to use the front door for deliveries. However, they have to park their trucks in a parallel spot, left turn lane, or the travel lane. Deliveries at urban stores occur earlier in the morning than at suburban and rural stores in order to avoid traffic on urban streets.

The researchers  found that three of the five large food distributors had implemented a natural gas pilot program, while none of the smaller food distributors (fleets of fewer than 40 trucks) had implemented or considered natural gas truck engines. The companies that had begun a natural gas pilot program reported that the trucks lacked power and range, lack of a refueling infrastructure posed problems, and the trucks were costly.

Small food distribution firms place importance on reducing fuel use and emissions. However, they do not have the resources to procure natural gas technology. Unfortunately, the government grant and tax credit process is cumbersome to navigate for smaller enterprises. These issues, together with the lack of refueling stations, means that alternative fuel vehicles are not currently a viable option for smaller firms. However, these smaller firms operate trucks and service routes that would be most conducive to reducing fuel use and emissions if they switched to natural gas trucks, without any detriment to performance. Therefore, policy makers should take care in devising new alternative fuel incentives so that they reach smaller firms that have been left out of the alternative fuel marketplace.

Authors: Dr. Anne Goodchild, Luka Ukrainczyk
Recommended Citation:
Goodchild, Anne V., and Luka Ukrainczyk. Food Distribution Supply Chain Data Collection: Supply Chain Firm Interviews and Truck Counts. No. WA-RD 850.1. Washington (State). Dept. of Transportation. Office of Research and Library Services, 2016.