Network for Transport Measures


The report “A decision-making support tool – digital emission calculations for intermodal ShortSea” is now available

In April 2020 the Swedish Transport Administration initiated the research project ”A decision-making support tool – digital emission calculations for intermodal ShortSea”. The project was carried out in a collaboration between Maritime Forum and NTM. Results were assessed in a report presented in June 30, 2021 and a concluding seminar during the autumn of 2021 will end the project.

The full report (only in Swedish) is available at Trafikverket Research and development homepage: Read report

Summary in English

Previous tools that support more sustainable transport solutions often fails since they insufficiently understand and consider how the receiving parties are able to grasp and make use of the offered functionalities. One reason is often a lack of a thorough anchoring process at top management level among potential users. Furthermore, previous attempts were  often based on too general data i.e., lacking sufficient valid and reliable output data  for strategic and operative business decisions. For intermodal solutions they also lacked a general analysis on who may be the best part to drive development towards more sustainable transport services through such solutions.

For these reasons it was decided to start this project by interviewing a number of business actors in  order to better understand the business logic regarding intermodal ShortSea. The aim was also to pin point the main target group for coming tools. Identification of a main target group would better clarify requirements and ability to make use of output. Thereby the design needs of an adequate tool that supports more intermodal transport became clearer.

The initial phase was almost exclusively used for in-depth interviews of relevant stakeholders in order to ensure accurate understanding of the need and functionalities for an intermodal transport decision tool.

It should be noted that participants in the reference group have supported the project and responded generously throughout the whole project. This in spite of the on-going severe pandemic situation. These contributions in hard  times also emphasized the importance of this area and project.

In addition to the in-depth interviews two digital workshops were organized  with some 40 participants each, where our preliminary results were commented and valuable feedback was received.

The reference group and interviewees consisted of 26 organisations and in total some 50 persons:

Shippers:            11

Ports:                  5

Shipowners:      3

Hauliers:             1

Forwarders:       3

Rail companies: 3

In addition to these organisations a close dialogue was held with Short Sea Promotion Centre  in Norway on conceptual basis and concrete technical collaboration. One idea was to connect emission calculation services in NTMCalc through an application programming interface, to their ShortSea Schedules. Other fact-finding discussions and dialogues were held with various other relevant business organizations.

During the project the focus of the project gradually shifted in order to apprehend and align with comments and ideas coming from interviews and discussions with the various business actors. The first, much needed change of focus was a shift where the focus on solely ShortSea was abandon. Road and rail transport solutions was added as equally relevant. During the interviews it also became clear that shippers and their supply chain strategies and policies plays a significant role  in the design of logistic chains. Hence the ability to use more intermodal solutions is to a large extent  linked to requirements specified in supply chain strategies and policies where one overall target should be to accomplish sustainable logistics solutions independently of mode of traffic. Therefore, the mandatory specification of intermodal solutions was eliminated since this may delimit optional sustainable solutions.

Finally ,we concluded that sustainable solutions only become solid and lasting if they fit in to the existing business environment and corresponding business logic. From this reason we shifted focus from solely developing a digital decision support tool by adding the need for more thorough processes on how more sustainable logistic solutions can be obtained. In our interviews, it also became clear that solid and durable sustainable logistic solutions can only be obtained if they are followed up and monitored on a continuous basis.


Implementing sustainable logistics is not a time limited project, rather a continuous process that is affected by numerous ever on-going improvements of functions and requirements. Hence, a supporting decision-making tool should ensure sufficient focus on actual logistics development and not become an excuse for not actively engaging in practical logistic improvement including sustainability issues. Everybody involved in logistics in general knows that all details sum up to total performance. Solid logistics requires constant focus on operational, tactical and strategic matters where sustainability must be an integrated part. If there is an instant lack of focus, logistics quickly drifts away and performance deteriorates. Hence, solid performance and development requires …

… consideration of the EU climate agenda in relation to transport and logistics and in addition present effects and needed measures derived from COVID-19. In summary these two issues put immense and new requirements on owners, management and business models. Being passive in these fields without adjusting accordingly will lead to severe commercial losses.

… that process towards sustainable logistic solutions must have its origin from owners and be well understood and endorsed by top management and expressed and transformed into a supply chain strategy with corresponding policies. The supply chain strategy and policies should be developed through a holistic perspective including top management and logistics management. The design of the supply chain strategy and policies should cover company ambitions regarding risks, impact, control, systematic targets and actions towards sustainable logistic solutions.

… that the supply chain strategy influences logistics development through clear objectives where its implementation is supported through internal guidelines and policies.

… that the logistic management team have the responsibility and mandate to implement, follow up and enhance feedback loops on the sustainable supply chain strategy progress. As a consequence, the logistic management team must be equipped with sufficient resources, mandate and have the authority to act accordingly.

… efficient and robust data capturing from all logistics activities delivering valid and reliable data that enables an IT based decision tool for sustainable logistic solutions

… an IT based tool for sustainable logistic solutions that is integrated in other existing shipper´s management systems. Related to a solid tool is a common and healthy mistrust in existing management systems. They normally calculate correct BUT the output may be wrong due to error in data used, or questions wrongly asked or decision rules that by mistake or or purpose give priority to other targets that exclude more sustainable solutions.

… systematic assessment and follow up of agreements with logistic service providers which is a common weakness. Some sea transport solutions even operate without formal agreements. Terms of agreements need enforcement and formalization including mutual sustainability development plans between shipper and service providers.

… that already existing sustainable logistics management systems at some shippers is supported as best practice methodology and used by more shippers. This should also include small and medium sized shippers. These new management systems should be integrated with other existing shippers’ management systems.

… anchoring of real sustainable logistics requirements that forms a linked working process that can be supported by an IT based management tool . The reference group approved on the suggested general processes and supporting tools functionalities suggested by the project.

… establishment of organization and routines for update of IT based management systems including enabling data, from other expert organizations and data bases within all sustainability areas.