PhysICAL – consortium leader Fraunhofer

The lead project PhysICAL (Physical Internet through Cooperative Austrian Logistics) is testing the basis for a comprehensive implementation of the logistics approach Physical Internet in Austria – to protect the climate and for more efficient transport logistics.

The 17 project partners will develop possible applications in four different industries between 2020 and 2024.


The growing number of goods transports around the world and their handling in a mostly resource-intensive way poses ever-increasing challenges for the environment and society. These must be dealt with quickly and intelligently. One possibility for this is cooperative logistics and, subsequently, the physical internet. This is currently probably the most ambitious concept for efficiency and sustainability in transport logistics. It stands for a profound reorganization of freight transport and logistics.

The 17 partners in the lead project “PhysICAL” – Physical Internet through Cooperative Austrian Logistics – now want to lay the foundations necessary for Austria to implement the physical Internet across the board. Among other things, applications are being developed in four different industries. This demonstrates that the Physical Internet brings an economic advantage to the Austrian transport industry and, at the same time, an ecological and socio-economic benefit to society.

The project is funded by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Protection as part of the RTI program Mobility of the Future.

I am delighted that 17 partners from the transport industry and logistics have come together here to test the Physical Internet in practice on four specific pilots over the next four years. The physical internet promises not only to improve the efficiency in logistics by up to 30%, but also to reduce congestion, emissions and energy consumption by at least 30% at the same time. That is why we have high expectations here in terms of insights into shaping sustainable mobility of goods.

Leonore Gewessler, Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology

While today goods are transported over long distances by individual transport service providers, in the future there will be fragmented transports that are independent of providers and modes of transport. For example, intelligent containers will automatically find the most efficient route through transport networks.

Just as an e-mail automatically makes its way through the Internet from the sender to the recipient via several intermediate stations, in the future goods will make their way independently through transport networks. Depending on their needs, they will make use of road, rail and waterways, but also different storage locations and always choose the most efficient route to the recipient ”.

Project manager Sandra Stein, consortium leader Fraunhofer Austria

Before it can be used across the board, however, development work is necessary, such as the creation of open information systems such as platforms or the further development of intelligent transport units. Another important basis is a cooperative approach by all stakeholders, which must lead to a complete rethink on the part of all those involved. Exactly these steps are planned by the partners in the lead project PhysICAL for the next four years.

  • Transport containers used cooperatively are developed for the timber industry, for example. These are to be used in the Murtal and Lungau regions, where smart wood logistics will enable around 30,000 of the currently 100,000 tonnes of transport volume to be shifted from road to rail.
  • An intelligent container for parcel shipments is also the focus of the pilot project in Graz. Instead of a large number of parcel service providers, a neutral fleet of parcels in intelligent boxes is to be delivered to central locations in the future in order to reduce traffic in inner-city areas and improve the quality of life.

Digital platforms, on the other hand, are the focus of the other two pilot projects

  • The first real trading company in the virtual world will enable manufacturing SMEs to participate in eCommerce. By jointly handling storage, transport and IT solutions, successful sales via eCommerce are independent of company size.
  • The fourth pilot envisages the development of an open transport management platform. This should simplify the booking of an intermodal transport so much that it can be carried out with just a few clicks.

The “PhysICAL” project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection within the framework of the FTI program Mobility of the Future and handled by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG. Project partners are

  • AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
  • Prime Mobility& Consulting GmbH
  • doppler E. Doppler & Co GmbH
  • 4PL Intermodal GmbH
  • SchrackTechnik GmbH
  • Steiermarkbahn Transport und Logistik GmbH
  • Wiener Lokalbahn Cargo GmbH
  • A1 digital International GmbH
  • bitsfabrik GmbH
  • Cargo-Center-Graz Betriebsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG
  • niceshops GmbH
  • Pro Danube Management GmbH
  • Project-S Global.Web.Shop GmbH & Co KG
  • Technische Universität Graz
  • Variocube GmbH
  • StranzingerLogistik Service GmbH
  • Fraunhofer Austria Research

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Questions and answers on research and development

The bases of the calculation are subject to the scientific criteria. Here, DIN 16258: 2011 is a guideline for calculation and evaluation.

Yes, IMSLOT is being used productively by a steadily growing number of very well-known representatives of the intermodal transport industry. Due to the complex tasks in the transport sector, we grow consciously step by step and always with our partners and clients. In addition, IMSLOT modules are also used in research projects.

As a start-up, we at 4PL Intermodal can experimentally apply and test new ideas and technical prototypes. In addition to the necessary know-how, we and our team are also interested in continuous further development. We create all the prerequisites for this. In this way the greatest possible success of the tasks in the projects is conceptually given and has also been achieved to date.

In addition, with its platform economy and technical support, 4PL Intermodal has the necessary resources to provide the research institutions with ideal conditions.

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