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Event tip! Efficient and climate-friendly timber transport in the Austrian flagship project PhysICAL

Austria's climate targets are clearly defined, but to achieve them many of our usual processes need to change significantly. New ways are needed and research plays a crucial role in this.

Sandra Stein

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Project leader Sandra Stein

MBA program Mobility Transformation

1 of 3 images or videos

MBA program Mobility Transformation

MBA program Mobility Transformation

1 of 3 images or videos

MBA program Mobility Transformation

In the Austrian lead project "PhysICAL", researchers are harnessing the technology of the Physical Internet to ensure that goods are no longer simply transported from A to B, but that deliveries are bundled and brought to their destination efficiently and sustainably via a network with a wide variety of nodes. "We will not only calculate on paper that this concept makes sense and is economical, but also prove it and demonstrate it with our partners from the industry," says Sandra Stein, project manager of PhysICAL, Fraunhofer Austria Research GmbH and academic director of the TU Wien Academy for Continuing Education (TUW ACE) Executive MBA program Mobility Tranformation.

To be able to send shipments across multiple nodes, various resources and actors are needed in the network. First, a standardized load carrier is needed, which is intermodal and modular. In addition, you need an intermodal platform where shipments can be linked, coordinated and booked, as well as transportation service providers and shippers who disclose their transportation capacities and make shipments available for bundling. 

Road vs. narrow gauge

Especially in the pilot project "smart wood logistics", all three aspects come into play in an exemplary way. "We want to implement efficient timber transport on the narrow-gauge railroad and try this out in the Murtal/Lungau region with a new container," Stein explains further. This is intended to use the already existing rail infrastructure more economically and to be able to stand up to the prevailing transport by road.

The container itself is planned as a modular and intelligent unit and thus does justice to the Physical Internet character, in that a wide variety of sensors make the container "smart". For example, in addition to GPS or temperature sensors, weighing technology is also installed in order to prevent overloading of the weighbridge. Due to various conditions, such as the given slope, weighing in the forest often proves to be difficult. At the end of the project, two such containers will be ready to transport other wood products in addition to logs. Thanks to modular side sections that can be quickly exchanged, no additional standing times are generated for the train set. The resulting flexibility leads to a reduction in empty runs of up to 15%.

A further requirement is that the container should fit on every type of railroad - both standard gauge and narrow gauge - and can also be transferred to other modes of transport. The bundle is reloaded as a whole, not as individual logs as in the past, which means that crane operations can be reduced by up to 50% and logistics process costs by up to 30%.

In addition, timber farmers will be able to book or disclose timber supply based on daily prices, orders and demand using a specially designed app. 

The event for the project

The "PhysICAL" project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Climate Action as part of the RTI program Mobility of the Future and handled by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG. Read more at:, opens an external URL in a new window 

After 2 years of intensive research work, the interim results will now be presented on May 31, 2022 from 10:00 to 17:00 at the Federal Ministry for Climate Action. In addition to the presentation of the research work, you can expect exciting keynotes and speeches on the future of logistics! More details can be found on the PhysICAL website, opens an external URL in a new window.

EMBA | Mobility Transformation

Dr. Sandra Stein is the academic director of the TU Wien Academy for Continuing Education Executive MBA program Mobility Tranformation.

Technologies and innovations are key factors in shaping our mobile future. In our Executive MBA program, our participants acquire a basic understanding of technology and key business qualifications in order to build up decision-making competence in general management issues against the background of technological developments. In the core of the MBA program, our students deal intensively with mobility technologies and future-oriented mobility infrastructures.

More details on registration and information on upcoming program launches at: