The NRP 41 was launched by the Federal Council at the end of 1995 to improve the scientific basis on which Switzerland's traffic problems might be solved, taking into account the growing interconnection with Europe, ecological limits, and economic and social needs.
The NRP 41 aimed to become a think-tank for sustainable transport policy.
Each one of the 54 projects belongs to one of the following six modules:
- A Mobility: Socio-institutional Aspects;
- B Mobility: Socio-economical Aspects;
- C Environment: Tools and Models for Impact Assessments;
- D Political and Economic Strategies and Prerequisites;
- E Traffic Management: Potentials and Impacts;
- F Technologies: Potentials and Impacts;
- M Materials;
- S Synthesis Projects.
The project deals with the interaction between altered competition and logistics strategies of companies as well as their goods traffic volume and transport performance. The focus is on corporate decisions related to Logistics and Transport that are heavily influenced by structural changes in the economy and society.
The research is conducted on a regional level of the Zug Agglomeration. A mix of methods consisting of written and oral surveying, case studies and workshops is applied, as befits the challenges of this complex topic.
At the beginning of the project, based on discussions with experts and consultation of relevant literature, the following four central hypotheses were set out:
- There exist tendencies in the modification of division of labour and in the integration of the value creation chain that raise the potential of the goods traffic volume.
- Tendencies in business strategy can also be established that increase goods traffic volume as well as ones that counteract an increase in goods traffic volume.
- Effects on goods traffic volume are rarely taken into consideration when business strategy decisions are being made. The focus is on a decrease in transportation costs, packaging costs and storage costs.
- Cooperative efforts in goods transport a) among businesses and b) between businesses and public entities are increasing. Their influence on business strategy decisions within logistics will become stronger in the future.
As customers aim towards greater flexibility, rail freight is facing a difficult time.
Regional co-operation in transport logistics between companies is underemployed according to a study of the National Research Programme 'Transport and Environment' in the region of Zug.
In recent years, businesses have significantly changed their strategies along principles such as 'lean management', 'just-in-time', and new distribution concepts.
For this reason, a project of the National Research Programme 'Transport and the Environment' surveyed around 80 businesses within the region of Zug and analysed four case studies in detail.
Businesses increasingly favour road transport over rail freight for deliveries and distribution in order to be more flexible.
Consideration of advantages or disadvantages for the environment hardly enters into the equation.
Businesses, irrespective of their size or industry sector, and especially those facing strong competition, are developing increasingly complex logistical concepts.
The authors consider this to be an opportunity for improved regional co-operation between businesses, and for more efficient distribution concepts with increased support from the Cantons.
The framework for rail freight and combined transport (rail/road) also needs to be improved in order to avoid negative effects on the environment arising from the new corporate strategies.
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The results of the study clearly show that a multitude of both external and internal factors influence companies' behaviour.
As external influences of company behaviour we can cite the conditional factors of transport cost. The study lets us draw the conclusion that transport costs or rather energy prices are too low to play a role in companies'calculations.
The use of environmental or natural resources does not produce sufficient price signals, for which reasons it is ignored or neglected by management.
For the majority of businesses, the conscious planning of goods transport is not a pressing topic.
But the discussions with experts as well as the survey answers show that each firm acts in a specific manner based on a change in environment. Traffic decisions are frequently made on the operations level.
A clear typology – as new business strategies demonstrate – is not recognisable. Consequently it is not possible to determine a 'typology of goods transport burden' that could then be used in a general form for state planning or implemented in business planning.
However, it is possible to observe a grouping of businesses that