Business Tour Dispuut Transportkunde Pandora – SEW Eurodrive

On one of our final days in China, we visited SEW Eurodrive in Suzhou (a city 100km west of Shanghai). SEW Eurodrive is a manufacturer of motors, gearboxes and electrical components. At the Suzhou mainly gearboxes are assembled, around 300.000 each year. These gearboxes are connected to their motor and shipped to the customer. These customers are all located in the eastern part of China. In 2002, SEW Eurodrive started in Suzhou with a service and maintenance location. Continue reading

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Business Tour Dispuut Transportkunde Pandora – Philips

The second Thursday of the tour started quite early when compared to the, still intensive, cultural program of Beijing. Today the group was headed towards PETEC: Philips Electronics TEChnology, a production plant part of the Royal Dutch Philips company.

We were welcomed at the official plant entrance, where we had an nice introduction by the plant manager Gerton Arts. Philips already has a long-term commitment to China, which is its second largest market globally, being active in the country since the 1920’s and currently employing over 17,500 employees. Philips Lighting Malu produces High Intensity Discharge lamps (HID), Special Lighting (SL) and Digital Project Lamps (DPL) and they ship these globally. Continue reading

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Business Tour Dispuut Transportkunde Pandora – ZPMC

ZPMC stands for Zhenhua Port Machinery Company which is the old name for Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Company. This Chinese company produces port machinery for example quay cranes, container spreader and other large steel structures used in ports all around the world. The state-owned enterprise is the subsidiary company of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) and was founded in 1992.

An eight kilometer long tunnel connects the Changxing Island with the mainland of China. ZPMC is located on the south side of this third biggest island of Shanghai at the Yangtze River. With an area bigger than 2.500.000 m2, it is one of the largest production facilities of ZMPC and the biggest heavy equipment manufacturing base in the world.

With a world market share over 70%, ZPMC is by far the biggest supplier of quay cranes. But also ZPMC must pay attention on their production processes. Since wages have been increasing in China during the last couple of years, a reduction in the number of employees has taken place. The base on Changxing Island knows a reduction from 23.000 employees to ‘only’ 13.000 employees. The capacity of the plant however has been the same despite this reduction in workers.

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Business Tour Dispuut Transportkunde Pandora – APM Terminals & Engineering Services

Company: APM Terminals Crane & Engineering Services

The first visit of the Business Tour was a day-visit, with in the morning a visit to the office of APM Terminals Crane & Engineering Services (CES) and afterwards a visit to the Shanghai East Container Terminal, operated by APM Terminals in corporation with the Shanghai International Port Group Company (SIPG).blog 1 APM

After a cup of coffee and a pleasant welcome by the full staff of CES, an interesting presentation about the company was given to us by Managing Director Halfdan Ross. CES is a third party company that provides independent consulting services for crane engineering, quality assurance, commissioning and procurement project management.

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Logistics at work! ICCL’15 – International Conference on Computational Logistics in Delft

After a year of planning, months of collecting emails, reading abstracts, drafting and reviewing papers, the 6th International Conference on Computational Logistics (supported by the Transport Institute) was finally held in Delft, September 22-26. More details at


That was the sixth of its kind, and marked still an increase in amount of participants ( in the number of 100) and scientific contributions – about 60 papers, as well as a wonderfully thick book of proceedings which is also available online here:

Rudy Negenborn, Stefan Voss and myself shared many efforts in making this work!

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Is my delayed train really going to be delayed?

Report from a best paper award winner with the paper “Stochastic prediction of train delays in real-time using Bayesian networks” by Pavle Kecman; Francesco Corman; Anders Peterson; Martin Joborn (TUDelft + Linkoping University, Sweden) at the Conference on Advanced systems for public transport, CASPT2015 conference in Rotterdam.shorterPavle Kecman with Hong Lo, Convenor and Leo Kroon, Chair, of CASPT 2015

Another title of this post might be: should I still trust forecasts? We focus on the problem of predicting train traffic. Normally this is done offline by looking at a fixed minimum travel time between stations (that’s what the NS do in their plan), which is added to the actual delay. A step better is to use historical data and assume that the forecast is based on similar performance of the same system of the past. This is somehow well established in the scientific literature, and a bit less in practice. NS started trying out this idea only recently. What nobody managed to do yet is to combine the actual delay information with the uncertainty relations that can be harvested from past recorded data: that’s what we do in this paper.

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Transport of water versus Transport over water

A comprehensive book over transport of water and transport over water has just been published by Springer, with the support of the TUDelft Transport Institute, and contributions from many scientists and researchers from different backgrounds within the Transport Institute and international institutions.
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Up to a Challenge?

Have you ever thought that transportation problems are useless? In reality, real world has so many interesting problems, which can be solved by the techniques studied and developed within the Transport Institute! There are many open challenges, for which developing a solution not only will boost your career but might also give some nice reward! And it can also be a lot of fun, especially if you’re competing with other teams worldwide.

One of such challenge has just been released by Informs, the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, and more precisely its Railway Application Section.  It is about railway track analytics, forecasting when measured defects on a railway line might need repair to keep a safe circulation of trains. The competing team that is able to predict at best the degradation, wins 2000 $!

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Transit-Oriented Development: does easy access to the railway station increase train use?

Author: Kees Maat and Christa Hubers
Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment
Delft University of Technology

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) is the strategy to urbanise around railway stations in order to increase train ridership. However, the success highly depends on the behaviour of ordinary people. Are they willing to move to TOD environments and to travel by public transport rather than private cars? This question was addressed with funding of The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research NWO.

The TOD approach is an increasingly popular way to integrate land use and transport planning, both here in Europe and in North America, where the word ‘TOD’ was coined. In contrast to many American cities, the focus in the Dutch Randstad region is not just on developing individual compact nodes, but on the development of a whole network of well-connected nodes. Timetableless service, that is increasing the frequency of the trains up to the point where the traveller never has to wait for more than 10 minutes for a train to arrive, is expected to make train travel more attractive (Programma Hoogfrequent Spoor).

Yet, such improved rail services ask for sufficient demand. This implies that enough people will have to live, work or visit destinations near train stations. Here TOD comes in, by further increasing the residential and employment densities around train stations, and by improving their accessibility. This is promoted by the so-called Stedenbaan programme, a collaboration of governments, NS and ProRail.


Figure 1. Randstadrail Beatrixkwartier The Hague (source Stedenbaan)

The strategy is to construct 60 to 80% of all new dwellings in the catchment area of the public transport network of the Randstad Southwing. It goes without saying that the economic crisis has hampered the implementation of this strategy, as many plans for residential developments have been put on hold. Nevertheless, the shortage of homes in this part of the Netherlands implies that now the economy is about to start to grow again, so too will the demand for new residential developments.

There is one important issue, that often seems overlooked. The success highly depends on the behaviour of ordinary people: consumers who not only have to be willing to reside in a TOD environment, but also must choose to travel by public transport rather than private cars. The one (living close to a railway station) may not automatically imply the other (traveling by train). Moreover, with the market for residential housing shifting from being a supply-led market to a demand-led market, it is becoming increasingly relevant to know if consumers are willing to move.

So, we investigated to what extent people living in TOD environments are actually making more use of public transport than people living in non-TOD environments. And under which circumstances people are willing to relocate to a TOD environment in order to make (more) use of public transport. For this, we collected survey data amongst train and car commuters living and/or working in the Randstad Southwing.

And yes, we found the built environment to be related to train use for commuting purposes: shorter distances to transit stops, higher transit frequencies and parking costs were all found to increase the likelihood of commuting by train. In line with previous studies, these relations however were mainly found for the employment location rather than the residential location.

And yes, the competitiveness of the train compared to the car in terms of travel time was also positively associated with train use. Hence, as higher train frequencies are likely to shorten the travel times by train, thereby increasing their competitiveness relative to the car, this could be expected to result in increased train use. These outcomes underline the importance of looking at the connectedness of the whole network, rather than the built environment surrounding the residential location.

But now comes the million-dollar question: what is the willingness to move to the railway station for easier access to the train? This willingness was found to be greater amongst existing train commuters (which is logical) than amongst the potentials, the car commuters. In other words: the majority of people do not have a preference for living close to public transport. So, policymakers interested in creating dwellings close to railway stations to increase ridership levels, should therefore be careful not to overestimate its potential. Instead of generating new passengers, it might mainly result in the relocation of already existing passengers. Rather than waiting for this demand to develop, the most effective way is to actively encourage project developers to create dwellings at these locations.

To add to this, the distance to stops was not found to be related to train use. This addresses a question which is at the heart of research on the role of the built environment, namely how do you define ‘close’ or ‘proximity’? These concepts are highly context dependent and personal. In the Netherlands, rail catchment areas of TOD are usually larger than in North America due to the use of the bicycle as an access, and sometimes egress mode. The next question is: how close, then, is close?

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Best-Worst Multi-Criteria Decision-Making Method

Author: Jafar Rezaei
Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management
Delft University of Technology

Decision-making is part of our daily life. We have to choose. Choosing is difficult. For some decision-making problems, we have standard measures (or tools), for some we don’t. Travel ‘time’ is used to choose the fastest transportation mode from Amsterdam to Lisbon. ‘Time’ is a physical quantity that can be measured. We measure the flight time through comparing the time between Amsterdam to Lisbon to an hour which has already been a standard. All of us can use the same ‘International System of Units’ (SI) for the measurements we need for our decision-making problems, when we are dealing with physical quantities like time, mass, and length. But how should we measure something like ‘kindness’, which is not a physical quantity and for which there is not standard? How about beauty, equity, justice, etc. Can we use comparison to measure such concepts as well? The answer is yes. Although in such situations we don’t have standards, we can still compare alternatives  with respect to these concepts (e.g. comparing people with respect to their kindness). Although in some situations, we make a decision based on a single or multiple physical quantities, in most decision-making problems, we have to choose our best alternative considering multiple measures (criteria), some of which are physical, some are not. Such problems are called multi-criteria decision-making (MCDM) problems. These are complex problems, for which we need efficient and effective tools. One of the most well-known and effective ways to formulate and solve the problem is ‘pairwise comparison’; a method which has become a solid basis for some MCDM methods during the last decades. One of the most efficient MCDM methods, which is comparison-based, is Best-Worst Method (BWM). This method gives a logical structure to the pairwise comparisons, and uses some simple mathematical models to help the decision-maker (DM) to choose his/her best alternative. That is, if a DM has to choose among m alternatives with respect to n criteria, the DM is first asked to identify the best (e.g. most desirable, most important), and the worst (e.g. least desirable, least important) criteria. He/she is then asked to compare the best to the other criteria, and also the other criteria to the worst. These pairwise comparisons are used as the input of some mathematical models, which derive the relative importance (weights) of these criteria. This procedure is repeated n times for the alternatives, each time with respect to one criterion. Finally through the multiplication of the weights of the criteria by the weights of the alternatives with respect to the criteria we come up with a final global score for each alternative which shows the desirability of that alterative compared to the other alternatives. The DM can then choose his/her best alternative. To read the paper please click here, and for more information about this method and different applications please visit

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