ALICE Roadmap to Physical Internet released!

Friday, November 13th, 2020

Download the Roadmap

In response to the Paris Agreement, more and more governments, associations, and businesses are setting bold climate targets. As set out in the European Green Deal, the ambition for Europe is to be the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050. This will be achieved with a two-step approach designed to reduce CO2 emissions by 50%, if not 55%, by no later than 2030.

We are in high need and pressure to move to a paradigm in which we can do more with less. Our aim is to avoid waste and use all type of resources and capabilities efficiently towards sustainability.

said François Regis Le Tourneau, ALICE Chair and Corporate Supply Chain Standards and Prospective Director at L’ORÉAL

In parallel to the development of lower and zero tailpipe emission vehicles and low emission energy, it is key to leverage opportunities for increased logistics efficiency. We envision large gains and benefits to all stakeholders by doing more with less in the freight and transport industry. The existing idle capacity of assets in all modes of transport and storage could be better utilised, and flows could be managed in a more consolidated way using and combining transport modes and other logistics assets smartly.

This roadmap develops the Physical Internet Concept to support the Implementation of the Zero Emissions Logistics 2050 Roadmap delivered in 2019 and building on the Truly Integrated Transport System for Sustainable and Efficient Logistics delivered in 2016.

The publication of this roadmap concludes a journey that started at the International Physical Internet Conference in Groningen in 2018 and the publication of the Roadmap towards zero emissions logistics in 2019. As Alice made decarbonization of logistics its main objective it was important to underline how Physical internet was still central.

In fact, Physical Internet is now a core strategy to achieve the main end: A logistic industry enabling a sustainable human ecosystem on Earth. The Physics and chemistry of Greenhouse gases is clear: whatever we will be able to do in the next 10 years is key to stop the warming trend. So while we badly need research in new technologies built around sustainable energy sources, the real innovative heavy lifting must be done now by counting mostly on current infrastructure and technological assets.

How?  With the much better supply chain management concepts that Physical Internet enables.

said Sergio Barbarino, ALICE vice-chair and Research Fellow at P&G


The Physical Internet builds on the extensive and systemic consolidation of flows and the network of networks concepts. The Physical Internet proposes a full consolidation of logistics flows from independent shippers (e.g. extended pooling) in logistics networks. The Physical Internet proposes to pool resources and assets in open, connected, and shared networks (i.e. connecting existing (company) networks, capabilities and resources) so they can be used seamlessly by network users and partners. By pooling demand and resources to answer that demand, it is expected that the usage of the resources is more efficient. The Physical Internet includes transport, storage and physical handling operations of load units such as containers, swap-bodies, pallets, boxes, etc and any other resource needed for a freight transport and logistics operation.

For about 25 years now, I am active in the fascinating world of supply chain. I’ve looked at it from the perspective of cargo-owners and, more recently, from the one of Inland Waterway Transport. And regardless of the angle I take, I am convinced that the Commissions’ ambition regarding substantial Modal Shift and Zero-Emmission cannot materialise without adopting and implementing the ideas and principles of the Physical Internet; any stakeholder you can think of will benefit from it. The ideas and principles? They are mostly common sense! Concerning implementation: technologies and tools to build on are available.

So, what are we waiting for to roll it all out ?

said Nik Delmeire, ALICE Vice-Chair and Coordinator European Inland Waterway Transport Platform

The Physical Internet Concept can be applied in different logistics and supply chain domains including urban logistics

We need to be ready to share when needed and create open collaboration frameworks between companies and with cities. In the urban domain, Physical Internet concepts will help companies to address stricter access regulations and low/zero emission vehicles standards to avoid pollution and congestion in a cost effective way. Physical Internet may overcome potential trade-offs between the accessibility of goods and services, quality of life and environmental aspects achieving less kms travelled to deliver the same amount of goods. This concern is growing as the surge of e-commerce, which is creating a significant increase in freight traffic flows in cities that if well-organized could indeed save people related traffic. Physical Internet applications in the city context will benefit citizens, cities, and companies[2]

said Francois Regis Le Tourneau, ALICE Chair and Corporate Supply Chain Standards and Prospective Director at L’ORÉAL

The Physical Internet development started already in 2015 and we can see today many examples working operationally and being implemented in practice. The Roadmap sketches possible developments in generations until 2040. PI-like operations will be well established by 2030. The shown developments from 2030 to 2040 focus on improvements on the way to achieve autonomous, open and shared PI operation.

ALICE Roadmap to Physical Internet will be presented in the International Physical Internet Conference (online)
19th of November from 15.00 to 17.00 CET

Zoom Link: (ID: 966 4076 0872)

More information on IPIC2020 and full IPIC2020 programme

The roadmap has identified 5 main areas of development:

From Logistics Nodes to PI Nodes – In Logistics Nodes, goods are consumed, stored, transformed, or transhipped from one transport mode to another. Ports, airports, logistics hubs, terminals, distribution centres, warehouses, depots are examples of Logistics Nodes. The Physical Internet envisions the development of the Logistics Nodes into Physical Internet nodes in which the operations are standardised and the usage of a family of standard and interoperable modular load units from maritime containers to smaller boxes is extensive. Services in PI nodes are visible and digitally accessible and usable including planning, booking and execution operations.

From Logistics Networks to Physical Internet Networks – Logistics Networks include Logistics Nodes as well as the transportation services connecting the Logistics Nodes and reaching to the destination. Logistics Networks are under the control of a single company either a shipper, a freight forwarder or a logistics service provider reaching their value chain (i.e., customers and suppliers). PI Networks are expected to build seamless, flexible and resilient, door-to-door services consolidating and deconsolidating all shipments within a logistics network in which all assets, capabilities and resources are seamlessly visible, accessible and usable to make the most efficient possible use of them;

Developing the System of Logistics Networks towards the Physical Internet – Includes individual logistics networks that are interconnected. Therefore, the assets, services and resources of the individual logistics networks can be accessed by all logistics networks owners. The System of Logistics Networks forms the backbone of the Physical Internet and requires secure, efficient and extensible services for the flow of goods, information and finances across logistics networks;

Access and Adoption – This area describes the main requirements to access the Physical Internet through a logistics network part of it. It also includes different steps and the mind shift required to adopt Physical Internet concepts.

Governance – Governance includes the developments needed to evolve the Logistics Nodes, logistics networks and the System of Logistics Networks into the Physical Internet, i.e. the rules defined by the stakeholders forming or using them as well as the trust building processes and mechanisms.

The roadmap includes recommendations to different types of Stakeholders and calls for the required collaboration to build it.

In the full version of the roadmap, more details are provided along with many examples and current implementations and projects working on it. If you are interested in receiving a copy of the full report, please contact Fernando Liesa, Secretary General, ALICE at

Additionally, SENSE project has developed The Physical Internet knowledge platform which is the reference knowledge base for the Physical Internet development gathering experts, projects, companies and relevant documents, videos, papers and events.

[1] A Physical Internet builder is a company, a government, a R&D or a civil society organization supporting ALICE Physical Internet roadmap implementation through particular actions, projects, programmes, solutions or other initiatives. ALICE will connect Physical Internet builders with other builders and ALICE network to support and speed up.

[2] For more information, visit the Physical Internet video in the city context and the developments of the joint POLIS & ALICE strategic dialogue group

Activities performed with the support of SENSE project“Accelerating the Path Towards the Physical Internet”. The SENSE project has received funding from the European Union´s Horizon 2020 research and innovation Programme under grant agreement No. 769967.

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