Moving towards a sustainable campus

connecting suppliers to a logistical city hub in Nijmegen


Heijendaal Campus attracts many visitors and goods. One way of making the campus more sustainable and livable is to bundle zero emission supplies from a city-based hub. In this way, fewer vehicles are needed, and if these are zero emission vehicles, there is no negative impact on air quality. But how can a supplier best organize delivery via a city hub? This not only changes the goods flow, but also the information and financial flows. And not only within a company, but also between companies. Time for some research!

Context and relevance

A city hub located at the Nijmegen city boundary would be ideal for the campus institutions to have a bundled, zero emission goods supply. For suppliers, this adds a link to the supply chain. It is currently unclear how the use of a city hub will affect a supplier’s logistics, both in terms of planning and costs. However, this information is essential in order to come to a solution supported by all stakeholders (supplier, city hub, recipient).

Research question

How can the supplier, hub and campus rearrange their logistics so that the campus is no longer supplied directly, but via the hub?

Research approach

Due to time constraints, a case study with one supplier was chosen in order to address the essential aspects of the research question.


The study shows that delivery via the hub is cost intensive. This is partly due to the small volume of goods currently delivered via the hub, and partly because the supplier delivers to other customers in Nijmegen. The hub is therefore an additional stop. All stakeholders consider sustainability important and see opportunities in the area of more sustainable delivery, in turn stimulating the design of a new logistics concept.

Impact on living lab goals

Sustainability & livability
Delivery via the city hub offers opportunities for bundled and zero emission transport, directly benefitting sustainability and livability. However, the supplier in this study has to review effects on the current network. Supplying the campus via the city hub while sustaining supply to other customers in the Nijmegen region may lead to more livability on the campus, but to more transport costs for the supplier. This puts the net sustainability at risk.

Due to the current limited volume at the city hub and the traditional supply to Nijmegen customers, delivering via the city hub currently leads to increased supplier costs.

Service level
The stakeholders (supplier, city hub and recipient) were able to reach agreement about the level of service.

Conclusions, recommendations and follow-up research

We recommend:

  • Involving all stakeholders
  • Creating an effective marketing strategy for the hub
  • A smarter design of campus on-site distribution
  • Redistributing the costs and benefits

In concrete terms, this means:
Recipients are advised to request suppliers to deliver via the city hub and to consider on-campus distribution. Which supplier can do this smart and sustainable? Some SLAs (service level agreements) will need to be revised to allow for extra delivery time resulting from the hub solution.

The hub is advised to acquire extra customers (more volume -> relatively lower costs), to review pricing strategies (standard where possible, customization where necessary), to offer extra services (temporary storage, return flows,) and to improve brand awareness.

Suppliers are advised to smartly integrate the city hub into their network. In case of more customers in the Nijmegen region, then arrange delivery via the hub to reduce the large number of stops.

Together, supplier, hub and recipients can make agreements to:

  • Reduce delivery frequencies to the hub and/or campus recipients in order to save transport movements and costs. By offering temporary storage at the city hub, delivery at the hub and on campus can be decoupled.
  • Redistribute costs and benefits. Review changes to costs and benefits in the new situation. To create a transparent and level playing field (all suppliers use the hub), fair agreements have to made.

We recommend that future studies closely review changes to costs and benefits so that all stakeholders have a sense of what they entail and what ‘fair’ distribution means.