‘Not all on-campus service transportation demands a car or company van.’

Context and relevance

The Radboud University (RU) primary process is mainly outsourced to four external companies. These carry out minor renovations or repairs (Plegt-Vos), maintain electrical (Croonwolter & Dros) and mechanical installations (EQUANS), or manage the ICT systems (Siemens). The work encompasses the logistic transport flow and falls under the term Service Logistics. Service logistics is characterised by the (often) combined delivery of both services and goods or materials. Thus, in addition to the technicians – who have specific qualities – parts and tools also have to be available at the right place and at the same time. This study is a first step to mapping this logistics flow with regard to sustainability, liveability, and its impact on service levels.

Research question

The research question for the study became: “How can the design of Radboud University service logistics be made more sustainable by reducing transport movements and CO2 emissions, and what impact does this have on the service level?”

Research approach

In the qualitative preliminary study, we conducted a literature review on service logistics and held interviews with managers from both the external companies and the RU’s internal facilities department. We then compiled questionnaires to identify transport movements to, on and off campus, and to map the underlying reasons.


The four companies use an on-campus location from which their work is organised. Depending on the company and type of work, the technicians use different forms of transport for commuting than for on-campus transportation on campus. Of the 34 respondents, 26 arrived at work by car or a company van, in which they regularly left their tools and work materials. Some of them work at other locations in the Netherlands. The transport movements on campus are partly by CO2 emission-free transport (e.g., electric scooter, e-bike or walking); or partly by fuel-using cars or vans. In the future, this latter category will no longer be permitted on campus as it becomes a Zero-Emissions Zone.

Impact on goals living lab

Sustainability and liveability
With regard to the Heijendaal Campus sustainability and liveability, we examined the use of the type of means of transport to, on and from the campus. The cars and company vans used by employees to travel to work almost all had (CO2 emitting-internal combustion engines. These are also often used on campus for travelling to the worksite, but this depends on the required materials or tools. Maintenance activities by the four companies resulted in 160 to more than 200 transport movements per day, from the central location to the worksite and back. Some employees preferred to walk or cycle if possible. One of the companies – with about half of the respondents – has made electric scooters and cargo bikes available to their employees for use when on campus; these are regularly used. Two respondents indicated that people do not hear their (electric) vehicles when travelling around the campus. Another indicated that the cycle paths are good, but that the Heyendaalseweg-Groenewoudseweg and Heyendaalseweg-Erasmuslaan roundabouts can be dangerous.

Service level
We approached the Service level in two ways. First, we reviewed the extent to which the RU primary process is affected by the different means of transport. Of the employees interviewed, the technicians mostly used their means of commuter transport also to transport materials or tools. An electric scooter or cargo bike is available to about half the employees for this purpose, this was generally deemed sufficient. However, in some situations, the transport of materials was still by car or van. On some occasions, a technician didn’t have the right material/tools available as not everything could be taken on the e-scooter. An example of this is when ladders were needed. Secondly – with regard to service levels – we investigated the extent to which employees were satisfied with their means of transport. For those who did not use a bicycle, this was mostly for practical reasons. Respondents were generally positive about the availability of on-campus e-transport, however some mentioned that a scooter is too small whereas this was not mentioned when discussing cargo bikes. Finally, employees were asked about any bottlenecks that might arise from the introduction of the Zero-Emissions Zone, as this may require employees to commute to campus by public transport or bicycle, for example. Although not everyone had any issues with this, many noted potential problems because of materials and tools in their cars or company vans which would then have to be transhipped. Other potential problems mentioned were: no more private vehicles, parking problems outside the Zero-Emissions Zone, recharging possibilities or capacity within the Zero-Emissions Zone, extra costs, or the implication that one employee would have to actually ‘manage’ two means of transport, one of which would then always be stationary.

Conclusions, recommendations and follow-up research

The study shows that not all on-campus service transportation demands a car or company van. Sometimes employees travel around the campus on foot and/or if available, by (cargo) bicycles or e-scooters. If these are unavailable or the material or tools to be used are too large or heavy, they use cars or company vans. These latter are usually non-electric and are sometimes also used privately or for work elsewhere. For this group of user, the best option would be the future availability of electric cars or company vans. They were positive about the on-campus vehicles, provided they are large enough to transport materials and tools for which the cargo-bikes were mostly appropriate. Thus, a welcome step would be the purchase of cargo bikes or similar means of transport such as LEVs (Light Electric Vehicles). The proposed Zero Emissions Zone infrastructure does foresee the provision of off-campus parking spaces with transfer options for employees, on-campus charging facilities for electric vehicles, and the provision of bicycle-friendly roundabouts on and near the campus.