LL1 – Ghent Hub

Ghent’s Multifunctional Synchromodality Resilient City Logistics Hub

The Living Lab at Ghent (LL1) aims to create a flexible and resilient logistics system for multi-user and multifunctional purposes. The Living Lab will focus on the impact of events caused by climate change on the operations of the City Logistics Hub.

City Logistics Hubs in the city of Ghent - sea canal (between Ghent (B) and Terneuzen (Netherlands), canals, rivers, canals with tidal action with a wide range of infrastructure.
Corridor / Area
Belgium to Netherlands
City & IWT Authority
4 Autonomous Vessels
1 Emergency Vessel
(for shared use)
20+ Shippers


The key challenge for LL1 is to set up a multipurpose scenario which can automatically support IWT during a crisis. During standard operations, true to the synchromodal paradigm, the City Logistics Hubs will synchronize the arrival of the freight over barges with various transport modes that are compatible with the objectives of the City of Ghent to focus on the quality of living and environmental sustainability.

These modes include cargo bikes and electrical vehicles that can move freight and people into and out of the city. Yet, when cargo arrives in the City Logistics Hub over inland waterways, it requires infrastructure to load the cargo off the barge and onto the Urban logistic transport modes.

New automated technology and the upgrade of the physical infrastructure will allow, on the one hand, to improve Synchromodality, and on the other hand, to provide a support “package” for a time of crisis, thus increasing the overall infrastructure’s resilience.

News from Living Lab 1

March 2024

According to the timeline, Living Lab 1 is currently focused on expanding the Smart Terminal, with certain parts already in full construction mode. 

Such is the case of the new AVATAR vessel constructed by Seafar, which is ready for the installation of its zero-emission propulsion line. This will be followed by the construction of the remote control sailing installation, along with extensive testing of the various use cases. Considering all the activities, the vessel building is planned to be completed in September 2024

The remote control steering feature of the Command Center in Antwerp has already been successfully tested in the Ghent area waters. The study on automated mooring installation is underway, while water sensors have been selected for installation in the North Sea Port.

Operational work in Living Lab 1

September 2023

The Living Lab 1 focuses on the impact of events caused by climate changes on the operations of the City Logistics Hub. During the first year period, the LL1 focused on the below mentioned targets and following actions to achieve them.

In order to implement synchromodality solutions for cities based on cargo loading infrastructure, to improve resilience and sustainability, the City Logistics Hubs will synchronize the arrival of the freight over barges with various transport modes that are compatible with the objectives of the city of Ghent focusing on quality of living and environmental sustainability. To make this possible, tests with multimodal transport facilities have been carried out and multimodal logistic flows are being discussed with stakeholders. Various types of means of transport have been examined for their applicability and flexibility for use in the Smart Terminal, however tests still need to be worked out. Finally, stakeholder meetings with the city, Flemish water authority and North Sea Port have been done on regular base.

To improve energy resilience with power solutions innovations, including floating batteries, the LL1 has done desk research and research on suppliers, set up first tests with battery pack and studied the selection of battery, convertor, controller and other equipment. 

The activities in LL1 will connect to project’s working groups on IWT resilience and sustainability solutions to upgrade and automate the mobile and fixed infrastructure. The LL1 will design and build a resilient mobile Smart Terminal (connected with water, road and rail) deploying, when appropriate the Resilience-assist Modular Platform and Pontoons. In this regard, work is in progress together with UGAL, through ongoing research on the vessel model, propulsion, energy system and more, while negotiations are being set up with suppliers for purchase of aluminum, propulsion system and engines.

Further research in necessary to provide a Mobile Command Center (back up with Shore CC in Antwerp and Rotterdam) for managing the vessels with Smart Navigation, and an automated mooring system, for loading/unloading activities of the ships and land material.

Resilience-assist Modular Platform as “emergency transport and urban battery” has been part of the regular partner group meetings with the team of UGAL. The platform will be deployed with at least 3 existing vessels in autonomous sailing for platooning.

Finally, the deployment of sensors for environmental data gathering (the ships will be equipped with sensors on quays, bridges, locks) is still under development but progressing well with ICCS proposing to install 2 sensors to measure the water level in the canal in Ghent. The LL1 is however still looking for a partner who can implement the other sensors for air and water quality and work is also under study on the system to capture the data and send it to the Digital Twin.

Partners involved

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