5 - Networks and logistics for business

Mobility is one of today's major issues, both for businesses and for citizens, and is becoming increasingly more so because it comprises a wide range of aspects. Indeed, mobility within the Veneto involves issues such as the consequences of the region's geographical-economic location, the standard of its road networks, logistics, the cost of mobility for goods and for people, the negative impact of traffic, and the particular layout of local conurbations. Furthermore, an effective, organised transport system is a fundamental tool for the economic and territorial development of a country and for its competitiveness. Consequently the introduction of major innovation is the key to solving the region's main problems, namely freight transport congestion, quality of life and environmental pollution (Figure 5.1).

Top  Tangible infrastructure

The Veneto lies in a strategic location in Europe due to its network of major cross-trade traffic routes (East-West, North-South) and to recent enlargement, which has moved the centre of the continent eastwards. This new-found location at the heart of Europe should be considered in terms of both physical distance and as a gateway towards the east and the south of the world. However, although the Veneto's location does put it in a privileged position and give it a competitive edge, there are also causes for concern. The Veneto is crossed by European Corridors I (Brenner) and V (Barcelona-Kiev). These two key axes, plus its strategic location for trade with Eastern Europe and southern Mediterranean countries, mean that the Veneto is being subjected to a constant increase in cross-border traffic, which puts additional pressure on a road network that is already used for short-haul intraregional mobility. Consequently, citizens have to endure a negative impact brought about the current state of the road network, which includes congestion, difficult access, accidents, plus atmosphere and noise pollution: all unpleasant features that affect the environment, health and quality of life. If the Veneto is to make the most of its privileged location, then it must introduce mobility policies, i.e. it must complete major infrastructure, improve regional network use, improve demand management for passenger and freight mobility, and build a new relationship between territory and transport and between users and transport.
The standard of infrastructure across the Veneto in physical terms, namely the Veneto's physical resources, can be analysed by what literature refers to as equipment indicators. For instance, the indicator that calculates the kilometres of main road network per 100 km2 of territorial surface places the Veneto in line with the national figure and second only to Piemonte, which is considered to be one of the Veneto's competitors. The same indicator, when used to calculate results for individual provinces, reveals a disadvantage for Belluno and Venezia only, whilst all the other provinces have values in line with, or even far above, the Italian figure. (Figure 5.2) and (Table 5.1)
Additional indicators, known as concentration or "absorption" indicators, are calculated for each type of infrastructure and enable a spatial comparison to be made. Regional figures from 2000-2004 reveal that different types of infrastructure in the Veneto increased. The region's values for 2004 were in line with, or higher than, the national average, which was set at 100 (only the railway network index is slightly lower than 100). The same applies to provincial figures (Table 5.2).
Although the equipment indicators for infrastructure provide good average values for the Veneto, citizens have to deal with congestion on the main road networks every day, which shows that the network is ill-equipped, and indeed unable to cope with the demand for mobility of both citizens and businesses.
There are many sources of official statistics that confirm the Veneto has reached a critical point and is increasingly subjected to a wide and intense range of traffic flows. The size of its vehicle stock increases each year, although at different rates. In 2005 it comprised 3,614,630 units: 2,782,367 cars and 363,194 freight lorries and trailers (Table 5.3).
The ownership of private vehicles also grew, slowly but constantly, with figures mirroring national ones. In 2005 the Veneto had 76 vehicles per 100 inhabitants, with a peak of 80 in the province of Verona (+5.6% on 2004).
The figures for vehicle density on the road network also make interesting reading; not only did density increase constantly from 2002 to 2005, but it was also far higher than both national figures and the figures of its regional competitors, except for Lombardia. (Table 5.4) and (Figure 5.3).
Figures for the registration of brand new cars and for vehicles scrapped also confirm the continual growth in the number of vehicles on the region's roads. In 2005, although the two variables were down on the previous year, their difference, i.e. net demand, was a positive figure of 19,965 units. Furthermore, for every 100 cars taken out of circulation for scrap or export, 113 were registered for the first time, thus increasing the numbers of vehicles on the roads and proving that the Veneto was not simply a replacement market (Table 5.5).
Figures for motorway traffic provide a range of information: some general and others more specific according to vehicle type. The trend reveals an increase of vehicles in transit, although numbers increase more slowly each year. Between 1995-2005, the total number of vehicles in transit increased by 57.3%; particular reference should be made to light vehicles, which increased by 54.7%, and to heavy vehicles, which increased by 65.6%. (Table 5.6), (Figure 5.4), (Figure 5.5) and (Figure 5.6).
Figures reveal an increase in the number of light vehicles using the motorway network, yet there was a drop in the average distance covered per stretch of motorway, thus suggesting that the so-called "urban use" of motorways is on the rise. When ordinary road networks are congested, drivers use motorways because they are able to move quickly between two points that would normally be difficult to cross on an ordinary road network. The extensive use of cars by the inhabitants of the Veneto is also confirmed by the results of a survey conducted in 2005 by Isfort: 44.3% of Veneto families possess two or more cars (Italian figure: 34.6%); 76.8% of those surveyed used motorised transport (Italian figure: 75.7%); 80.2% of those are private cars (Italian figure: 72%) which are used every day by 50.6% of the population (Italian figure: 47.6%).
The average amount of heavy traffic on Veneto motorways also increased between 1995-2005, and to a much greater extent than light traffic. The stretches of motorway with the highest concentration were Brescia-Padova and Brennero-Verona, followed by Venezia-Trieste and Mestre-Belluno. As mentioned above, this is undoubtedly due both to the geographical location of the Veneto, which generates and attracts freight traffic, and to the fact that people still prefer to travel by road (Note 1): In the Veneto in 2004, the indicator that calculates the value for tonnes of freight incoming and outgoing by road (Note 1) as opposed to other modes was 97 (Italian figure: 93.7). Furthermore, the indicator for carriage of goods by road1 shows that the Veneto is not only ahead of all its traditional competitors, but is second only to Trentino Alto Adige with values that increase each year (44.8 in 2005 compared to the Italian figure of 24.9). Figures for the carriage of goods by road reveal increasing quantities leaving and entering the Veneto, both in terms of tonnes and of tonnes/km. (Figure 5.7) and (Table 5.7).
Businesses who work with other countries also prefer road transport; 59% of exported goods is forwarded by road, whilst 25% is shipped by sea. The percentage of imported goods, however, is almost the complete opposite. The majority of trade between the European Union and Eastern Europe is transported by road.
All this gives the impression that the Veneto's road network is unable to deal with either cross-border traffic or internal short-haul traffic and that there is a pressing need for permanent solutions, particularly for traditional hotspots. Some progress is being made, however, as in recent years work has begun on the Mestre bypass and on the Pedemontana Veneta highway. According to a survey by Fondazione Nord Est, north-east businesses retain that these two works are the most urgent and will ensure the region's economic and production systems are competitive; next comes the third lane of the Venezia-Mestre motorway and the high-speed railway link. Analysis of tender bids for public works published by SOA category reveals that in recent years, in particular since 2002 (but not 2004), the majority of bids regarded transport works, namely works that come under general category OG3, which includes roads, motorways, railways, cable railways and airport runways. Special emphasis, however, is being placed on roads. In 2006, 335 tender bids were for OG3 for an overall total of 2.4 billion euro (the Pedemontana Veneta effect) and an average amount of more than 7 million euro per work. These figures cover 31% of the number of bids and 71% of the total amount spent by the Veneto. (Table 5.8) and (Figure 5.8).
However, the building of new roads and the extension of existing ones are not the only solutions; valid, efficient alternatives to road transport must be found. The fight against congestion must also attempt to contain the growing amount of road freight with the use of sustainable modal splitting and the development of intermodality. Across Europe, major contributions are being made to modal transport, i.e. the shift of international freight from road networks to short sea shipping, railways and inland waterways. Indeed, the revised version of the European Commission's White Paper on Transport, published in 2005, lingers on two key concepts that will be Europe's greatest challenges over the next few years: the reduction of road congestion and the improvement of accessibility. The improvement of the entire transport system is a fundamental prerequisite for achieving the general objectives of European enlargement and for generating sustainable growth. Regional action plans, which must be governed by the objectives and priorities of both EU and national policy, emphasise the interventions required by major transport infrastructure. Said interventions are part of an overall strategy to reduce the current modal imbalance and to promote the links between the region's urban nodes along a road network separated from cross-border corridors.
Efforts made to shift road traffic to the railway network are showing the first signs of success. In fact, although the indicator for the total amount of freight entering and leaving the Veneto by rail continues to be well below the Italian figure (1.1 compared to 1.9), the indicator for carriage of goods by rail (tonnes of goods entering and leaving by rail per 100 inhabitants) is growing each year, and in 2005, it exceeded the national figure for the first time.
If this imbalance is to be redressed, then inland ports [Interporti] have a major role to play in both present and future initiatives. The Veneto is a flourishing "logistics environment", second only to Milan, and has performed well in a range of indicators both nationally and internationally. Strong results have been achieved in services and intermodal traffic at inland ports in Verona and Padova; in the wide range of logistics and transport services offered by enterprises; and in the progress of the logistics real-estate market. Regional policy is geared towards the development of two main features: the integration of the two main inland ports (Verona and Padova) and the opening of the hinterland of Venice port towards Central Europe.
The location and infrastructure of Verona's inland port, Quadrante Europa, make it the ideal halfway house for the carriage of goods by road, rail and air, both nationally and internationally. Figures for the carriage of goods by rail and road confirm that the entire Veneto has a major role to play. The carriage of goods by rail is particularly important in that the development of an inland port is always measured in terms of rail traffic (Figure 5.9).
Figures for Padova's inland port are also important, especially in terms of international container traffic, which is Padova's speciality and represents the vast majority of intermodal traffic. During 2006 not only was there an upturn in container traffic, but overall intermodal traffic also climbed by 6.6% (Figure 5.10).
However, inland ports do not simply offer transport services, as their logistics services also play a key role, one that is becoming increasingly prevalent on account of interventions carried out in Padova, Verona and Venezia. These interventions are geared towards redressing the imbalance between the region's various modes of transport and include strengthening local logistics infrastructure.
The logistics sector is becoming increasingly strategic in that it boosts the competitiveness of a system both nationally and internationally. Within this sector, European guidelines for the near future are based on the Lisbon Strategy, which envisages the modernisation of infrastructure in order to strengthen the competitiveness of European businesses. At national level, the Italian government will concentrate its work on this sector and introduce policies that are governed by the Lisbon Strategy from 2006 onwards. Government objectives are outlined in sector plans, and for the first time in Italy, in a bespoke Logistics plan, which highlights the importance being given to this sector.
Each of the Veneto's inland ports is gearing up to deal with the growing demand from both logistics businesses and the economy in order to provide additional impetus and competitiveness to the Veneto's logistics platform. Initiatives underway aim to provide enterprises with support both with real-estate and with a wide range of new services, including incoming and outgoing logistics, warehousing, security and information technology, according to customer requirements.
Verona's inland port, Quadrante Europa, has for some time been following this path, but fresh impetus has been given by the creation of a joint company set up on equal terms by Consorzio Zai and Rete Ferroviaria Italia S.p.A.. This company's objective is to offer Verona a comprehensive, state-of-the-art railway infrastructure for intermodal traffic in order to provide a 24-hour service for freight traffic and to guarantee that specific traffic can be transported by rail, which will split freight between road and rail and thus decongest the roads.
Padova's inland port, however, stands out for many reasons, not least of which is an initiative by Cityporto to distribute goods in the city centre intelligently and ecologically (a similar plan was recently introduced by Vicenza City Council). This initiative was introduced because it was normal practice for each business to organise the transport of its goods individually, which led to an increase in road congestion and environmental pollution. Both couriers and freelance operators are required to deliver their goods to the inland port, a logistics platform on the outskirts of the city centre. Ecological vehicles are then used to deliver the goods to the Restricted Traffic Zone (ZTL) in the city-centre. These vehicles have a low environmental impact, can use preferential lanes and can park in the ZTL 24-hours day.
Venezia's inland port, the region's youngest, has started to convert the old industrial area into a logistics platform in order to exploit the potential of its strategic location, which is linked to the port, airport and railway. One current project, which aims to further encourage the carriage of goods by rail, envisages the extension of a rail-link within the inland port, two new links with the main railway line and the development of new stretches of track that run parallel to the quay. The completion and strengthening of the inland port rail-link was partly financed by the Regione Veneto because it is part of Regional Government policy to encourage road freight to be transported by rail so that the railway network becomes the region's main mode of goods transport. New logistics facilities were also opened at Venezia's inland port last November. This complex is part of a plan to convert industrial buildings into logistics facilities with added-value services and it is equipped with a controlled temperature platform designed to deal with perishable foodstuffs.
Until now, logistics has been dealt with as a "service to industry", i.e. providing local enterprises with a service encompassing both infrastructure and information and goods management in order to optimise resources and minimise external negative factors. When viewed in this way, logistics supports the competitiveness of a local system.
The term logistics, however, can also be viewed from another angle, one which interprets it as an "industry of services", i.e. a sector of the economy that encompasses suppliers of freight transport and logistics services as well as organisation methods and trends at aggregate level (Note 2). In this second meaning, logistics contributes directly to economic growth and has major synergies with the manufacturing and trade industries, whose businesses are its main clients.
In the Veneto, 12,745 transport and logistics businesses were operational in 2004, the vast majority of which are individual enterprises consisting of autonomous workers. The amount of very small enterprises and small enterprises (max. 9 employees) shows that the industry is highly fragmented; nevertheless the Veneto is in line with the national average. Another important feature is the solid presence of medium and large transport and logistics enterprises at the service of organised intermodal transport (Table 5.9).
Analysis of figures by province reveals, rather unsurprisingly, that Padova has the largest number of transport and logistics enterprises, followed by Verona. The former is characterised by the number of its transport enterprises and the latter for its specialised handling and storage services. Venezia, however, stands out for its forwarding, customs and handling enterprises. (Table 5.10) and (Figure 5.11).
Figures for active enterprises per sector per province highlight the conurbation layout that characterizes the region: logistics enterprises are located mainly in provinces that lay along European Corridor V (East-West). (Table 5.11), (Figure 5.12) and (Figure 5.13).
The Osservatorio Logistico Veneto [Veneto Logistics Observatory] conducted a survey into the transport and logistics services offered in western Veneto. The survey interviewed a sample of enterprises from a range of transport and logistics industry segments in the provinces of Verona, Vicenza, Padova and Rovigo. This area was chosen because it is home to a whole host of logistics enterprises. Furthermore, it is characterised by key macro-regional nodes and by the spontaneous localisation of logistics enterprises along European Corridor V or in the peri-urban areas of provincial capitals. Survey figures reveal that there is a dynamic and comprehensive range of services available, including the offer and management of transport in all its forms, integrated distribution logistics, and other specialised services. Verona and Padova stand out on account of their wide range of rail and intermodal transport services; Vicenza for its distribution logistics; whereas Rovigo provides a more traditional range of road transport services.
When outlining the transport industry, however, a clear picture emerges of organized services with regular departures and schedules. Figures for the average number of vehicles used for this type of service reveal that the Transpadana route (East - West) is mainly used for national traffic, whereas international traffic mainly uses European Corridor I, particularly for trade with Central-northern Europe. Veneto transport enterprises have achieved a high level of efficiency which is demonstrated by features such as the reduction of individual transport in favour of collective transport, the optimisation of transport illustrated by high coefficients for filling scheduled vehicles, and guaranteed delivery times that are similar to those of an express courier. Regarding the market areas mainly served by scheduled road transport, EU15 is the hub of international destinations, with Germany playing an especially strong role.
The survey also highlighted that intermodal rail transport is increasingly becoming a valid alternative to road transport due both to rapid delivery times and to reliable, punctual deliveries, two essential features that influence the choice of mode.

Top  Intangible infrastructure

So far, this report has dealt with the importance of an organised, efficient system of tangible infrastructure that will foster the economic and territorial development of a country, as well as its competitiveness. However, so-called intangible infrastructure, namely telecommunications networks, is by no means less important. The need to guarantee adequate local infrastructure, which is also designed to encourage an information society, is an increasingly important requisite at European, regional and local levels.
During the recent relaunch of the Lisbon Strategy, which aims to make Europe the world's most competitive economic area, the development of an information society was given a prominent position. "[...] our innovation performance is crucially dependent on strengthening investments and the use of new technologies, particularly ICTs, by both the private and public sectors. Communication technologies provide the backbone for the knowledge economy. They account for around half of productivity growth in modern economies [...]" (Note 3).
In such a context, access to information is fundamental for the creation of a competitive edge. Relations between actors and their exchange of information, resources, knowledge and strategies are becoming more and more important; today, what counts most is not the possession of a resource, but access to it. The European Union's "eEurope2005" action plan states that its main objective for the development of an information society is the dissemination of broadband internet (Note 4), a tool designed to ensure equal access to all citizens, to increase business competitiveness, to improve the efficiency of public administration and to bridge the digital divide, which may stunt the growth of a system.
The term "infrastructural digital divide" means the gap between those who live in areas linked by advanced infrastructure and services (especially ADSL) and those who live in remote areas where infrastructure and services are unavailable. One way of bridging this divide would be to convince enterprises to invest in the development of networks and services. The dissemination of broadband to unconnected areas is nothing but market logic. Behind the drive for improved coverage lies a demand that would justify the investments made by businesses to upgrade infrastructure; if this demand does not exist, there is a risk that the digital divide will become "chronic".
Literature distinguishes between long-term digital divide areas, where expensive, lengthy and complex intervention is required, e.g. the laying of a fibre optic infrastructure, and medium-term digital divide, where less costly intervention is needed because fibre optics are already in place.
By September 2006, 88% of Italy had ADSL coverage, but about 6 million citizens and 400,000 enterprises face the digital divide because they are in areas which will only have broadband coverage if costly work or satellites are introduced.
The digital divide touches most regions, regardless of their economic potential. Although the most affected regions include Molise, Basilicata, Valle d'Aosta and Sardegna, some of the more developed northern regions have much lower coverage than the national average (Figure 5.14).
When the ratio of long-term digital divide is measured against overall digital divide, regions in the North are the ones with the biggest problems. Piemonte, Lombardia and Veneto make up around a third of the total of citizens affected by the long-term digital divide. (Figure 5.15) and (Figure 5.16)
By mid 2006, business demand for broadband services, which includes the improvement of communication processes and information research, meant that more than 620,000 Italian enterprises, around 70%, had a broadband connection; a number that has more than tripled over the last three years.
A recent study sponsored by Regione Veneto revealed that 87% of enterprises with more than three employees use Internet (Italian average: 89%) and 63% have a broadband connection (Italian average: 61%). Furthermore, 72% of Veneto enterprises using Internet have a broadband connection. Lack of coverage emerged as the biggest obstacle to the installation of a broadband connection by Veneto enterprises; the belief that it was unnecessary or that costs were high costs were mentioned only limitedly.
Osservatorio Logistico Veneto also points out that the transport and logistics enterprises in western Veneto used ICTs mainly because they need to communicate quickly with clients and suppliers, especially for logistics enterprises and for those who cited order management as their main priority. As a business network extends, the need for internet coverage rises (businesses belonging to foreign groups were the main users of ICTs).

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  1. Average of incoming and outgoing goods.
  2. Definitions taken from the report by Osservatorio Logistico Veneto 'Indagine dell'offerta di servizi di trasporto e logistica nel Veneto Occidentale', October 2006.
  3. 'Working together for growth and jobs. A new start for the Lisbon Strategy', Brussels, 2.2.2005 COM (2005)
  4. The term broadband means 'the technology environment that enables digital technologies to be used at the highest levels of interactivity'.

Figure 5.1
Primary infrastructure and Logistics - Year 2006
Figure 5.2
Equipment indicator for road transport infrastructure in kilometres of main road network per 100 km2 of territorial surface (*) - Year 1996
Table 5.1
Equipment indicator for road transport infrastructure in kilometres of main road network per 100 km2 of territorial surface (*) per province - Year 1996
Table 5.2
Equipment indicator for infrastructure per type (Italy = 100) per region and province - Year 2004
Table 5.3
Stock of road vehicles for several categories and percentage variations. Veneto - Years 2002-2005
Table 5.4
Motorisation (*) and percentage variations per province - Years 2002-2005
Figure 5.3
Road vehicle density on Veneto roads (*) and percentage variations per province - Years 2004-2005
Table 5.5
Road vehicle demand. Veneto and Italy - Years 2003-2005
Table 5.6
Motorway network traffic per vehicle category. Veneto - Year 2005
Figure 5.4
Motorway network in the Veneto (not publicly owned). Average daily figures for hypothetical light vehicles (*) (based on 1990 figures) - Years 1990-2006
Figure 5.5
Motorway network in the Veneto (not publicly owned). Average daily figures for hypothetical heavy vehicles (*) (based on 1990 figures)- Years 1990-2006
Figure 5.6
Motorway network in the Veneto (not publicly owned). Average daily figures for hypothetical vehicles (*) (based on 1990 figures) - Years 1990-2006
Figure 5.7
Total freight in tonnes from and to the Veneto by area of destination/origin (*). Veneto - Years 2003-2005
Table 5.7
Total freight in millions of tonne-kilometre by area of destination/origin (*). Veneto - Years 2003-2005
Table 5.8
Tender bids for public works by SOA category: first 10 categories per number of tender bids. Veneto - Year 2006
Figure 5.8
Tender bids for public works plus number and average amount of bids published for the SOA category roads, motorways, bridges, viaducts and railways (OG3). Veneto - Years 2002-2006
Figure 5.9
Total of rail goods traffic in millions of tonnes and thousands of T.E.U.(*). Verona's inland port - Years 2003:2006
Figure 5.10
Goods handled by type in thousands of T.E.U.(*) and I.C.U. (**). Padova's inland port - Years 2003:2006
Table 5.9
Goods transport and logistics enterprises by employee class. Veneto - Year 2004
Table 5.10
Goods transport and logistics enterprises per province. Veneto - Year 2004
Figure 5.11
Goods transport and logistics enterprises per province. Veneto - Year 2004
Table 5.11
Active enterprises in the logistics district per province - Year 2006
Figure 5.12
Active enterprises in the logistics district per province - Year 2006
Figure 5.13
Local units of goods transport and logistics enterprises per municipality. Veneto - Year 2004
Figure 5.14
Percentage of municipalities and population with ADSL coverage per region - March 2006
Figure 5.15
Ratio between coverage and digital divide per region as a percentage of the population - March 2006
Figure 5.16
ADSL coverage in municipalities - October 2005
Chapter 5 in figures
Chapter 5 in figures

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