Thessaloniki, Greece

Innovation focus and new services

Operation of Hub and Spoke delivery model supported by Digital Twins

Context and challenges

The Thessaloniki agglomeration is the second largest Greek city, situated in Northern Greece and currently has 1.106.730 citizens in its greater area while the municipality has a population of approx. 315.196. In the Thessaloniki agglomeration, two types of logistics operations are emerging. The first is the management of the regional logistics (national/regional supply chain flows involving production and consumption points and important T&L terminals in the greater area). The second is the management of the conventional last mile. Combined use of existing capacities and development or regional/urban hubs with green services for the last mile is a priority for the authority, as economic activities are depending on the efficiency of these operations.

Thessaloniki is one of the 100 EU Mission climate-neutral and smart cities by 2030. Thessaloniki’s challenge is to become a zero-emission city by 2030 and overall enhance citizens’ quality of life. RCM adopted a decarbonisation strategy in 2017 for T&L and it supports municipalities in promoting energy-efficient and CO2-neutral mobility solutions. Therefore, testing new tools for integrated infrastructure planning and innovative solutions adoption for green and shared operations in urban logistics is one of the main priorities of the Region.

Objectives and ambitions

Implementation of a Hub & Spoke delivery business model integrated with last-mile delivery as a service-enabling tool.  Micro-fulfilment centres will be installed at the perimeter of the historical centre and will be tested in a real operational environment by one of the biggest e-commerce operators and courier companies in Greece (ACS). This new business model will be further integrated by a Digital as a service last mile delivery platform provided by CERTH and THESSM@LL which will provide the logistics operators AI optimization tools for i) optimizing the service network planning as well as the “on street movements” of the vehicle and ii) for testing through simulation additional complementary innovations and city logistics solutions such as the inclusion of green fleets for the last mile delivery,  

The expected benefits of this measure are multifold. From the view of the logistics operator, this measure is expected to achieve higher load factors of the “in service” vehicles, fewer kilometres driven, lower delivery costs and higher customer satisfaction levels. Thessaloniki agglomeration (RCM) aims to achieve higher levels of efficiency and effectiveness of the city logistics operations which will result at the end to lower negative externalities in the environment, the economy and the society. 

Additionally, the creation of an ecosystem approach is crucial for enabling the scalability and transferability of the measure. Finally, the inclusion of these innovations in the regional Sustainable Urban Logistics Plan (SULP), which is planned to be implemented in the following period, will support RCM in the transition towards climate neutrality.  


    • Implementation of a Hub & Spoke delivery business model: Micro-fulfilment centres will be installed at the perimeter of the historical centre and will be tested in real operational environment
    • Integration with last-mile delivery as a service (LaS) enabling tools:
      • Predictive analytics for demand forecasting and location selection for the locker’s establishment
      • Decision making for facility location (combined sustainable business & city planning for last mile delivery);
      • Traffic-aware dynamic routing;
    • Simulation of new services and vehicles (zero emission & modular) in last mile operations and collaborative solutions during disruptive events (International Fair, Pandemic, extreme weather events)

    Partners involved  

    • The Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH)/ Research & Academia: CERTH will undertake the testing, monitoring and evaluation of the LL. CERTH/HIT will undertake the development of the LaS optimization tools and provide the necessary digital research infrastructure (ThessM@ll and Thessaloniki Digital Twin) for the simulation testing, the real-time traffic data provision and the generalisation of the results.
    • ACS Courier/ Last mile & Infrastructure operator: ACS Courier company will be the leading locker provider. ACS is the largest courier company in Greece, with over 60 million shipments per year. In recent years, ACS has been investing in smart and clean last-mile solutions (lockers, electric vans, etc.).
    • The Region of Central Macedonia (RCM)/ Public authority: Thessaloniki Agglomeration authority of RMC will support the scaling up and the viability of the innovations tested through the provision of the appropriate political support and the implementation of the necessary actions for harnessing their adaptation to the under-development SULP.