The Ruhr Area is one of the five largest conurbations in Europe and with approx. 5.2 million people the largest metropolitan area in Germany. Over decades, the region has transformed itself from a coal and steel industrial site to a service and culture-oriented metropolis.
Situated in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Ruhr Area stretches across 116 kilometres from east to west and 67 kilometres from north to south. The region is crisscrossed by the rivers Emscher, Lippe and by the Ruhr, from which it got its name. Eleven metropolitan cities and four administrative districts are clustered in the Ruhr Metropolis; that is a total of 53 communities which are incorporated in the Ruhr Regional Association.
The Ruhr Area is a core region in Europe in terms of transport links and consumer accessibility. More than 50 million consumers are accessible in 4 hours.
The Ruhr Area was at the centre of the German economic development of the 1950s and 1960s, as very rapid economic growth created a heavy demand for coal and steel. After coal and steel enterprises became increasingly unprofitable from the 1970s on, the formative coal and steel industry disappeared and the structural transformation began. Today, the Ruhr Area is a modern scientific, technological and cultural location. With five universities, one art college, 15 other higher education institutions with over 160,000 students and numerous research institutes and technology centres, the Ruhr area is one of the most densely concentrated education and research landscapes in Europe. The particular areas of economic and scientific competence in the region include energy, chemicals, engineering of industrial technologies and materials, a growing creative industry, health services, ICT, logistics and tourism. Approximately 2.2 million people are employed in the region and earn 5.6 per cent of the German gross domestic product.
Besides energy and materials engineering, the region has identified logistics as one of the three priority drivers of its economic development.
Logistics economic performance of the Ruhr Area and North Rhine-Westphalia
The Ruhr Area as a European logistics hub is home to a dense tri-modal infrastructure. The extensive road network crossing the region connects the North Sea ports in the Netherlands with the economic centres in Eastern Europe. The region is constantly challenged to cope with city, regional and also the growing long-distance traffic. Approximately 2,200 kilometres of railway track and 70 stations, of which eleven are stations for the IC and ICE ensure excellent train connections within the region as well as beyond its borders. The Ruhr Area’s most important ports are located in Duisburg and Dortmund. The Duisburg Port, in particular, is an international logistics site and the world’s largest inland port with around 300 companies and 13,000 direct and indirect workplaces in Duisburg.
Air traffic to and from the Ruhr region is handled by the Dortmund airport and the international airports in Düsseldorf and Cologne/Bonn.
Besides it’s excellent position, the Ruhr Area benefits from its diverse range of high-performance logistics providers and its strong industrial foundations. 33 of the top 100 logistics companies have their headquarters in the region including SSI Schäfer, Schenker AG, SimPlan AG and Rhenus AG. About 160,000 people work in logistics sectors. Since about two-thirds of Germany's ex- and imports are being handled by the sea ports of Antwerp, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Zeebrugge, the Ruhr Ares serves as a main hinterland hub. Logistics Industry in the Ruhr Area at a glance: (i) 5,750 companies, (ii) 160,000 employees, (iii) 10.6 billion EUR annual turnover.
Looking at North Rhine-Westphalia as the relevant administrative district in the project, the logistics sector is one of the largest industries here, too. Nearly 15,600 companies are accounted for by logistics-specific services; additional 6,000 companies are logistics-related suppliers and service providers. Approximately 274,000 people are employed directly by the logistics sector, 600,000 if jobs in trade and industry, which are also concerned with logistics, are also taken into consideration. That's not surprising, are around 17 percent of German export goods “Made in North Rhine-Westphalia” and around 22 percent of all German imports go to North Rhine-Westphalia. Thus, every year, 270 million tons of goods have to be transported to their destinations here.
Logistic Research in the Ruhr Area
Today the Ruhr Area is home to Germany’s largest and most diverse range of courses in logistics with more than 300 alumni per year. The Universities of Duisburg-Essen and Dortmund are among the top logistics universities in Germany. More than 600 scientists work at the eleven universities and seven external research institutions. The Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML) in Dortmund represents the world’s largest logistics research institution. The IML has close ties to the university insti-tutes. The three sections of the IML are each headed by full professors of the Technical University of Dortmund. While the chair for Conveyor and Warehouse Systems intensively deals with the fields of intra-logistics and self-controlled logistics systems, the chair for Factory Organization focuses on planning, control and organization of factories, SCM and maintenance management. The focal point of the chair for Transport Systems and Logistics is the entire range of transport logistics activities.
The Centre for Logistics & Traffic (ZLV) as part of the University of Duisburg-Essen is worldwide unique because of its interdisciplinary research conception comprising 32 professors from 7 faculties. Core competencies are simulations of logistics and transport systems (chairs of technical logistics as well as Germany’s only chair for physics of transport), optimisation of logistics systems with operation research applications, e-mobility infrastructure grids, waterborne transport and inland harbours and economic geography of logistics and transport networks. Through the recent years the ZLV has developed a strong research focus on the sustainability of logistics and mobility systems and is also one of two collaborating centres of the University’s main research field “urban systems”.
The EffizenzCluster LogistikRuhr bundles the broad range of interdisciplinary research activities. The key issues in the cluster include versatile logistics systems, freight transport management, logistics software developments, environmentally adapted logistics services, urban supply concepts and competence development strategies and qualification. Another expertise is the area of future internet logistics (internet of things, internet of services, RFID). In this context, 30 joint research projects are funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).
Logistics Cluster in the Ruhr Area
The EffizienzCluster LogistikRuhr is the largest logistics research and development cluster within the logistics branch. It was established by the Fraunhofer-Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML and is unique in its size, economic power and scientific capabilities. The EffizienzCluster was a winner in the Leading-Edge Cluster competition run by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The aim is to facilitate the individuality of tomorrow (in terms of individual supply of goods and mobility) with 75% of the resources of today (in ecological and economic terms). The projects chosen through the competition have been awarded funding for up to five years, from 2010 to 2015. The EffizienzCluster Management GmbH acts as the cluster’s neutral coordination hub.
More than 120 companies – major corporations as well as small and medium-sized companies – in addition to 11 research and training facilities are directly involved in the cluster’s projects.
These 30 projects and 3 associated projects are being conducted in seven technical and socio-tech-nical key issue areas.
The cluster’s projects have a total volume of 80 million euros, hereof the companies involved are participating with a share of approximately 40 million euros.
The funding volume of associated projects totals an additional 20 million euros.
It is envisaged that during the course of the projects, 100 products and patents will be developed with a potential market value of over 2 billion euros and, at the same time, over 4,000 professional positions will be created.