PhD Position Design of Operational Mechanisms in Digital Booking Platforms for Freight Transport Systems – TU Delft – Delft

  • Delft

TU Delft

Job description

Freight transportation is a major cause of CO2 emissions and congestion globally, accounting for 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions, which are expected to double by 2050. Despite several attempts to create a modal shift to greener rail and waterborne transport, we still experience a predominantly truck-based system that does not exploit the well-connected networks and the deployed capacity.

A solution is transitioning toward digital booking platforms. In other industries, e.g., airline and hospitality, booking platforms have favoured synchronization and matching between supply and demand, and, thereby, better capacity utilization by increasing visibility of the offer and providing a user-centred perspective. Likewise, in freight transport, online platforms can potentially favour the synchronization between shippers and transport providers by offering seamless matching, execution, monitoring and payment of transportation services. However, the complexity in deploying such a concept stems from the high heterogeneity of the industry (e.g., transport modes, cargo features), conservative business models and rigid mindsets that limit the opportunities for interconnected networks and visibility of transport options.

The PhD research is part of a project called: “It’s a cargo match!…” Attaining waste-free and effective freight transport systems by seamlessly matching demand and supply with inclusive, smart, and green-oriented booking platforms”, with acronym FMaaS (Freight Mobility-as-a-Service). This 4-years project concerns the development of scientific foundations for booking platforms dedicated to freight. Current platforms still lack intermodal coordination and a shipper-centred position which is a key element in this newly devised concept. In particular, we expect a shift in the decision-making process, which is currently in the hands of transport operators and freight forwarders.

The PhD candidate is expected to deliver insights on how a booking platform should be managed when the shipper has decisional role. The candidate will identify how the matching mechanisms should be devised to favour the match and lead to sustainable (multimodal) choices. Among others, we expect that game-theoretical models will be developed as well as simulation-optimization frameworks to identify booking thresholds where service network resources can be allocated to planned cargo vs matched cargo. Pricing and service rating can be considered as well in the system to steer transport demand favourably. Finally, from a network service design perspective, the PhD candidate will evaluate the extent to which scheduled services may change in frequency, and network coverage resulting from integrating these scheduled services in freight matching platforms. The network design will take into account backup options in order to guarantee a resilient and robust system.

This position will be filled within the Department of Engineering Systems and Services, section Transport and Logistics at the Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. 


We are looking for a highly motivated and enthusiastic researcher with strong analytical skills. The candidate should also feel at ease in interdisciplinary environments, since the FMaaS project embraces a wide range of disciplines (e.g., AI, business models, choice behavior, etc.) and collaboration is expected with fellow PhD students, and also with practitioners, given the presence of important stakeholders from the transport and logistics sector.

We are looking for a candidate with the following background and qualities:

  • An MSc degree in Industrial Engineering & Management, Econometrics, Computer Science or other disciplines providing a strong Operations Research background;
  • Good programming skills (e.g., C/C++, Python);
  • Experience in coding algorithms is appreciated;
  • Fluent English skills, both written and spoken (C1 level);
  • Good organizational, project management and communication skills;
  • Strong analytical skills and a creative approach.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the .

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from €   2770 per month in the first year to €   3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

T he TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. 

For international applicants, TU Delft has the   . This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a    for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core  and we actively  to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Technology, Policy and Management

The Faculty of TPM provides an important contribution to solving complex technical-social issues, such as energy transition, mobility, digitalisation, water management and (cyber) security. TPM does this with its excellent education and research at the intersection of technology, society and policy. We combine insights from both engineering and social sciences as well as the humanities. TPM develops robust models and designs, is internationally oriented and has an extensive network of knowledge institutions, companies, social organisations and governments.

Click  to go to the website of the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management.

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