Reasons for Collaboration

SMEs are a driving force of the EU economy. They are embedded in the local & regional economic systems, they sustain the regional economic development and generate prosperity. The CASTLE regions strongly base their future economic development on SMEs and on their ability to face new production and market imperatives, which impose to develop ‘just in time’ production processes, to manage supply flows characterised by high frequency, small size shippings, to integrate the value chain, to manage a more and more spatially distributed network of production and distribution activities. Transport and logistics play a fundamental role to face these challenges as they represent the strategic leverages te be on the regional, national and global markets and to integrate SMEs in their procurement and distribution networks (“extended enterprises” strengthening through logistics).

Nevertheless SMEs logistics management is far from being optimal.

In fact the fragmentation of the supply chain flows, the presence of multi-localised enterprises, the need to act on geographically scattered and customized markets results in a dramatic increase of road transport to face the competitiveness requirements of flexibility and capillarity. Moreover SMEs logistics management is still individual and lacks in clustering, networking, innovation and cooperation, which are necessary to optimise the use of the existing logistics services and to make SMEs systems more competitive. The lack of logistics innovation is also due to the lack of adequate logistics training systems. Finally the logistics supply is still strongly fragmented and logistics SMEs suffer a weak market position. This situation results in threats for SMEs future competitiveness and in transport congestion, which affects the environment (also in terms of energy waste) and once more the effectiveness of the industrial and logistics activities themselves.

The CASTLE regions share these problems and identify local and regional public authorities as the drivers to solve them. They can be the initiators of logistics innovations with their policies, the triggers to shorten the divide between economic development and environment protection (win-win policies) in terms of: – stimulating local logistics operators to cooperate, innovate and face the needs of the production systems; – building a system of competences and skills in logistics as well as of training systems complying with the training needs of SMEs; – creating business networks for a systematic SMEs cooperation in the logistics management (in industrial areas and clusters) leading to competitiveness improvements and optimal use of logistics resources.

For this purpose policies for logistics in SMEs systems is the primary target of CASTLE. The CASTLE regions present different levels of maturity in logistics policies development but they all share the same needs.