Icon info
Research business design thinking innovation 2
Leading Organizational Transformation
Business Design & Innovation
Build over Water

Business Design & Innovation

Build over Water

Research into how the transportation of building materials can be moved to waterways was done through twelve trial runs with palletized building materials, complemented with research into how regions can be opened up using water-based distribution centers.

Type project goederenvervoer
Project partners Despriet Harelbeke, Phidan, FEPROMA, FEMA, Gyproc, Haven Genk, Wienerberger, Xella, Eternit, CBR, Betonfabriek Coeck, Ship-it, JoGo Shipping, VIL, Vlaamse Waterweg en VUB.
Duration September 01, 2011 - October 09, 2012
Contact person Sara Bastiaensens, PhD


With 7 to 8% of the GDP, the construction sector is an important economic value for Flanders and Belgium. It also shows on our roads: no less than 25% of the freight transport on our main roads is related to the construction sector. Each construction site has an average of 80 truck movements


In the framework of multimodal freight transport, Smart Mobility was requested by the building materials sector (manufacturers and wholesalers) to research whether the concept of Regional Water-based Distribution Centers could offer a solution for the mobility issues in the sector, which will only increase in the coming years.

Build over Water 1

Project Development

During the project, the Port of Genk and logistics service provider Despriet Harelbeke offered their water-based terrains, infrastructure and rolling equipment. Six participating manufacturers delivered their goods to the loading ports, from where they were transported to the warehouse of the destination region via waterways. From that warehouse, the goods were taken to their final destination by the clients.


  • Wholesalers and manufacturers of building materials: Transport over water is faster than road transport and a higher volume can be transported at once. There are less mobility issues.
  • End-user: Less trucks on the road, which reduces congestion and minimizes noise pollution.


The project team organized twelve trial runs with a total of 12,000 tons of building materials on board. Experiments were done with different types of products, and routes via different waterways were taken. Additionally, Smart Mobility analyzed the flows of building materials in Flanders, based on existing studies and data available in the sector. We also researched where in Flanders such centers should be opened. This provided us with an insight into the positive effects the mobility system can have when it is upscaled to a larger region.

As a consequence of these results, Smart Mobility conducted an analysis for the project Distribouw, in August 2013, as requested by De Vlaamse Waterweg.

This project had the financial support of the agency for innovation and entrepreneurship

Register for our newsletter

Receive updates for the topic of your choice.

Learn More
Sara bastiaensens phd

A question about this project?

Function Senior researcher at the expertise center “Next Generation Work”
Sara bastiaensens phd

A question about this project?