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Flanders’ logistics ecosystem

Find out more about Flanders’ finely-tuned ecosystem of organizations dedicated to logistics know-how, research, and more.

By setting up an activity in Flanders, you gain access to a close-knit business and knowledge ecosystem for your logistics company. How? By benefiting from Flanders’ prime location, excellent infrastructure and dense network of nearly 800 European Distribution Centers.

Flanders’ seaports: vital economic gateways

With the seaports of Antwerp, Ghent, Zeebrugge and Ostend, Flanders has perfect ocean-going gateways for the fast handling of all kinds of goods to and from anywhere in the world. 

Port of Antwerp

The Port of Antwerp is Europe’s second largest port for international shipping traffic and the fourth largest port in the world. It’s Europe’s major petrochemical pipeline hub and most extensive chemical center. In addition, Antwerp has the world’s biggest storage site for coffee.

North Sea Port Ghent

North Sea Port Ghent is a leading European player in the fruit juice and bio-energy sectors. Its location offers a variety of modern and specialized distribution and logistics centers in close proximity to the automotive, paper, ro-ro goods and bio-energy markets.

Port of Zeebrugge

The Port of Zeebrugge is the world’s leading port for the transshipment of new cars. In addition, Zeebrugge is home to one of Europe’s largest gas terminals and a major port for liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports.

Port of Ostend

The Port of Ostend is a small coastal port and has undergone a major transformation in the past 5 years. Ostend has become an international hub for offshore industry. It is also specialized in distributing roll-on roll-off goods and sand/gravel for the building industry.

The world’s densest rail, road and inland waterway networks

Road and rail networks

Flanders’ transport infrastructure features one of the world’s densest road networks, which connects directly with those of France, the Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg, as well with the UK by ferry or the Channel Tunnel. Logistics operations are able to move goods from Flanders to most major European markets by road within 24 hours.

The Belgian railway freight system is modern and highly developed, offering businesses a wide range of tailor-made solutions for goods destined for all parts of Europe. With 127 km of tracks per 100 km2, Flanders boasts one of Europe’s densest rail network. 

Inland waterways

Transport by inland waterways is gaining popularity year after year as a reliable and cost-effective means of moving bulk goods. Belgium and Flanders’ 1,300+ km waterway network is among the most concentrated in Europe. 80% of the companies in Flanders are sited within 10 km of a waterway.

International airports

Brussels Airport

Brussels Airport at Zaventem is consistently ranked one of Europe’s top five freight airports. Brucargo, the 109-hectare logistics zone surrounding the airport, has 31 bays for cargo planes and an airside capacity of 1.5 million tons of goods. For several years in a row, Brussels Airport has been ranked Best Cargo Airport in the world by Air Cargo Week.   

Ostend-Bruges airport

With a 3,200-foot runway, Ostend Airport on the Flanders coast is mainly specialized in outsized cargo, perishables and livestock. The airport is close to a major European freeway and to the seaports of Zeebrugge and Ostend.

Antwerp Airport

Antwerp Airport is used for scheduled and charter flights as well as for business and just-in-time freight transport. 

European Distribution Centers

Despite having a surface area of just 13,522 km², Flanders is home to an impressive portfolio of nearly 800 European Distribution Centers (EDCs). This is equivalent to 5 EDCs for every 100 km².

Cluster and key organizations

The Flanders Institute for Logistics (VIL)

Flanders’ Institute for Logistics (VIL) is the main driving force behind and single point of contact for the new Spearhead Cluster for Logistics of the government of Flanders. This multidisciplinary collaboration between industry and research players will drive focused logistics innovation.

A clear focus

Adopting a long-term approach, the Spearhead Cluster for Logistics will focus on 4 innovation domains:

  • digitization in logistics;
  • Flanders’ logistics gateways;
  • sustainability; 
  • omni-channel retail logistics.

Case 1: NYK Logistics

NYK Logistics is part of the large Japanese shipping group Nippon Yusen Kabushiki Kaisha (NYK Line), which employs 48,000 people worldwide. NYK Logistics is a world leader in fully integrated logistics solutions for shipments by road, sea and air. 

NYK Logistics explored the possibility of importing RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) to support its logistics processes. VIL’s expertise enabled the company to evaluate the applicability of the technology in its own logistics environment.

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