How The Freight Industry is Benefiting from Digitalization

Freight Forwarder Digitalization

Innovations are essential to any industry in order for them to thrive, evolve, and meet continually changing consumer expectations. With more and more disruptive companies entering the global market, the general consumer is becoming increasingly familiar with convenience and efficiency. They expect a product to not only provide value, but just as importantly, they expect it to arrive quickly and at the best price available online.

With rapid-fire deliveries being a demand, rather than a simple desire, the freight industry is undergoing some serious changes and innovations to make it happen. One of the most significant innovations is the digitalization of freight forwarding processes. New startups have the ability to shake up the playing field for both shippers and freight forwarders. Unbound by the old ways of thinking, these new companies can hit the ground running. This is a good thing for innovation as it allows flexibility, creativity, and competitiveness within the industry which can benefit traditional companies significantly.

“It’s because they’re addressing pain points that affect everyone in their industry. In the marketplace of ideas, innovation often yields maximum benefit to all stakeholders: businesses, consumers, and investors. So if you ever hear, ‘That’s the way it’s always been’ as a reason for why an industry operates as it does, you can safely guess a startup is coming along with a major innovation in tow.” says CoLoadX.

“The logic is simple: if innovators like Amazon, Convoy, Transfix, and others are focused on solving “last-mile” delivery problems, then it’s obvious that someone is going to have to solve the “first-mile” problems of logistics,” they added.  Shippers and manufacturers need to get their product out quickly. Not only does this require a more efficient supply chain, but it also creates a happier end customer. Take a look at the European construction companies, for example. Their supply chains have been changing and, more than ever, they need to have access to materials in a timely manner to do their jobs. They don’t necessarily have the luxury of waiting for a truck to come whenever available to deliver materials.

Bottling companies and breweries also bring about different challenges. Beer needs to be shipped carefully to avoid spoilage. Retailers need to be able to send back expired bottles to ensure freshness.  Therefore, with today’s technology, logistic service providers can help companies track such sensitive activities quicker, more efficiently, and without incurring high costs.

Industry Pain Points

In order for the industry to run more efficiently, addressing pain points are essential. Digital solutions enable traditional freight forwarders to address some of the industry’s troubles and help their customers perform more efficiently. Some of these pain points include:

  • Time and money lost on brokering capacity and rates
  • Manage peak seasons
  • Finding carriers for orders that their trusted carrier network is unable to cover

This is, of course, by no means an exhaustive list. There are a number of industry-wide pain points such as visibility, flexibility, and agility that will always need to be improved upon!

Merging the Old and the New

It might seem like the disruptive digital companies, are out to wipe out the traditional forwarder, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. After all, with the rise of freight forwarding, it will stand to reason that business will be easier to drum up. In fact, InstaFreight was specifically designed to fix the above pain points and create smoother processes in a sensitive and logistically focused industry.  

  • Traditional freight forwarders can find extra capacity whenever they need 24/7
  • May capitalize on technologies’ miscalculation of freight rates and access well-paying jobs
  • May find loads to better utilize their trusted carrier network
  • Can step into new businesses such as B2B or B2C consolidated cargo movements
  • Can utilize extended consolidated cargo network
  • Improve customer satisfaction by using high tech technologies to better track and trace deliveries
  • Can pass on/enjoy benefits such as payment of invoices within 72hrs

InstaFreight’s solution provides the much-needed visibility in all freight movements. It also takes on the administrative tasks that are involved allowing businesses to focus on their core business, serving their customers.

Redefining European Road Freight – Consolidating Freight

Consolidating Freight

According to the Eurostat office, in terms of tonne-kilometers, the European road freight transport market was at its highest point in 2015 since the 2012 decline. The market increased 2.2% from 2014 and is expected to gain additional growth in 2016 and 2017 because of improving economic conditions and the growth of e-commerce.

The Changing European Road Freight Market

However, as noted by Hans-Jorg Hager, former board member of DB Schenker at the 2015 DVZ-Cargo Symposium, “One-way traffic and part charters are increasing. This makes it difficult to find profitable opportunities for solid, comprehensive production networks.” While Mr. Hager was speaking in reference to the one-way utilization of trucks, it is an issue all road transport providers face throughout Europe, and as a result, customers are impacted by unnecessary high rates and extended delivery times.

As such, freight providers are optimizing traditional hub and spoke networks to one that includes various bundling concepts across Europe in order to create a Pan-European network. Ewald Kaiser, Chief Land Transport for Schenker AG observed at the 2015 DVZ-Cargo Symposium that the cargo industry was in a ‘sandwich position’ between the parcel business and part load networks. He said, “Volumes are moving increasingly in neighboring countries and niche markets.”

Indeed, business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) deliveries are colliding for freight providers. Groupage and logistics provider, Cargoline has observed this change. According to its managing director, Jorn Peter Struck, B2C deliveries now represents 12% of his company’s business and continues to rise. However, B2C shipments often cause more effort. On average, freight providers have to call 1.5 to 2 times per shipment only to make a delivery appointment.

Consolidating Freight

As freight providers invest in network optimization, one option for businesses to consider is freight consolidation. A practice that’s been around for quite some-time; however, due to lack of visibility in shipments and labor-intensive processes it has not been a viable option for some businesses.

The idea of consolidating freight is the distribution of various orders, typically from businesses with several orders per day, which are destined to numerous destination points in a particular geographic region. Within a consolidated load, one customer may have a single pallet whereas another may have five pallets that need to be delivered within a geographic region all on the same truck.

In general, consolidated freight ensures not only a full truckload, and thus reduced rates for shippers, but it also reduces the overhead expenses at a hub by leveraging fully equipped cross-dock facilities. In addition, this process also helps to reduce carbon footprints resulting in fewer trucks on the road and less fuel being consumed.

How InstaFreight Helps

InstaFreight’s solution provides the much-needed visibility in consolidated freight movements. Also, InstaFreight takes on the administrative tasks that are involved allowing businesses to focus on their core services.

The B2B process starts with booking shipments via InstaFreight with the order going to one of the company’s strategic partners, such as Cargoline. InstaFreight is digitally integrated with its strategic partner to ensure  no delays. The consolidated cargo network’s trucks are dispatched to pick up the pallets to take to a hub. At the hubs, the pallets are then consolidated with others and are transported to depots for final mile delivery. As a result, orders are processed and delivered through optimized lead times while providing reliable communications to the end customer.

Furthermore, as noted, visibility throughout the delivery process is provided through InstaFreight’s track and trace tool. Lastly, businesses are assured that the over 3,500 freight carrier partners of InstaFreight are vetted and meet the high standards that InstaFreight has set forth.

The service is available anywhere in Germany and many parts of the EU. To find out more how consolidating freight can benefit your business, contact InstaFreight at

Why Fuel Consumption Reduction Technologies Are Going Unused

Fuel Consumption Reduction Technologies

It is a fact that passenger vehicles significantly outnumber the amount of trucks on the road. However, it is the trucks that make up the bulk of CO2 emissions. Given that these trucks are responsible for moving a majority of the freight to its final destination around the world, we have taken it to be something of a necessary evil.

Yet with new environmental policies aimed at curbing these greenhouse gas emissions going into effect, as well as the need for the average forwarder spending upwards of 32,000 € per year/per truck, it would seem that new technologies to improve fuel efficiency and reduce consumption would need to be developed. However, there are several such technologies already developed and on the market, the problem is, they are just sitting on the shelf.

The Reasons

Fleet fuel bills can be cut by as much as 5,700 €  per year by implementing these new technologies, according to a report from Transportation and Environment.

The study says, there are a number of different ways to boost efficiency. Many of them being left untouched, leaving a lot of untapped potentials to save money for trucking companies. Part of the issue is that it is simply cost prohibitive for many small trucking companies. While the technologies would eventually provide a solid ROI, many businesses feel uncomfortable investing in them due to high initial costs. Turbo compounding is just one example. Despite the fact that it can reduce fuel consumption by upwards of 3 percent per truck, less than 0.24 percent of new trucks are produced with a turbo-compound engine.

Another example is low resistance tires. According to MICHELIN, the fitment of these tires allows hauliers to save up to 1 liter of fuel per 100 km (a reduction of 2.66 kg of CO2 emitted over the same distance). It represents an average fuel saving of €1,610 during the first life of the tire. To put it in other terms, 20 percent of fuel consumption is based solely on overcoming rolling resistance. That equates to one tank for every five filled. The shocking truth is that low resistance tires are only seeing a 1 percent market penetration, despite being able to be retrofitted on existing vehicles.

In addition to the upfront costs, some other reasons are hindering the uptake and utilization of fuel reduction technology. In some cases, fleet owners simply do not have enough information on the product to understand its full use and function. Combined with a low utilization rate across Europe, the market cost remains prohibitively high.

Alternative Solutions

So if the technology remains blocked by market forces, what else can be done? After all, CO2 reduction compliance is on the horizon and will need to be addressed before companies start facing fines and penalties. In the interim, there is some solution that businesses can utilize now that will help raise efficiency while reducing costs.

Raising Rates

As we talked about it in one of our recent posts, increasing prices would force companies to think more about their logistics and how they utilize their assets. If business slackens, the increased pricing will provide a safety net for the trucking companies. Conversely, companies who are improving their logistics would find that there are more opportunities to make money, whether it be through fuel reduction technologies, improved efficiency of staff or better planning of truck movements.

Utilizing a TMS

Transportation Management Systems (TMS) are a very effective way of improving logistics. Not only does it provide actionable data to reduce dead hauls and empty trucks, but it can improve the supply chain overall. When using a TMS paired with a freight forwarder, it removes a number of concerns that a trucking company would ordinarily have to deal with on their own. Payment, for example, can be an exasperating process for a trucking company as shippers prefer to pay after they have made their money on the freight. For a trucking company, having to wait to get paid on a job ties up capital that can be better spent elsewhere. Using a digital freight forwarder that ensures the trucking company gets paid in hours instead of months means that the trucking company can spend less time arguing and more time getting the job done.

How InstaFreight Can Help

It is true that TMS technology and digitalization of freight forwarding businesses will never actually reduce a truck’s fuel consumption. What it will do, however, is make a trucking company smarter about how it operates.

We at InstaFreight have taken it a step further. We digitalized the management of road freight transportation. The technology matches freight with readily available capacity. As a result, it reduces empty running, trucks emissions and increases efficiency for both haulier and shipper. What used to take a considerable amount of time and phone calls can now be done with just a few clicks.

Find out more about how InstaFreight can help improve your logistics and save you both time and money.

Digitalizing The Freight Industry Will Improve Efficiency

digital transport days - Digitalizing The Freight Industry Will Improve Efficiency

As other industries advanced and became more efficient by putting many of their major processes online, the trucking industry seemed to get left behind. As a result, it began to feel outdated and abandoned at least until recent years.

Nowadays, with innovations developed by companies like InstaFreight to digitize the process of managing road freight, the entire trucking industry is getting a new breath of fresh, modern air.

Digital Transport Days

On November 8th through November 10th, 2017 you are invited to join the Digital Transport Days conference in Tallin, Estonia.

Estonia with its code writers and entrepreneurs are behind the creation of companies such as Skype, Hotmail, or the PayPal competitor TransferWise. They have developed and are offering digital solutions for all; businesses, public services, and citizens. It is good to know that according to The Economist, Estonia holds the world record in start-ups per person. Undoubtedly, it is an excellent place to look for a fresh take on digitizing in the freight industry.

The Digital Transport Days Conference is being held by the European Commission, the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG Move). The purpose of this conference is to discuss and discover potential solutions to major issues facing the transportation industry for passengers and freight. By going digital, these industries could become safer, more sustainable, and more efficient.

Read on to take a look at the steps that InstaFreight are taking and what they have already done.

InstaFreight’s Innovative Leaps 

InstaFreight is a digital forwarding company for B2B shippers. The company’s digital solution provides the ability to quickly and efficiently process road freight transports. Their innovative solutions take the complexity out of supply chains and provide time-saving, cost-effective solutions for both shippers and carriers.

The freight industry faces challenges such as major driver and reliable capacity shortage, as well as fluctuating rates. Many truckers find driving to be an undesirable occupation due to solitude on the road, unpaid waiting times, and a staggering length of time it takes for trucking companies to receive payment. Digitizing the management of road freight transportation could quickly improve, if not solve these issues. 

Finding capacity, booking, tracking, and monitoring shipments across Europe can be extremely time-consuming. However, InstaFreight makes shipping by road much easier by empowering shippers to handle all of these processes online. InstaFreight is providing a 24/7 freight matching online platform. Once the shippers have entered their shipping requirements, algorithms calculate the most competitive rates and match readily available capacity with their freights in seconds.

The online solution also creates price transparency and eliminates hidden costs. An important aspect of road freight transportation is tracking. While the shipment is in transit, shippers can track their freight in real time and stay updated on their location and delivery status. To help carriers remain on the top of their cash-flow management, InstaFreight guarantees that carriers are paid within 72 hours after completing their delivery. A sizable improvement compared to current market trends of 90 days or more.

InstaFreight’s solution and business model proves that digitalization of road transportation improves working conditions, provides greater efficiency, and transparency. Matching drivers with loads, specific to their trucks and locations, reduces waiting time, empty running, increase profits and create majors savings for both shippers and carriers.

Across Europe, there are many different cultures with different regulations and languages making it difficult to work with other nations unless you work with a digital solution. Bilingual platforms and set workflows facilitate shippers and carriers to collaborate. Digital solutions break cultural barriers and reduce time spent on the phone because everything can be quickly and easily managed online.

Other Issues Facing The Freight Industry

Beyond improving operational efficiency, there are other challenges in the industry that need to be faced. It needs to become safer and greener to protect the environment.

InstaFreight has made the first steps with the digitization of booking processes and replacing paper with electronic documents. As a result, the amount of wasted materials within the industry was greatly reduced. Our efforts and results were recently acknowledged, and the team was presented with the Prestigious Eco-Performance 2017 Award.

Click here to read more about our services or contact us for a quick demo.



Bottled Logistics – The Supply Chain of Bottling Companies

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From Pilsners to pale ales; blonds to bocks; and all shades in between, the beer industry is growing at a heady pace. Craft breweries are popping up around the world, each offering something a little different and unique from their competition. Of course, the more offerings a brewer has, the more logistics challenges they’ll face as well.

Unlike most other supply chains, the supply chain of breweries and bottling companies have some very specific challenges to contend with. The physical aspect of shipping alone can be a challenge when you consider the fragile nature of a carbonated bottle. This means having the right packaging in place to avoid breakage and wastes, and heavy shipments to make the most of the actual transportation (weight out vs. cube out.)

If you consider the back end side of things, the logistics becomes even more complicated. Expiration dates need to be tracked and communicated by all retailers and re-sellers to ensure that only the freshest beer is coming home for consumption. Born by dates need to be followed in the warehouse for good product rotation and the aging process. What about peak demand seasons such as holidays? Seasonal rotations and other beer offerings? With every different bottle, another step to monitor and track gets added to the list of challenges facing the brewer and even more transportation challenges on top of that.  

Brewing Competition

In addition to the logistics challenges, there is also fierce competition between small breweries and bottling companies vying for shelf space against the giants of the industry who’ve had considerably more time to assert their control over the market.

A survey commissioned by McHugh Software, Thompson Associates and Symbol Technologies shows that the supply chain for the beverage industry is not only evolving, but the need for better distribution and transportation are also evident.

“The results clearly show an industry in transition. The supply chain paradigm is changing, having a significant impact on process, technology and investment. It is driving a whole new generation of logistics software applications in such areas as supply chain visibility and event management, on-line metrics and scorecard systems, available-to-promise and capable-to-deliver technology, and applications for collaboration with key trading partners and logistics service providers,” says Supply Chain Market.

“The survey results show that most food and beverage executives have made adoption of these new supply chain processes and the corresponding investment in new technologies a strategic priority. Yet, the need to maintain a focus on operating cost reduction and functional excellence in such areas, distribution and transportation were also evident,” they added.

Consider how the supply chain is shifting and evolving, then consider the resources of a long term domestic brewing giant versus a small company. The difference is a stark contrast, a David vs. Goliath battle of the hops. This means that small time breweries need to take every advantage they can to keep themselves competitive while cutting costs as much as possible.

Strategies for Success

Back in 2009, the Manufacturing Performance Institute (MPI) surveyed over 2,500 manufacturers in the food and beverage industry in order to identify key strategies that would sustain growth in the future and allow them to outperform their competition.

The first three of these strategies were simple enough, be good to your customer base. Hire and retain talent and a strong labor force, and deliver a superior product, all three of which are a given. However, it’s the last three on the list that require some special attention. They are as follows:

  • Supply-chain management and collaboration: Develop and manage supply chains and partnerships that provide flexibility, response time, and delivery performance that exceed the competition.
  • Green/sustainability: Design and implement waste and energy-use reductions at a level that provides superior cost performance and recognizable customer value
  • Global engagement: Secure business advantages by having people, partnerships, and systems in place capable of engaging global markets and talents better than the competition.

While all three of these seem to be very different goals, they all work in tandem and they all center, at least in part, around having the right TMS in place. Beer delivery is perhaps one of the most susceptible supply chains to rigidity, it needs to be able to flow, change, and adapt quicker and faster to meet demand and work within the lifespan of the beer. Through a more efficient supply chain/ transportation network, both brewers and bottlers can operate more sustainable (green) while engaging in a broader market. In short, having the right transportation solution and transportation capacity are key to breweries and bottling companies who want to be successful and competitive in today’s market.

More than A to B: How InstaFreight Can Help

Whether gathering with friends, celebrating a holiday, or just enjoying the end of a long day, craft beers have earned their place in the hearts of drinkers all around the world. It’s the dedication and love that goes into brewing the perfect beer that makes it so unique and special and it’s that very same dedication and love that We at InstaFreight bring to your company.

Transportation is key to a successfully running supply chain and therefore a successful business. But trying to manage transportation, especially in something so tentative and delicate as a brewery needs the same level of dedication that you put into your craft.

We at InstaFreight have digitalized the process of booking transportation. Just point and click. No more rate negotiations, hassle, or back and forth.  With InstaFreight’s vetted carriers you won’t have to worry about truck availability or time spent on negotiating rates. Instead, InstaFreight manages the carrier relationship for you, ensuring reliability as well as availability. In fact, we take it a step further and provide guaranteed availability. Furthermore, competitive shipping rates are determined via InstaFreight’s innovative algorithms that are fair to both you and carrier. Lastly, InstaFreight also handles all carrier payments.

We make the process simple so you can focus on what you do best: Brewing Good Beer.

Clarification Over EU Weekly Rest Rules

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In order to protect the health and well being of truck drivers, there is a set of driver rest rules with the goal of avoiding distortion of competition, improving road safety and ensuring drivers’ good working conditions within the European Union.

According to the European Mobility and Transportation Commission website, these rules set a “maximum daily and fortnightly driving times, as well as daily and weekly minimum rest periods for all drivers of road haulage and passenger transport vehicles, subject to specified exceptions and national derogations,” which will extend to all facets of commercial transportation.  

These rules, as they were written back in February, establish that:

  • The daily driving period shall not exceed 9 hours, with an exemption of twice a week when it can be extended to 10 hours.
  • Total weekly driving time may not exceed 56 hours and the total fortnightly driving time may not exceed 90 hours.
  • Daily rest period shall be at least 11 hours, with an exception of going down to 9 hours maximum three times a week. Daily rest can be split into 3-hour rest followed by 9-hour rest to make a total of 12 hours daily rest
  • Weekly rest is 45 continuous hours, which can be reduced every second week to 24 hours. Compensation arrangements apply for the reduced weekly rest period. Weekly rest is to be taken after six days of working, except for coach drivers engaged in a single occasional service of international transport of passengers who may postpone their weekly rest period after 12 days in order to facilitate coach holidays.
  • Breaks of at least 45 minutes (separable into 15 minutes followed by 30 minutes) should be taken after 4 ½ hours at the latest.

Ideally, these regulations would make for better working and living conditions for drivers and lend to their personal safety as well as the safety of those on the road around them.

Necessary Clarifications

One of the more necessary clarifications to these regulations is that drivers must take their rest period outside of the cab! This means that employers would be obligated to provide lodging for drivers (such as a hotel room) with access to individual sanitary facilities and hot meals.

“In 2015 the ETF wrote to EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc, claiming that allowing drivers to take their weekly rest in a truck cab was in breach of EU rules. It said long rest breaks in the truck’s cab placed compliant road transport operators in a “disadvantaged situation”, and exposed drivers to poor living conditions,” according to Commercial Motor.

Fines and penalties for violating the cab/rest rules are also in need of some clarification. “Some EU countries are strongly enforcing this interpretation of the rules and imposing heavy fines. Others, including the UK, are not enforcing the weekend cab break ban, although that is set to change,” says Commercial Motor.

When it comes to financial penalties for violating this ruling, there isn’t much of a set standard. In Belgium and France, the ruling is enforced with stiff fines of more than €1,800 while the UK seems to be much more lenient on exacting punishment for any hauliers in violation of the cab/rest ruling. According to CM the DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency) planning to introduce a £300 (€330) fine if drivers are found taking a break in their cab.

There is some concern about the ruling as it currently stands. Trucking companies are worried about the additional cost accrued by having to house drivers, while others see it as a boon to reduce the amount of foreign drivers that undercut the market.

However, as the EC is planning on making some changes to the rest rules, there are some rumblings which are leading to some considerable backlash, especially with the European Transport Workers Federation (ETF).

Unchecked Regulations

“The European Commission Mobility Package proposes a number of amendments to the driving and rest time rules (Regulation (EC) No 561/2006) and to the ‘smart’ tachograph regulation (Regulation (EU) 165/2014).  The proposed changes to the driving and rest time have never been subject to any consultation process in the past 3 years. Hence, their significant negative impact on road and passenger safety, as well as on pay, working and living conditions of bus, coach and truck professional drivers. Hence, the havoc caused by these proposals among drivers, feeding into people’s distrust in the European social project,” the ETF said in early June.

So what’s the problem? Ultimately it comes down to where a lot of European trucking companies are sourcing their drivers from. Many companies have been using imported labor from other countries to help keep their labor costs significantly lower. The problem with the rest rule is that it would cause a spike in labor costs, something which many trucking companies aren’t too keen on.

rest rules instafreight 120x300 - Clarification Over EU Weekly Rest Rules
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Additionally, the EC has also proposed a restructuring of the rest periods from a time frame of two weeks to four. With that sort of time period, all of the drive time could be stacked in the first few weeks of the month, forcing drivers to work a 16-day stretch with only two days of rest before hand.

“The proposed changes in the driving and rest time rules will negatively impact all professional drivers, no matter what part of Europe they come from. They will impact on fatigue levels, on work-life balance, and on drivers’ pockets,” says the ETF.

As it stands, the ETF and the EC are at odds with the current state of the Rest ruling. With some fairly obvious loopholes and lack of consultation for new proposals, it can be easy to see why. While the ETF is fighting against the new amendments, there is still a lot of room for concern when it comes to driving conditions for European drivers.

Navigating the Changes

Since the proposed changes will affect drivers’ productivity for shippers, it will become crucial to have access, not to a larger number of carriers but a larger pool of available trucking capacity to keep freight moving in a timely manner. Fortunately for shippers, we here at InstaFreight can do just that.

Unlike traditional freight forwarding companies, we at InstaFreight have built the technology for shippers which connects them to an expansive network of drivers throughout Europe. As a result, shippers have instant access to freight capacity 24/7. With our simple, click and buy experience and instant pricing, finding trucking capacity and booking freight has never been easier. We put the power of smart logistics and easy booking, at shippers’ fingertips.

Check out our website to learn more on how we can help shippers and carriers efficiently book and track road freight shipments. Also, be sure to follow the latest updates on our Twitter and LinkedIn page.

Hitting the Electric Highway

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Combating climate change and CO2 emissions are becoming a larger focus for governments, and therefore trucking companies, around the world. While there are significantly more passenger and non-commercial vehicles on the road than there are semis and tractor trailers, it’s the freight hauling trucks that contribute the most to CO2 emissions.

With that being said, there are a number of different approaches being made to curb the emissions problem. Some companies are looking to make their vehicles more efficient, whether it be through drag (air current) reduction or other improvements. A bigger step would be to move away from diesel and petrol and switch to clean burning biofuels. However, one of the biggest goals to clean running trucks is to make the switch over to electric. Electric vehicles have certainly been a target for skepticism in the past, mainly that an electric truck can’t haul as much weight and has a shorter operating radius which would limit it to mostly urban deliveries. Unless Siemens’ eHighway concept proves fruitful, that is.

The eHighway

The concept behind Siemens eHighway would reduce the concern of both the light payload and the short range of operation. The eHighway, which is scheduled for trial next year, would utilize a 10km overhead contact line above the A5 Autobahn which would provide a continuous source of energy for trucks as they drive down the roadway.

“The system is based on an intelligent pantograph mounted on the roof of trucks to collect power and an onboard hybrid drive system. Trucks equipped with the system will run emission-free on electricity from the overhead line, automatically switching to their hybrid engine on other roads,” according to Automotive Logistics.

“Construction of the system will demonstrate the feasibility of integrating overhead contact systems with a public highway,” said Gerd Riegelhuth, head of transport at Hessen Mobil. “The system will be used for real transport networks and prove the practicality of climate-neutral freight transport in the urban region of Frankfurt,” Riegelhuth added.

The system will be installed on the A5 Autobahn between the Zeppelinheim/Cargo City Süd interchange at Frankfurt Airport and the Darmstadt/Weiterstadt interchange.

Opening Possibilities

Reduced CO2 is just one of the many benefits that comes from having electric trucks with a consistent power source. While still drivers will operate these trucks, it’s not a far stretch to consider the next step to be making the vehicles automated. Autonomous vehicles, specifically freight trucks aren’t exactly a new concept, as there has been a few trial runs around the world so far, but it does bring the possibility a step closer to being a reality.

Autonomous trucks can make some significant milestones to the industry when it comes to safety, reliability, and efficiency, but there is still some concern about the human element, namely the amount of jobs that will be lost if trucks no longer need a driver.

“A new joint report issued by four European transport groups estimates that between 2 million to 4.4 million truck driving jobs in the U.S. and Europe could become “redundant” and thus be eliminated in just 13 years of efforts aimed at widely deploying self-driving commercial vehicles are successful,” says an early post from Fleet Owner.

The move towards total autonomy, both in terms of an alternative fuel source, as well as the reduction of human labor, would have a significant impact on the trucking industry. As labor costs make up anywhere between 35 to 45 percent of transportation costs, automated trucking would create tremendous costs saving potential for trucking companies, not to mention the reduction of fuel costs as well as the boost to efficiency.

Electric Provides a Leg Up for Last Mile Logistics

We’ve said it before, but it bears mentioning again, electric trucks will be instrumental when it comes to handling last mile deliveries. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to the last mile aspect of deliveries is that it’s often in a congested urban area. During the day, traffic volumes are much higher which means that larger trucks can’t move about as freely. At night, noise ordinances prohibit freedom of movement for large trucks throughout the city. With an electric truck, however, you have a vehicle that makes next to no noise, has almost no emissions and, if it’s driverless, can operate at any hour of the day. This would create the perfect scenario for deliveries to be made around the clock and allow for shippers and carriers to both make the most of the day (or night.)

It will be the culmination of both alternative fuel sources and the automation of the vehicle that will completely change the nature of the freight and logistics industry. What might have seemed like little more than a futuristic dream is on the verge of becoming a very real possibility, and sooner than we might expect.

Ukraine’s Automotive Revival РAs Recovery Increases So Will Demand

automotive logistics InstaFreight 2 - Ukraine’s Automotive Revival - As Recovery Increases So Will Demand

After a three year slump, it seems like the automotive market in Ukraine is finally starting to bounce back. According to the latest figures for the first half of 2017, the number of passenger cars sold has jumped up by as much as 36 percent for a total of 35,700. Ukratuprom, the Ukrainian automotive industry association, is confident that they will reach as many as 90,000 vehicles sold by the end of the year.

While this number pales in comparison to the 2012 sales peak of 217,000 vehicles, the rebound is very promising for the automotive industry, especially when considering the difficulties the country has faced in the recent past which put the country into an economic tailspin. Now that the dust has settled it would seem that regrowth and rebuilding of the industry are already under way. The Ukrainian government is even going so far as to remove duties for imported components as well as other concessions that will help to speed the rebound along.

As Recovery Increases So Will Demand

The automotive rebound has come back with such vigor that the logistics industry is having a hard time keeping up, not a bad problem to have to be sure.

“Transport companies were completely unprepared for this increased demand,” according to an article from Automotive Logistics. “In the last three years, the automotive carrier fleet has decreased by about three times, as many companies simply have not survived the crisis.”

As sales and manufacturing volume increases, so will the demand for logistics, specifically in transporting components from the EU into Ukrainian manufacturing facilities. Given the drop in logistics and transportation capacity, this will prove to be a fantastic opportunity for companies who want to get on the ground floor of a rapidly (re)growing market.

“In 2017-2018, most likely there will be synergies between various participants of the automotive logistics chain in the form of joint ventures and investments of carmakers in transport companies with automotive carriers; first, because carmakers are interested in [stimulating] rising distribution of their car brands in Ukraine as well as improving quality of this distribution.”

Trade Flows Both Ways

In addition to the positive future for vehicle production, there are even more opportunities for logistics. While vehicle production might have dropped off, Ukraine has long been held as a promising site for component production and a lot of big players in the automotive industry such as Daimler, BMW, and Volkswagen, have plans to build more production facilities on the western border to better expand their distribution radius.

With the addition of new construction facilities, export trade from the EU to Ukraine and vice versa will be seeing a significant boost and, as expected, will benefit from an increase in logistics services to continue to facilitate transportation.

How InstaFreight Can Help

Managing logistics can be a very delicate and time-consuming process, one of the biggest reason why freight forwarders exist. So what do you do when you’re trying to take advantage of a boom in production? You take advantage of a digital freight forwarder that’s on the leading edge of technology. Instafreight specializes in a quick and easy digital booking platform. Why waste precious time digging for a transportation quote and available capacity when you can have them both in seconds. Click, book, ship, and manage your shipments online. InstaFreight makes it that easy.  


Timely Deliveries in Europe’s Construction Industry

EU Construction 1 - Timely Deliveries in Europe's Construction Industry

The European construction market is gaining strength which is good news for a segment that represents 9% of the European Union’s overall GDP. According to the recent 83rd Euroconstruct conference, European construction output is expected to expand by 2.5% in 2016 – 0.5% stronger than was expected six months ago. This is thanks to improving economic signs. For the short-term outlook, output in the construction industry is expected to grow 8% from 2016 to 2018.

By segment, residential construction is expected to expand by 5% in 2016 and moderate to 1.7% by 2019. In fact, new residential building permits issued in Germany increased by more than 20% in 2016 because of a growing population, increased job security and record-low borrowing costs. German construction industry associations expect sales to rise by 5% this year to hit the highest level since 1995, following growth of 5.8% in 2016. Meanwhile, Europe’s non-residential construction is expected to grow 2.3% for 2017 and 1.2% for 2019.

The European Construction Market

This is all positive news for an industry that makes up three million enterprises and has a total direct workforce of 18 million people according to the European Builders Confederation. Indeed, a number of large companies such as BauXpert Hoba GmbH, Mutanox GmbH and Haltec Hallensysteme GmbH are a part of the large European construction industry. But did you know that 99.9% of the European construction sector is composed of small and medium-sized enterprises (less than 250 employees)?

Importance of the Supply Chain

Indeed, with so many businesses involved, the supply chain becomes even more important to ensure contractors receive supplies in a timely manner to keep the construction work going without interruption. Take for example the movement of heavy supplies such as reinforced iron bars and steel beams, these items require special handling, loading and unloading as well as installation. Any delays and/or damage can incur additional costs, damage claims and loss of reputation for suppliers. To ensure the process is seamless as possible, coordination with delivery carriers is extremely important. But, with the revival of the construction industry, capacity and rates can be a concern. Specialized carriers can be scarce and the time spent locating a reliable carrier at an agreed upon rate can further be time consuming and thus put construction projects at risk for delays.

InstaFreight to the Rescue

InstaFreight’s award winning freight management solution can ease the minds of many construction suppliers. Shippers are able to utilize InstaFreight’s vetted carriers 24/7 while not having to worry about truck availability or time spent on negotiating rates. Instead, InstaFreight manages the carrier relationship ensuring reliability as well as availability. In fact, we take it a step further and provide guaranteed availability. Furthermore, rates are determined via InstaFreight’s innovative algorithms that are fair to both shipper and carrier. Lastly, InstaFreight handles all carrier payments so shippers can focus on and manage their core business.


Improving The Efficiency of Road-Freight Transport Is Critical

0807 European trucking  - Improving The Efficiency of Road-Freight Transport Is Critical

Efficiency is top of mind for all industries however within the road freight market, maintaining efficient operations while abiding by tighter and tighter environmental regulations can prove difficult and often requires costly financial investments.

However, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) latest report, The Future of Trucks: Implications for Energy and the Environment, indicates that improving the efficiency of road-freight transport is critical to reducing the growth in oil demand, carbon emissions and air pollution over the next few decades. In fact, according to the report, trucks account for almost a fifth of global oil demand or around 17 million barrels per day. Ouch.

Indeed, among the areas, the IEA highlights is the improvement of logistics and systems operations. This includes such measures as using a global positioning system to optimize truck routing, as well as real-time feedback devices that monitor the on-road fuel economy of trucks.

Route Optimization

European trucking infographic 410x1024 - Improving The Efficiency of Road-Freight Transport Is CriticalOptimizing truck routes can help increase the volume or weight of cargo transported which in turn improves the truck load for each trip. It also reduces the number of trips during which trucks run empty after having delivered the goods. Along with the reduction of trips and thus reduce fuel use, route optimization also helps minimize vehicle wear and tear and mitigate exposure risk, which in turn has an impact on violations, accidents, and insurance premiums.

By optimizing truck routes, businesses have also been able to reassign staff that previously spent hours of computer time to “crunch” the numbers and develop routes for the fleet’s drivers. Instead, these folks can focus more on customer-facing tasks.

Click here to enlarge the infographic

Monitoring and Improving On-Road Fuel Economy

A number of technology solutions are available that reduce the amount of engine idling to providing power for cabs and those that reduce aerodynamic drag. Additionally, there are others that decrease rolling resistance of the tires and some that improve powertrain performance.

Improving the design of the truck for better aerodynamics and improved energy is another means of improving efficiency. An extreme example is Navistar’s CatallST Super Truck project estimated at $7 million. A joint project with the US’ Department of Energy to boost freight efficiency by 50 percent. The result of the project found that CatalIST achieved fuel efficiency of 13 mpg and demonstrated 50.3 percent brake thermal efficiency (BTE) and a path toward 55 percent BTE. The first goal of achieving this was to reduce the weight of the truck. Over 2,000 pounds was removed from the trailer, but 1,500 pounds was added back through aerodynamic devices such as slotted skirts, a boat tail, gap treatment and 48-volt solar panels. Also, 2,300 pounds were removed from the scales on the truck. The skirts and hood were carbon-fiber, and the cab was a carbon-fiber skin over the steel structure of an LT tractor. The windows and windshield were replaced with polycarbonate, which is lighter and stronger than glass.

Next, the team set out to improve the aerodynamics of the truck by adding a boat tail that extended below the underride guard and serves as an extension of the skirts at the rear of the truck. Furthermore, the segmented Wabash trailer skirts flare inward as they reach the end of the trailer. Lastly, mirrors were replaced with exterior cameras and interior pillar-mounted monitors.

In previous blogs, we’ve highlighted platooning, in which trucks are electronically-linked.  The interest in platooning is on the rise in particular as fuel represents a large percentage of operating costs for trucking companies.  A Dutch research firm TNO notes in a white paper on the topic that each truck in a platoon uses on average 10 percent less fuel per journey.

How InstaFreight Can Help

“InstaFreight is a convenient solution for both shippers and carriers. The average utilization level of a carrier today is about 70%. With InstaFreight, we built a one-stop shop for road freight cargo. Besides optimized utilization, transparency and cost savings, carriers also benefit from the fast payment processing.” – Philipp Ortwein, co-founder of InstaFreight.

Indeed, the trucking industry is facing many challenges including declines in the number of drivers and fluctuating rates. Our solution provides 24/7 available freight capacities at fixed rates. The fixed rates are determined by the use of algorithms that calculates the optimum market rate.

InstaFreight’s solution allows shippers to coordinate and schedule truck shipments more efficiently. Shippers can book shipments from carriers that have already been vetted in terms of service levels, capabilities, and insurance. For carriers, an app has been created and provides a useful tool for load availability and payment solutions.