EU FreightTech Platforms Boost Supply Chain

In 2021, the European road freight market was worth EUR372.4 million (£379.7 million), and it is forecast to be worth EUR431.4 million by 2026, according to research by logistics intelligence firm TI Insight. That same research shows that international freight currently accounts for over a third of the total market, a share that is set to increase in the coming years. In the European Union, a customs union means goods of all varieties can move freely between countries without the need for complex import and export licenses and time-consuming border checks.

But beyond the borders of the union, different customs regimes control the flow of road freight. Even within the customs union, managing logistics networks and supply chains can be complicated and involve various national and international freight and delivery partners. Between global cargo shipping and last-mile postal services, coordinating the divergent players involved in a typical supply chain can be a challenge, let alone doing so in the most cost- and fuel-efficient way.

To meet this challenge, a number of tech startups are developing innovative solutions to help freight companies, retailers and warehouse operators streamline their logistics operations. Optimized Logistics TradeLink is a Munich-based startup positioning its platform as an alternative to clunky and time-consuming manual logistics management by automating the coordination of deliveries and pickups.

By allowing partners to book their own time slots and synchronizing all information in real-time, TradeLink eliminates bottlenecks and gives warehouse managers access to the data they need to optimize the whole process. See also: German Supply Chain Platform TradeLink Nets £12.6M in Series A Funding Using a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, the company also provides a range of reporting and data tools that can create greater oversight and transparency into complicated supply chains and logistics networks.

Besides the loading and unloading of trucks, another area that creates friction for freight operators is the EU's patchwork of different road tolls, fuel tax regimes and the legal requirements for driver's rest periods and the associated remuneration. Stepping into this tangle of overlapping regulatory and payment regimes, Czech Republic-based firm Eurowag has developed a solution that aims to help freight companies keep track of the multiple rules and regulations they must comply with. Read more: EU Truck Fleets Tap Digital Platforms to Keep Fuel, Tolls and VAT Payments on the Move

As Tomas Novotny, Eurowag's head of group treasury, told PYMNTS, "It can be very time-consuming to keep track of all of [these rules] and stay compliant [...] but given that we conduct business in most, if not all of [the European] countries, it's easier for us to aggregate that information and then help customers apply those rules." With a fleet management platform and a suite of tools for drivers, including fuel payment cards and onboard units that automatically register tolls across the continent's road networks, Eurowag helps freight managers keep on top of toll payments and value-added tax (VAT) refunds, leaving drivers to focus on the task at hand. Regional Freight Solutions

Despite the fragmented nature of the EU's toll payment and tax regimes, overall, the customs union has been successful in streamlining intracontinental freight logistics. As Eurowag proves, supply chain management and optimizations can benefit from regional insight and a cross-border perspective. In places where technology is yet to catch up with the political reality of international borders, bottlenecks can lead to cascading inefficiencies.

Related: Freight Bottlenecks Spotlight Need for Faster Payments at US-Mexican Border For example, ever since the U.K. left the EU, the Dover-Calais shipping lane has been the cause of continued logistics headaches. Truck drivers have frequently been forced to spend hours in traffic jams without basic amenities, and the British and French authorities seem to be locked in a never-ending blame game that's causing growing diplomatic tension between the two neighbors.

The likes of TradeLink and Eurowag can't solve these problems alone, but they can certainly contribute to the overall efficiency of Europe's freight networks. For all PYMNTS EMEA coverage, subscribe to the daily EMEA Newsletter.

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