In the EU, 12.3 % of international road freight journeys were performed by empty vehicles in 2018. This is of course bad for the profits of logistics companies – and for air quality because of extra emissions. Online freight marketplaces offer a way to solve this challenge and optimise logistics operations.

Carriers and truck companies bare huge responsibility for the flow of goods. Throughout the EU, three quarters of goods are transported by road (in France the figure climbs to 80%).

Among the challenges faced by logistics companies, one of the most pressing is empty trucks, or under-utilization of loading capacity. This happens, for example, when a truck carries freight to a destination, but returns empty on the way back.

Making sure that trucks are fully loaded, and containers are not being driven empty, reduces the number of trips made, kilometres travelled and carbon footprint. It all leads to better financial stability for logistics companies.

This is where online freight marketplaces, or online shipping marketplaces, make a difference.

What is an online freight marketplace?

An online freight marketplace is a website or app, where shippers can choose between carriers and book a transport directly from them. Much like other online retail platforms, the customers benefit from the transparency of the pricing.

Digital solutions like this, combining data science and business expertise, offer win-win solutions for the logistics industry.

Live contact

French company Upply, for example, offers such an online freight marketplace application. A smart algorithm matches freight offers and available trucks. Without wasting time on the phone, shippers and carriers instantly find an answer to their needs and negotiate live. In addition, the marketplace enables all stakeholders to easily compare the price offers to the rest of the market.

The main advantage of this online freight marketplace is its responsiveness. The algorithm uses massive amounts of information to identify available transport capacities at a given time near the desired pick-up location.

To succeed, Upply’s algorithms must be fed with relevant data, at the right time, in the right place. Key to this is collaboration with all players – carriers, freight forwarders and shippers. The company constantly adapts to the changing needs of the users and their daily operations.

To strengthen its app’s performance, Upply relies on PTV Group’s technology. By using PTV’s xServer software, Upply can geocode recipients’ addresses, manage travel times, optimize routes, and consider special freight specificities. In addition, xServer provides Upply with high-quality digital maps, that clearly display the areas to be bypassed, road hazards, and constraints specific to trucks.

“PTV Group has a very high level of competence in our field of activity. They are true experts of road transport of goods and good advisers”, says Christophe Menet, Upply’s Product Architect.

More potential

PTV Group is now looking at expanding the capabilities of xServer in the Upply app. Some of the upgrades include finding new lots along a journey, proposals for “pre-built” tours, delivery time forecasts, and truck parking space reservations.

“We at PTV are eager to innovate and digitalize the world of transportation”, explains Jean-Baptiste Dupré of PTV Group, “Therefore, we exchange with Upply regularly to develop new functionalities and serve the users’ needs. This close relationship allows us to adapt as quickly as possible to the real-life requirements and thus, to be more efficient”.

Hopefully, this new model of digital cooperation will expand in the logistics industry, improving performance of companies and improving their carbon footprint.

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