Road transportation: More sustainable and more digital (Part I)
In the medium to long-term, we will see an entirely new way of thinking about transport in the distribution sector.
Climate change, the development of new technologies, digitization of industry, logistics, and supply chains are creating the conditions for a real revolution in the distribution sector, which will affect both long-distance and urban deliveries.
Sustainability and respect for the environment
The transport sector generates a quarter of all CO2 emissions making it an absolute pre-requisite that the industry complies with the United Nations Paris Agreement in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20%.
According to the "Transitioning to Zero-emission Heavy-Duty Freight" study from the International Council on Clean Transportation – renowned for its analysis of the industry - the most efficient uses of energy are not being applied. For vehicle efficiency, natural gas is a reliable option, although, from a holistic environmental point of view, it offers fewer advantages. When considering not just emissions, but the general performance of the vehicle, the energy of the future for distribution fleets will be electric, as it is as efficient as natural gas and can be significantly eco-friendlier. The sector is encouraging the replacement/conversion of conventional trucks for ones that use cleaner sources of energy. However, for electric substitution/conversion to succeed, it is necessary to increase generation from renewable sources, which can only be achieved by enhancing the energy and environmental policies of each region or country.
Digitization and technological revolution
We live in an age where new technologies affect every aspect of society, and the world of transport is no exception. The implementation of innovations in this sector has already begun to create benefits, like:
- Digital platforms with Transportation Management System (TSM) applications that are allowing companies to scan their entire transportation process and providing additional features that include planning, visibility, documentation management, and cargo monitoring. It is predicted that these applications will enable new operating models; more flexible and based on crowdsourcing trends, similar to the "uberization" concept of the economy, which will significantly facilitate meeting the transport industries future demand and supply requirements.
- Artificial intelligence usage will revolutionize the transport sector in Europe. Currently, 25% of mileage is performed without load but thanks to sophisticated predictive algorithms, which can analyze huge amounts of data and generate load estimates several days in advance, there will be a measured decrease in distance traveled empty.
- Platooning - an initiative promoted by the EU - is the grouping of autonomous vehicles to increase the capacity of the road transport network. This technology reduces the distance between vehicles, using electronic hooks and mechanical devices, which allow acceleration and braking to be synchronized. Consequently, the reaction distance necessary for a human driver is no longer relevant, allowing a higher number of vehicles to travel safely on the road. The main benefits are CO2 reduction and improved safety. Other exciting new autonomous driving technologies are also being tested, although still with drivers in-cab. Experts believe that these technologies will be a reality within 3-4 years.
Don't miss our next newsletter where we'll examine both long-distance and urban transport trends and how companies are preparing for the revolution to come.
- Road transportation
- Artificial intelligence
- CO2 emissions
- Climate change
- New technologies
- Logistics and Supply chain
- Transportation Management System
- Long-distance transport
- Urban transport
- United Nations Paris Agreement
- Fleet management