The ERTICO Academy continues to spread knowledge about smart mobility, despite the current challenges we face. Last Friday, 20 March, the Academy launched a series of webinars on the very latest in Intelligent Transport Solutions (ITS). More than 40 participants from across Europe took part in the first discussion on electronic freight documents, relating it to the impact of COVID-19 and BREXIT.

“In these challenging days, we see that inherent inefficiencies in supply chains are highlighted and further reinforced. We need all governments and logistic stakeholders to switch to electronic data sharing and avoid using paper documents. Through FENIX – the leading EU project on federating e-freight platforms, AEOLIX logistics platform and the ERTICO Academy, the ERTICO Partnership will continue to drive the industry towards the full uptake of digitalisation”, states Zeljko Jeftic, Deputy Director of Innovation & Deployment at ERTICO.

The advantages of electronic freight documents are evident.  “Truck drivers can enter Italy to deliver goods but are not allowed to exit the truck cabin – due to the virus-, thus all paper handling has to be done digitally”, says Chris de Hollander, Managing Director at Stora Enso. “Digitalisation is the only way forward.” Stora Enso is a leading provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden constructions and paper. The company has been benefiting from e-CMR for several years.

Additional advantages for e-CMR are the all-time availability of digital information which simplifies administrative processes and thus saves time. “At least 75% of our administration is gone. There is no more waiting time, we can issue invoices straight away and the full digitalisation of the process enables our office staff to work from home”, points out Annelies Geldhof, Middlegate Europe who has been using e-CMR for over a year. Middlegate is a modern, dynamic logistics company and European market leader in transport, groupage warehousing and logistics. “At this point we prefer working with clients that are adopting e-freight in their processes. Going digital without borders is the only way forward!”

© United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Challenges de Hollander mentions when it comes to using these services are fragmentation across borders as well as between parties involved. While Belgium, UK and more recently Sweden have adopted the use of electronic freight documents, Germany as one of the major transit countries has not. “Senders, recipients, the transportation company and the drivers themselves must all deal with shipping notes, consignment notes, instructions etc. If just one of the involved actors is not convinced of the advantages of e-CMR, we have problems”, de Hollander states.

Pionira, one of the market leading companies in Europe on digital freight data and documents, called on EU governments during the webinar to allow for e-freight in view of the current COVID-19 crisis. Read their full appeal here.

“Collaboration in digitalisation is very important for communities. With our platform we offer a general solution for digitally signing documents, by using existing systems”, says Barry van Leuven, Managing Director, Pionira. The company offers distinctive and innovative solutions for transport and logistics, aimed at improving productivity in logistics administrative processes. “Particularly at this time of the COVID-19 crisis, digital solutions are essential. With data you can work fast, communicate with other stakeholders and sign documents digitally.”

E-document solutions are a growing trend. According to Pionira, the use of it was up by around 700 percent in 2019, with more than 500 companies and nearly 3000 users having registered for the service. Freight transport operations within the EU are slowly moving from the use of paper documents to electronic documentation, but there still is a long way to go. Two main problems remain to be solved: the acceptance of e-documentation by all Member States and their authorities and the lack of general binding rules on electronic transport documents.

ERTICO continues to lead the digitalisation of freight across Europe through the AEOLIX logistics platform, the FENIX EU project and ERTICO Academy training.

Watch the full webinar below.