The future of freight forwarding in Europe

According to the IRU, there’s a 15% shortage of truck drivers in Europe in 2022, putting a strain on European transport capacity. Rivers across the continent are drying out, making barge transport impossible. Ailing rail tracks along the most important transport lanes (corridors) lead to hundreds of freight-train cancellations. But that’s not all.

European logistics landscape in 2022

The pandemic, a giant cargo ship stuck in the Suez Canal, floods and droughts, shortages of workers, the war in Ukraine, and the prevailing energy crisis have created almost three years of havoc for businesses and consumers that depend on freight transport.
If all these factors were not enough, new problems from within put further duress on already constrained transport capacity across the continent: workforces in some of the largest logistics hubs, encouraged by a tight labor supply amid high demand and ongoing shipping delays, are threatening strikes, as they are expecting to be compensated for sacrifices made to keep economies going during COVID.

While capacity is crumbling under all this pressure, demand is expected to grow at a rate of 4.4% per year until 2025.
And we can not ignore the sustainability problem in all of that. Although some logistics companies try to offer sustainable products and solutions, most of them fall far short of their potential, as the vast majority of the market is set on heavy-duty trucks to cater to the growing demand. As a result, greenhouse gases from logistics are rising steadily, and we are moving further and further away from EU climate objectives. 

Shaping the scalable future of freight forwarding

To overcome these challenges, the logistics industry has to rethink its fundamental structure:

  • Facilitate access to efficient and simplified multimodal capacities;
  • Provide awareness of our ecological footprint with the comparability of alternative solutions;
  • Guarantee seamless management of multimodal transports that enable a steep reduction of emissions.

While today, trucks build the backbone of our supply chain network, the future requires a more diversified and balanced capacity network, utilizing road-, rail-, and barge systems in sync. Moving from unimodality to a system in which the benefits of each mode of transport can be seamlessly combined and accessed can solve the capacity shortage and drastically reduce CO2 emissions. Transports combining truck and rail-freight or truck and barge-freight emit up to 90% and 60% less CO2 than a truck-only option. Some critics would argue that autonomous e-trucks will be the solution. The truth is that both technologies require at least 10  years to reach economic scalability and sufficient maturity, but our economy and environment cannot wait that long. 

This is why we founded rouvia, with the mission to empower smart and sustainable supply chains across Europe. We have developed the first transport planning and management system that seamlessly integrates carriers in trucking, rail-freight, and barge-freight to enable freight forwarders to make optimized decisions about transporting their goods across Europe. Within seconds, our system helps to find the solution that best matches a transport’s requirements, unlocking economic and environmental benefits.

Benjamin Noyan
Co-founder and CEO at rouvia
September 28, 2022