An ELA-supported ‘Study on Freight Integrators’

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European transport policy until the year 2010 has now been laid out by the European Commission in a White Paper in which targets – and ways to achieve them – are described.

In the freight sector, these targets are characterised by clear and specific objectives including: more intermodality and alternative transport modes; increasing the overall efficiency of transportation systems; and optimising various components in the system and achieving control of the door-to-door chain. All this should take account of both economic and environmental aspects, facilitating sustainable development in the European transport market.

The fundamental thought that underlies this idea is to address the perceived imbalance in transportation modes within the EU, with a consequent reduction of the share of goods transported by lorry (which now stands at 44 per cent).

Intermodal transport chain needed
Means to achieve these objectives could include the further development of inland waterways, short sea shipping and rail but unfortunately, these modes are the very ones least capable of door-to-door transport. Therefore an intermodal transport chain has to be developed that can accomplish door-to-door services. Taking technological requirements like standardisation as given, there still remains the task of organising these intermodal systems for specific requirements.

And this is where that new EC concept to deal with the organisation of intermodal transport comes in – the so-called Freight Integrator.

Upon publication of the White Paper, a lot of controversy surrounded this concept. Freight forwarders particularly felt it to be the birth of a new profession. Indeed, being based on the freight forwarding profession, including business aspects of integrators, and at the same time taking into consideration European policy targets as outlined above, it represents something new. Whether this can be seen as an addition to existing professions or manifests a new professional field will be further researched in this study.

This report will look at comparable existing concepts, briefly mentioning their shortcomings with respect to the ideas of the EC. Based upon this, a definition for the Freight Integrator will be put forward, giving a precise description of tasks, while trying to keep it as ‘open’ as possible.

With respect to this definition, 40 international companies will explain the various characteristics and indicators by which a notional Freight Integrator might be identified.

In addition, findings believed to give most realistic picture of the intermodal field to date will be presented in order to identify possibilities and problem areas to be taken into account regarding the Freight Integrator. Based on this, policy recommendations, especially for the upcoming EC ‘Action Plan’ will be formulated.

Overall, the report gives the first comprehensive view of the market – and the situation a Freight Integrator will have to face.

The study was carried out by a consortium of five partners under the co-ordination of ZLU: ZLU – Zentrum für Logistik und Unternehmensplanung GmbH; International Scheldt Faculty (ISF); European Intermodal Association (EIA); KRAVAGLOGISTIC; European Logistics Association (ELA).

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