Europe’s transportation landscape is changing fast, while new technologies are transforming logistics in the region. Sustainability is gaining momentum as a top priority, as are the tools that are emerging to help solve for environmental concerns. Strict regulations in cities and at borders are compounding the challenges faced by logistics and transportation professionals as they carry out their daily duties. And, of course, challenges related to COVID-19 and the ongoing global pandemic continue to place new pressures on both global and local supply chains alike.

All of this is why I’m so excited for our upcoming European Carrier & Freight Forwarder Virtual Summit, taking place tomorrow morning. I’ll be sitting down with some of the top leaders in the European shipping and transportation industry, including Nacho Barker, Transportation Director Europe at Ecolab; Artur Kreft of PKS Gdansk; Thies Grage, Head of Digitalisation, Innovation and IT at BU Chemilog, Hoyer Group; Antoine Le Squeren, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Fretlink; Kevin Nielen, Logistics Lead EMEA at DOW Chemical; and Emilio Lopez Martin, Key Account Manager at Berger Logistik.

Together, we’ll be discussing the rapidly changing freight landscape in Europe, and what it means for the future of our industry. Here are some of the questions that are top of mind for me as I gear up for this exciting conference.

COVID-19 Prompts Growth in Multimodal Shipping

Some days it can be hard to remember that this “new normal” we’re living in wasn’t always the case. As the global supply chain flexes around the new demands and constraints placed upon it by COVID-19, many of the changes transportation leaders have made will likely stick around long after the pandemic has ended.

For example, the European trucking market had been changing significantly since even before  COVID-19’s arrival in Europe. FourKites data shows much more capacity going into modes other than trucking, prompted in large part by the massive fragmentation within the European trucking industry, as well as the ongoing shortage of drivers. For example, inland shipping was already a much more popular mode in Europe than in other parts of the world, and over the past few months we’ve seen many more players entering this market due to the shortage of drivers. In some industries, particularly in the chemical space, we’ve seen increases as high as 10-15%, as companies move their freight expenditures away from over-the-road and instead into barges and inland shipping.

Interestingly, we’ve also seen a dramatic increase in rail adoption across the continent, particularly within the food and beverage industry. Especially with the prospect of the New Silk Road coming into Europe, rail is an increasingly prevalent modality throughout the continent as a whole, and in some cases countries have significantly incentivised rail freight to ameliorate reductions in passenger traffic brought on by COVID-19. It will be most interesting to discuss these trends with each of our speakers, and evaluate which of these changes are likely here to stay, and which will return to normal after the COVID-19 crisis has abated.

Transforming Supply Chains Across Europe

In complex markets where the expectations are constantly changing, digitisation can help companies maintain agility, improve sustainability and better respond to new challenges. But before you can “run” with a new digital solution, you need to learn how to “walk.”

Many of the key questions at our summit will center around best practices for getting all of the parties that represent the supply chain’s many moving parts (carriers, freight forwarders, customers, etc.) on the same page when it comes to new supply chain technology. In such a fragmented space, the value of any digital transformation initiative is directly linked to the amount of data that you can get cleaned up and in one place – as well as the quality and comprehensiveness of that data.

FourKites has made great strides in this direction in recent months, and we’re always looking for ways to do more. In addition, we understand that when it comes to rolling out a supply chain visibility strategy, all customers have unique needs and the strategy that works for one may not work for the next. Throughout tomorrow’s summit, I’ll be asking each of our guests in-depth questions about how they have solved these challenges for their organization, and which techniques have worked best for them.

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No matter the size of your organization, or where you fall within the European transportation sector, you’ll want to tune in tomorrow to hear what these industry leaders have to say. It’s not too late to register!

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