Fleet and freight management
The freight sector is evolving towards ever-increasing integration between the transport chain and the supply chain using integrated management software.
In addition, there is an increasing awareness of the need for multimodality and the need to develop interoperable communications systems. Finally, the application of regulations and protection of the environment are growing preoccupations.
The ACTIF tool shows the interfaces required between transport and logistics, and between the different modes used along the transport chain, as well as requirements related to security and safety.
Several areas in which ITS are already used and where they are set to develop include:
Telematic tracking of some goods is used in order to improve the security and safety of the transport of dangerous materials. The features of such a tracking and monitoring device permit:
- Sensitive or banned zone access control (geofencing), compliance with dangerous material concentration thresholds in the same zone and distances between vehicles (attached GEOFENCE-MD study) with the Lyon CETE and LUTB cluster).
- Real-time management of alerts and of the appropriate emergency responses (CETE S-O), immediate verification of the type of substance being transported.
The intelligent transport and transport of dangerous materials teams at the Ministry for Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea (MEEDDM) have carried out a process to develop medium and long-term guidelines.
Specifically, an industry architecture for information exchanges and communication flows between the various players was developed and two studies were launched under the framework of the ARTS Europe-wide project, which has since become EASYWAY.
The CETE Sud-Ouest has developed a truck satellite tracking system: VISU-TMD. The joint UNECE meeting tasked with regulating the land transport of dangerous materials has created a telematics working group for the application of ICT.
For river transport, river information services enable some boats to be geolocated and alarms and AIS type rescue measures to be coordinated (maritime sector).
For rail freight transport, wagons transporting nuclear waste, some chemical products and some substances on which there is a monopoly, such as tobacco, are satellite tracked, and are handled by a specific alarm and incident management structure: Présence-Fret and the TR@IN-MD (www.trainmd.fr) (intelligent transport of dangerous goods) research project.
Satellite tracking techniques have been widely developed for long distance road transport.
Entreprises - Industriels
Logistics involves managing fleets of commercial vehicles and the associated information flows. In order to be efficient, it uses automatic vehicle location and vehicle-control centre communication systems. Generally, GPS (using the Egnos and Galileo satellite signals in the medium term) combined with a GSM is used; when connected to certain modular systems, this enables vehicles to be constantly tracked on digital maps. This on-board IT solution is offered by many companies.
In addition, these companies are able to offer a whole range of services such as geo-optimisation (optimal delivery round management), seeking loads (freight marketplace), invoicing, driver management, electronic document management and multimodal connections with the air cargo (Traxon) and shipping (Inttra) services portals. A 2008 study on HGV on-board IT devices provides a comprehensive description of the features provided by the devices currently on the market and offers assistance when drawing up specifications for road haulage SMEs.
Logistics must take into account the whole range of modes used to transport goods. Multimodality and intermodality management is therefore vital. Various ITS help to manage and control intermodal hubs (ports, airports, ferry terminals and railways stations). They focus on parking, operations and the interfaces between the different modes of transport.
Gestion des flottes et du fret
Real-time freight tracking is a must for shippers when they are seeking to incorporate transport into the added value chain and is a performance requirement for transporters. This type of tracking system may be imposed by the public authorities for sensitive materials (waste, drugs, dangerous materials, temperature regulated products, live animals, food and animal health products). Finally, the system is used for protecting loading units and products against theft and delivery errors. Freight monitoring and fleet monitoring are therefore separate.
Barcodes only enable partial traceability at certain break bulk points during the transport of packages and batches. Smart labels, which can be remotely checked by radio frequency identification (RFID), are the most effective solution. With the standardisation and harmonisation of radio frequencies, RFID tags are becoming the fingerprint of products. In France, a national RFID centre is tasked with promoting RFID usage amongst shippers.
Integrators and solution providers offer a wide range of fleet and freight management tools. These systems must meet the needs of road haulage companies. This guide has been created to help road haulage companies to draw up suitable specifications based on useful features.
The commercial vehicle fleet and freight management tools market very often seems paradoxical, as there is a wealth of high-performance technology on offer, but only a fledgling demand for telematics solutions for freight transport. The main on-board IT features for road goods transport are geo-positioning and numerous industrial applications:
Geolocation is based on GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System) technology which involves an on-board receiver being located in relation to several satellites, with accuracy to within 2-50m. It is also a service offered on contract by GSM operators; in this case a cell ID is used without adding a special receiver unit and provides accuracy to within several hundred metres.
Company fleet management solutions function based on a hybrid principle, making use of the advantages of all radio technologies:
- GPS location using an on-board unit.
- Information transfer via a Bluetooth link to a GSM/GPRS terminal separate from the vehicle.
- Transmitting exchanges with the company via the mobile phone network.
Given that geolocation collects information that may affect some fundamental freedoms, such as privacy and the right to come and go, the company must:
- Inform employees about the location system which must, in all cases, be able to be disengaged during rest periods.
- Obtain user consent.
- Submit a formal data protection declaration to the CNIL (French data protection agency) if data is being archived.
Please refer to recommendation 2006-066 of 16 March 2006 on the usage of systems designed to gelocate vehicles used by employees.
The aim of these geo-positioning tools is to help increase productivity and provide clients with additional tracking services.
Generally, companies want to view geographic positions on a mapping device and have access to a certain number of extra features, such as:
- View distances and calculate routes (route and delivery round optimisation).
- Manage tasks, schedules and alert messages.
- Search for stolen equipment and ensure employee safety in some areas.
- Real-time tracking information about operations carried out in-house and on the client’s premises.
Geolocation systems now seem to be indispensable in the freight transport sector to manage logistics and delivery tracking, and also in other sectors, such as the emergency services.
Road freight transport industry solutions
These solutions primarily involve commercial fleet management and bring into play GIS specialists, mapping providers, GPS distributors and on-board IT specialists.
They are positioned in the fleet tracking and management market in which there is a diverse and abundant range of products, and are based on partnerships with mapping providers to convert the data provided by location techniques into physical positions on display and route tracking devices.
This makes it possible to:
- Calculate an optimal route.
- Accurately position resources.
The aim is also to manage task planning and dispatching on the ground in accordance with client requests.
Analysis of product offers, presented in the form of add-on modules, has identified the following main groups of features:
- Task management and delivery round optimisation: Solution providers offer message tools enabling the status of current or future tasks to be checked, unforeseen circumstances to be managed and clients to be informed in real time about ongoing delivery rounds. Sending an electronic delivery slip (on a PDA or Pocket PC) enables the tasks assigned to the driver to be managed in real time. Moreover, routes can be planned and tracked, with the aim of reducing production costs, by using driver behavioural analysis tools. Indeed, ecodriving is also part of the commitment to reduce emissions of CO² and particles into the atmosphere.
- Employee data feedback (rest periods, managing the 35 hour working week and driver regulations): Driver management in transport companies is made easier by solutions offering alert systems that enable drivers to concentrate on their route. An additional navigation system enables extra driver guidance to be offered. The introduction of digital tachographs and their gradual roll out from 1 May 2006 suggests that on-board IT for trucks will further develop.
Indeed, alongside manufacturers of on-board equipment and map providers, the publishers and suppliers of driver working hours and rest period software and tachograph data processing software offer a full package, complete with downloading tools, archiving solutions and / or, as optional extras, ASP (Application Service Provider) services for a remote connection and / or automatic pay slip processing.
These services should be defined when conducting studies into the needs expressed by the various transport stakeholders.
- Security and safety: Security and safety refers to theft (trucks, trailers and goods), the detection of anomalies or the risk of an offence being committed (abnormal length stops and driving times, speeding, identification of excessive delays). Some systems enable alerts to be generated and remote action to be taken (immobilisation of the vehicle, for example).
- Invoicing and payment solutions: Several trends and regulations are leading to HGVs being fitted with electronic toll collection systems: widespread use in France of the DSRC 5.8 GHz (TIS-PL) and proliferation of national and regional road infrastructure usage taxation or toll collection systems for HGVs: Germany (LKW Maut, operated by TOLL Collect), Switzerland (RPLP, operated by the customs authority), Austria (Go-Maut, operated by ASFINAG), Czech Republic (MYTO CZ) and Slovakia (SKYTOLL). The system will be rolled out in Alsace in the near future and extended to the French national network. Given the principles and tariffs applied, these systems should operate within the framework of the Eurovignette and the Interoperability directives with regard to the harmonisation of equipment and processes. However, in reality, the equipment and procedures required by these systems are different and are not interoperable at the present time. The result is a proliferation of on-board equipment, which the transport operators in question lament and criticise, as well as the increasing complexity in terms of management. Finally, for a number of different reasons, on-board electronic toll collection systems can neither be integrated nor interoperated with the on-board operating IT, with one notable exception, the Tribox OBU, developed by Eurotoll.
Normafret is the title given to the working group set up in 2003 by the MEDDTL, overseen by the ACFCI since 2004.
I. A framework for an intelligent freight programme
The expression "intelligent freight" refers to international projects known as ITS "Intelligent Transport Systems and services" and aims to use information and communication technologies to improve freight management. The term "intelligent" is defined as "capable of collecting, processing and disseminating information" but it also evokes the social responsibilities of transport systems and the contribution they can make to road safety policies, energy savings, environmental protection and sustainable development as a whole.
The Ministry of Ecology, Energy, Sustainable Development and the Sea (MEEDDM) via the Intelligent Transport Mission (DGITM/SAGS/MTI), the professional federations FNTR (National Federation of Road Transport) and TLF (French Federation of Road Haulage Companies), as well as representatives of port facilities (GPM Dunkerque) and inland navigation (VNF), shippers and distribution (Club Logistique 59/62), and providers of standardised solutions (GS1), have joined together to support actions to ensure French representation in standardization bodies and ensure the promotion and dissemination of "intelligent freight" solutions to SMEs in the transport and logistics sector.
This programme, launched in mid-2004, has been implemented since 1st July 2006 by the association Transports Terrestres Promotion (TTP Northern France), the structure for managing the competitiveness cluster I-Trans (Nord - Pas-de-Calais / Picardie) which has an international vocation.
II. The Situation
Information systems for freight transport should now be designed to be as open and intermodal as possible, in order to respond to shippers’ increasing need for information , the globalization of trade, security measures and the importance of tracking freight flows, as well as the dematerialisation of administrative and commercial procedures. Although there are a large number of services available and there have been some remarkable achievements in the field, companies often find it difficult to make choices in what is a strategic, but also a complex and evolving sector, and have particular difficulties in implementing the services chosen.
The sustainability of information systems associated with various applications (company management, commercial management, management of the activity, regulation and control etc.), as well as the need to maintain costs at levels which are accessible to small and medium-sized companies mean that research in the sector is turning its attention to the search for standardised solutions in terms of the interfaces and software components used.
III. Areas for Action
The French position and representation in terms of the standardization of "freight and fleet management"
Norm@Fret is the standardization section of the "Intelligent Freight" programme. It is supported by the French Standardisation Commisson CN02 "Freight and fleet management" lead by the BNVET (Office for Standardisation of Operations, Road Networks and Transport) of the SETRA which is mandated by AFNOR to prepare France’s positions in standardisation bodies (ISO, CEN). The commission also contributes to the standardisation work of the UN-CEFACT.
The action programme’s professional partners are directly involved in the UN-CEFACT’s work on standardisation: The centre for facilitating trade and eBusiness, notably the TBG3 Transport/Logistics committee, presided by a Norm@fret consultant; they also contribute to the work of the ISO and CEN on ITS and the security/safety of freight transport. They are consulted on the international texts being drawn up via the secure site www.normafret.org
and, when required, prepare France’s position.
This includes for example, work on modelling B2B trade, on the standardisation of EDIFACT and XML digital data exchange, radio frequency identification (RFID), and international supply chain security.
The objective is twofold:
- Inform companies of existing standards, the reasons for using them, breakthroughs in the sector and good practices;
- Allow companies to inform solution providers, administrations and standardization organizations of their actual needs.
A key target: SMEs
Under the framework of the Norm@Fret programme, the aim is to:
- promote the use of standardized intelligent freight solutions for SMEs;
- provide professionals with information on developments in the digital data exchange used in trade relations between stakeholders in the transport supply chain (shippers, transport operators, logistics companies, customs, public authorities etc.) ;
- carry out awareness-raising and training sessions on ITS and standards.
These promotion and dissemination activities use partner networks, notably of professional organisations and the CCI (Chambers of Commerce and Industry) and target SMEs in particular.
Finally, at regional level, actions are undertaken to reinforce how companies are informed, made aware and guided in a key sector to ensure their competitiveness in a highly competitive global market.
This area also relies on the work of stakeholders such as the not-for-profit organisations CLEEP (Liaison Committee on Professional Data Exchange) and AFNET (French Association of Internet Users) who are implementing a cross-sector plan to see an improved take-up of ICT by SMEs