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According to the German Federal Motor Transport Authority, in 2021 almost 154 million trucks made the trip on German roads without a load, which is around 38 % of all truck trips in domestic transport. Journeys that transport nothing but air are not only expensive for the shipper or the transport operator, but also inefficient due to the free load capacity and, above all, unnecessarily harmful to the climate.


But how do empty trips come about in the first place? 

Supply flows fluctuate due to uneven or alternately distributed demand at different locations. Goods are often delivered to storage or turnover points where it is difficult to find reloads. So before new shipments can be loaded, the truck usually has to travel a certain distance without any goods.

Furthermore, small and medium-sized companies, in particular, often face the challenge of not being able to fill a truck to capacity because they have less goods to transport. Larger companies, too, choose not to wait to fill a truck to capacity because customers want to receive their goods as quickly as possible.


Reduction of empty transports by LTL transports 

Many empty or partially empty trips can be avoided with the help of intelligent planning by transport companies and digitisation. One possible solution is less-than-truckload shipping (LTL), or the transport of partial loads. Here, in contrast to full truckload (FTL) shipments, different loads from several shippers are loaded together onto one truck and delivered to different recipients. In this way, the highest possible occupancy rate is achieved, empty transports can be reduced, and emissions can be improved by return loads or reloading during the tour. In addition, the individual shippers save costs by sharing truck space.


Challenges associated with LTL transports 

While LTL transports have several advantages, they also create some challenges for transport companies. Trucks with partial loads have to make several stops on their tour to load and unload the shippers’ goods at different points of interest (POIs). This not only leads to more complex tours, as well as the risk of delays due to waiting times at loading and unloading POIs, it also increases the risk of goods being damaged in transit. In addition, it must be taken into account that certain goods should not be transported together, such as chemicals or hazardous goods.


Tracking LTL Transports

However, the advantages of LTL transports certainly outweigh the disadvantages. Modern supply chain visibility platforms support route management and, with the help of GPS-controlled monitoring of all transport activities, enable seamless status tracking in real time. When monitoring transports, however, care must be taken to ensure that tracking data is only shared with the appropriate recipients. After all, customers should only receive the data that is important to them. Where the truck is before or after the transport of its goods, or which intermediate destinations are reached, is none of the customer’s business.


With NIC-Place, you have the option of tracking transports at shipment level. With the help of tour segments, the individual tour sections can be flexibly created and monitored, and notifications can be easily set to monitor for changes in temperature, as needed. Furthermore, individual alarms can be created for each tour segment, which can proactively keep customers alerted to any problems.

NIC-Place allows you to securely share tracking data with customers for any shipment type according to data protection regulations. A live tracking link, as well as the documentation, can be created per tour segment and contains only the data relevant for the customer. This way, you always keep your customers up to date without passing on unauthorised data.

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