Making freight truly paperless: e-CMR
Rules for transporting goods internationally are covered by the United Nations Convention for the carriage of goods, known as the CMR (Convention relative au contrat de transport international de Marchandises par Route).
This Convention has been ratified by most European states, as well as several other countries. Goods companies, drivers and those receiving shipments use a CMR consignment note, which presents information about the shipped goods and the transporting and receiving parties. Until recently, CMR notes were only in paper form, and IRU is now advocating for a move to an electronic format.
In February 2008, a protocol was added to the CMR Convention, which requested that CMR could be managed electronically, via ‘e-CMR’. This protocol entered into force on 5 June 2011, and so far, 11 countries have ratified this new electronic system. These include Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, France, Netherlands, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland, with additional countries showing strong interest.
e-CMR officially launched in January 2017 with the first ever border crossing to use electronic consignment notes between Spain and France, proving that the system works and is simple to implement and use. It is likely to prompt other countries to join – therefore increasing the potential for common benefit.
CMR brings many benefits, e-CMR brings more
In its paper-based format, the CMR consignment note brings many benefits: it harmonises contractual conditions for goods transported by road and helps facilitate goods transport overall. A global e-CMR solution would retain all these benefits, but would make the system more modern, by removing paperwork and handling costs. This is why IRU intends to implement a global e-CMR solution, in close partnership with its members.
Some of the key benefits to e-CMR include:
Handling costs can be up to three to four times less expensive
Faster administration with reduced data entry, no paper handling, no fax/scan/letter exchanges, no paper archiving, etc.
Reduction of delivery and reception discrepancies
Control and monitoring of the shipment
Real-time access to the information & proof of pick-up and delivery
Because of its digital nature, e-CMR can also be easily integrated with other services used by transport companies, e.g. customs declaration or transport & fleet management services. By moving to an electronic format, the three parties involved in each shipment benefit from increased overall efficiency of logistics, resulting in increased economic competitiveness. A final benefit, is greater road safety, as e-CMR can be linked to eCall, a system for trucks that automatically dials emergency services in the event of a road traffic accident.