IRU has a partnership with TransFollow to drive the development and implementation of paperless freight transport across Europe and beyond.In particular, the partnership aims to accelerate the take-up of electronic consignment notes, under the e-CMR protocol to the United Nation’s CMR convention.
Electronic consignment notes bring many benefits to transport and logistics operators, and their clients, making freight faster, more cost effective and more secure, ultimately enhancing trade, jobs and economic growth.
As the global industry association for road transport, leading solutions to help people and goods move better, IRU encourages all players, from the private and public sector, to implement e-CMR and fully digitise international freight transport.
Many areas of international transport are governed by rules and standards that were negotiated and put into place many decades ago. Enshrined in various multilateral conventions and agreements, these standards have brought legal and operational certainty to transport operators and users, helping to boost trade and prosperity.
Most are based on processes that are firmly paper-based, and bringing them into the digital age – to reap the benefits of greater efficiency and lower costs, while maintaining standards and security – can be challenging due to the large numbers of stakeholders across the mobility chain, with differing and complex relationships, and with overlapping national and international needs and regulatory regimes.
For international road freight transport, the United Nations CMR Convention provides a harmonised and robust legal framework for cross-border shipments, with standards that have facilitated international road freight since it came into force in the 1950s.A protocol to the CMR convention to fully digitise consignment notes (e-CMR) was negotiated in 2008 and entered into force in 2011. More than 60 countries have signed the CMR convention, but only nine countries have so far signed this protocol, and IRU is actively working at an international level and with regional bodies such as the European Commission to increase this number.
On a national level, organisations and initiatives in various countries, including some with IRU members, are working on practical solutions to implement electronic consignment notes with businesses all along the supply chain, as well as national and local authorities in their home countries.
Many however are focused on only one national market, or do not take account of both national and international legislation and regulations (such as e-CMR), or do not offer solutions for the whole logistics chain (shippers, carriers and receivers), or they approach the issue as a purely commercial venture (to sell a product) rather than building a community for, and with, the freight sector, its clients and its suppliers.
One initiative that is already successfully operating, covers the whole logistics chain, has immediate potential to be scaled up internationally, and has been built with, and for, the freight community, is TransFollow. After evaluating many options over the past year, IRU believes that TransFollow, and its community platform model, has the most potential to help rapidly accelerate the spread of electronic consignment notes across Europe and beyond.
Transfollow is a Dutch company that began as an initiative of IRU members TLN and EVO, in conjunction with Beurtvaartadres, the Dutch freight logistics association that dates back to 1685 and was the founder of the standard modern-day consignment note in the Netherlands almost 100 years ago.
TransFollow has made extensive progress in a few short years, building an independent platform and a community of users with, and for, the freight and logistics industry in the Netherlands.
It has become the standard for electronic consignment notes and digital proof-of-delivery in the Netherlands, lowering freight costs, simplifying operations, improving security, and helping reduce carbon emissions for road transport operators and firms in the logistics and supply chain sector.
The TransFollow community is now supported by many third party suppliers to the logistics sector, such as those providing transport or warehouse systems. This growing community means that new end-users can rapidly join the community and start using electronic consignment notes without significant investments in time or money.
Both IRU and TransFollow share the vision of common global standards, processes and practices, built on the e-CMR protocol, bringing increased efficiency, lower costs and greater security to freight across Europe and ultimately all over the world. IRU will encourage its member associations, and the broader freight, logistics and supply chain sector, to help scale-up Transfollow’s successful experience in the Netherlands to other parts of Europe and beyond.
Over time, the partnership aims to make electronic consignment notes and digital proof-of-delivery a global standard that is used every day in all corners of the world. To support and further reinforce the partnership and its ambitious goals, the IRU Geneva Foundation, an independent organisation that supports IRU’s vision, recently purchased TransFollow through Viatrans, its subsidiary that develops and commercialises services for transport operators.
TransFollow will work directly with IRU member associations, on a commercial basis, to develop community platforms in their individual markets, with national platforms working seamlessly with each other across borders. IRU will continue supporting international advocacy efforts to have more countries ratify the CMR convention and the e-CMR protocol. IRU will also continue to encourage other e-CMR initiatives around the world.
Learn more about the IRU-Transfollow Partnership