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Rocking the boat: Setting up scalable, profitable truck parking in months
Global | Geneva

Rocking the boat: Setting up scalable, profitable truck parking in months

15 Jan 2024 · People

The lack of safe and secure parking areas is a fundamental challenge facing the road transport industry. What are the solutions? Charles Anderson, CEO of IRU member Freightsafe, told us why its modern, secure and cost-effective approach is central to the future of truck parking.

Freightsafe specialises in designing, financing, developing and operating automated truck parking areas. These parking areas, or “modular parking bays”, are installed at existing sites such as depots and truck parking spaces. At present, Freightsafe operates in Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK.

“Our mission is to empower all stakeholders, regardless of their size, with the capability of setting up parking – and, in the future, charging – infrastructure wherever they desire,” Charles Anderson told us.

But how does it work? 

To book a parking space, a dispatcher first reserves it via the Bosch Secure Truck Parking portal. Upon arrival, the driver calls the dispatcher to gain access to the site and their parking space.

Freightsafe’s 24/7 surveillance centre actively monitors the trailers, giving customers live insights into the status of their parking. The same driver or a different one can collect the trailer.

Its modular installation and smart security systems make it a scalable, sustainable and secure solution to truck parking.

Beyond addressing pressing industry challenges, such as drivers’ well-being, the EU’s Mobility Package, cargo theft and wasted driving hours, Freightsafe believes that truck parking is fundamental to the industry's future. Charles Anderson unpacked that vision for us.

What’s the new Gantry Kit?

One of the most significant challenges Freightsafe has confronted is to strike the right balance between price and service. Since the industry does not have much experience with scalable truck parking solutions, many don’t know what an ideal truck parking looks like or how much they should pay for it. 

We’re very proud and excited to introduce the world's first multi-service truck parking space. Our Gantry Kit solution seamlessly integrates a blend of reservation solutions (like access control), security measures (such as CCTV and trailer door guards) and charging infrastructure (including the overhead Combined Charging System).

Our Gantry Kit embodies a modular, scalable parking infrastructure that can rapidly transform existing properties into public parking areas. What distinguishes the Gantry Kit from previous models is its optimised balance of space, service and cost.

We expect to launch our first Gantry Kit solution in March in Alfeld, Germany.

Rocking the boat Setting up scalable, profitable truck parking in months


Where are the current Freightsafe sites?

We have sites in Germany, Spain and Sweden catering to high-value sectors like tobacco and electronics as well as e-commerce.

What we learned by deploying our modular parking bays is that the industry is open to sharing its real estate. Moreover, it’s feasible to construct profitable public truck parking hubs in just months rather than years. 

Despite these learnings, we’ve faced many obstacles. As parking services evolve, delivering them becomes increasingly intricate. It's crucial to recognise that truck parking is on the cusp of a significant transition. 

We're moving from a paradigm where drivers simply found a spot (if there was space), parked and pulled the handbrake, to one where a parking space must seamlessly accommodate both reserved and non-reserved parking, electric and diesel trucks, refrigerated trailer charging, and be secure.

It's clear that no single supplier can tackle this challenge in isolation. Freightsafe advocates for collaborative, ego-free partnerships throughout the industry. Past experiences have taught us that making positive strides in this space without the support of strategic partners such as Bosch and Willis Towers Watson is incredibly difficult.

How can we make EU funding more accessible?

Freightsafe supports EU-wide truck parking standards; however, based on our on-the-ground experience, the commercialisation aspect remains a major challenge. 

If a single site takes five years to construct without generating any revenue, promises a return on investment that spans over a decade, and bears significant developmental risks, investment enthusiasm for this sector will remain stuck.

Another consideration is that truck parking is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The industry's parking needs are diverse. The infrastructure catering to it should be designed with this variability in mind.

IRU will continue to work closely with up-and-coming players such as Freightsafe and all other stakeholders to ensure that drivers have access to safe and secure resting facilities. 

At the EU level, additional funding is required for safe and secure truck parking areas. IRU’s work has contributed to the successful allocation of EUR 750 million under the Connecting Europe Facility for Transport for 2021-2023. Several parking projects have successfully received funding, but a greater number of parking areas are needed across Europe. The EU needs to continue financing safe and secure truck parking areas in 2024 and beyond.