A greater use of intermodal solutions is the key to Toyota’s new logistics business model in Europe as it looks at mid-term projects to shift transport of parts and vehicles from road to rail and inland waterways. But the success of that model will depend on a much greater collaboration with Toyota’s logistics service providers and European regulatory organisations.
According to Toyota Motor Europe’s Levent Yuksel, director of Vehicle Logistics and Production Parts Logistics, the challenges ahead include terminal compatibility, door-to-door information for accurate ETA forecasting and the successful integration of long distance distribution and ‘last-mile’ delivery; challenges that need to be tackled with the right information processing and a push to make the process simpler, he said.
Addressing delegates at the recent annual conference of the Association of European Vehicle Logistics, Yuksel said there were two aspects to the company’s plans for greater use of intermodal distribution and the first one was practical.
It involved current business volatility, rail lead times and general punctuality – all factors that could all be addressed by working closely with service providers. Quality was another focus for Toyota and its providers he added and said that by exploring the challenges “collaboratively and with creativity” existing constraints on more efficient delivery could be converted into opportunities.
He also highlighted the upcoming impact of urban mobility regulations, which could bring in a greater limitation on delivery windows during peak hours, possible traffic speed adjustments and the implementation of specific freight corridors.
“These all can have an effect on the utilisation of the resources. We have to work together with our LSPs to minimise the impact on supply chain and resource efficiency, and adapt new intelligent systems to optimise route and cargo planning,” he said.
The second important aspect of intermodality was infrastructure, according to Yuksel.
“Toyota wants to focus on optimising capability with high operational flexibility, while maintaining the initial promise that what we give to the customer is an ETA as accurate we promise.”
Yuksel was given some reassurance on this point by the European Commission’s head of Unit for Intelligent Transport Systems, Pawel Stelmaszczyk, who said that the Commission was finalising a package this month that will offer maps showing freight corridors that could enhance efficient logistics planning.
The package is part of the EC’s Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T) strategy. Addressing vehicle logistics providers and carmakers at the conference Stelmaszczyk recognised the pressing need for freight corridors where innovation could be deployed in a more accelerated manner and new solutions tested, “including maybe circulation of new combinations of vehicles to improve freight transport and logistics efficiency”. This, he said, could also improve a more sustainable level of transport.
“There will be an emphasis on building infrastructure including fuelling stations for different types of fuels and, going forward, charging stations for electric vehicles,” he said. “When you see the TEN-T guidelines there will be guide maps showing where the corridors are likely to run.”
Stelmaszczyk went on to say that simultaneous to the introduction of the TEN-T guidelines there is also on-going discussion within the EC regarding the connecting of European facilities. “There is a proposal to establish a new fund for transport, focusing mainly on cross-border infrastructure,” he said.
Yuksel added that while there is an increasing trend to improve the aerodynamics and the load efficiency to cope with environmental impacts, European standards for vehicle heights and weights are not fully harmonised and this was something that needed to be looked at too.
Toyota’s plans for greater intermodality also feed into its goals for greater sustainability. Transport accounts for 24% of total CO2 emissions in Europe with 50% of that figure down to road transport, according to Toyota’s 2011 Environmental Report, released last week.
The report said that Toyota reduced CO2 emissions from its logistics operations by 3,300 tons in 2010. As well as increasing the loading efficiency of trucks this saving was achieved through the promotion of modal shift and a continued effort to improve fuel efficiency with its logistics partners.