Bye Bye Empty Miles; Hello Efficiency

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Trucks are expected to take the Indian economy places. Currently they move about 70 percent of India’s freight and their number could increase rapidly as the country gears up to become the manufacturing hub of the world.

However, given the status quo in the freight sector, its sustainability could be a major concern in the future. Though trucks make up less than ten percent of the vehicular traffic on the road, they guzzle about 28 percent of the country’s diesel and belch out 63 percent of the CO2. India quite obviously needs to streamline this sector, sooner than later.

One way to do this is by minimizing empty miles. “Empty miles” is what results when trucks travel without load. This is pure wastage because despite fuel consumption and emissions there is no corresponding movement of goods. This situation arises because once trucks have transported their goods there is no organized system to help them locate goods that can be carried on the journey back home. Fuel wastage due to empty miles in India is as high as 40 percent.

Dibyendu Sengupta, transport specialist at the European Business and Technology Centre (EBTC), says “Reduction in unproductive trips would be the best way forward to streamline the freight sector in India and decrease emissions. Using modern communication technologies would be the ideal way to enable it.”

A technology platform to bring truckers and truck users together could greatly benefit the freight sector and the environment. Which is why, Freightbazaar.com the web-based freight portal in India has found great resonance amongst the stakeholders.

Amongst those supporting the platform is Clean Air Asia (CAA) – an NGO that works in 100 Asian cities to better the quality of air.

Freightbazaar.com is like a radio taxi service – those with goods to transport can connect to the trucks listed in the vicinity and vice versa. The only difference is that there is a robust verification process; truckers and truck users need to meet stringent guidelines in order to become registered users of the portal.

CAA has helped freightbazaar.com make some very strategic additions to increase it reach and efficacy. One such feature is the addition of an app called mtrux.

Parthaa Bosu, India Director CAA, explains, “Truck owners, some of whom are also the drivers, cannot always access the platform through a computer. It is more strategic to put the platform into their phones, which is what we have supported. Now even basic mobile phone users can access information on load and truck availability, or post their requirement by dialing a specified number. This facility known as USSD is currently available on Airtel and Uninor but will be extended to other operators shortly.”

Mtrux is likely to increase the number of productive connections and decrease the number of empty trips. This will help bring down costs as well as emissions.

Says Bosu, “Even a 10 percent reduction in the empty trips can help a truck operator save almost INR50000 annually. There will also be a substantial emission reduction as a result of fewer empty trips.” Sudhir Gota, green freight expert adds, “Online freight exchange can greatly eliminate empty trucks from the roads. With the same amount of fuel trucks can now carry 50-80 percent more goods”.

The newer version will also make the entire freight process more transparent for both SMEs as well as the truckers. Without any foolproof mechanism to track the progress of the shipment, SMEs have no option but to trust goods worth lakhs to truckers known to them only through word of mouth, Truckers on the other hand are not always assured of payment on time. The new platform addresses this with features such as e-confirmation of truck hiring, facility for trips status, payment status, document vault for trucks and, driver details.

In the words of Bhaven Shah Co-Founder and COO, FreightBazaar.com “With the integrated services, we aim to make inter-city shipping and truck hiring process a positive experience while increasing profitability for both truck users and truck suppliers”.

By all accounts, with freightbazaar.com, freight is likely to bid a happy farewell to inefficiencies.