Consumption models are evolving towards systems of more customised attention to the final consumer. This has consequently fuelled a change in manufacturing and distribution models. More and more products of very different sizes are exported with very short delivery times and sent directly into the hands of the final customer. It is the evolution from a large shipping model to a new one maintaining a constant flow of medium or small shipments. Simultaneously, the modes of transportation have steered towards gigantism. Ships, trains, trucks and airplanes are becoming larger and larger in search of greater efficiency and lower environmental impact. Loading units, however, have remained the same.
Groupage offers a very good solution for such shipments that result from purchases made through e-commerce, bringing us closer to what we call the Physical Internet. It offers a new environment with the capacity to manage relatively small load units that rely on intermodal transport, which in turn rely on large modes of transport: large ships, trains and mega-trucks.
This technique that optimizes transportation not only generates multiple benefits for the loaders, but also gives great advantages in terms of the concern for the environment.
Customer demands are constantly changing. It is also necessary to keep up with any legislative changes, new transport options and technological inventions. New skills must be developed in the fields of information technology, environmental transport and collaboration. The consolidator works door-to-door. As such he or she needs to be able to manage operations between different countries, with different operators and through the use of various sophisticated technological tools.
The flexibility of an NVOCC makes it attractive to small to medium-sized enterprises, but big companies that manage large volumes of freight across their supply chains also need flexible options.
The consolidation centres are the ones who can best face the challenges posed by this evolution. There is a long way to go ahead of us, and it begins with the training of the operators and companies that will choose groupage as an alternative to their transport systems.
Moreover, more and more companies are looking for opportunities to establish cooperation agreements for the supply and distribution of goods. Many companies share vehicles to improve occupancy, reduce fuel consumption, reduce emissions, improve vehicle utilisation and reduce costs. Operators include these initiatives as part of their environmental and business strategies. Groupage has proven to have clear environmental advantages, when compared with each operator using their own vehicles to deliver small, often uneconomical consignments. Today alliances in transport are becoming more and more frequent.
Most companies see groupage as a possible risk to their cargo. Loss, theft, lack of information or control of the cargo are the main concerns when thinking about combining your shipment with that of other companies. It is true that not all cargoes are susceptible to groupage, but that is why there are specialists that analyse and organise these services to maintain control of all transport and consolidation, therewith minimizing the risks that may occur.
It is thus essential to detect what training and information is needed for operators to be able to take advantage of groupage. Some of the subjects in which lack of training has been detected among freight forwarders, direct customers of NVOCCs, and shippers, range from the identification of the main operators and the services offered from a consolidation centre, the differences between types of groupage by mode of transport and the situational analyses to evaluate the use of groupage, to more complex scenarios such as customs procedures, packaging and labelling of goods, risks and groupage coverages or special treatments of specialised goods.
All of these topics are dealt with in depth in the specialised course on Groupage and Consolidation Centres offered for the third consecutive year by the Escola Europea. This year’s edition will take place from 17 to 19 June 2019 in Barcelona. The main objective is for people to be able to know all the casuistry, processes, documentation and legislation that applies to door-to-door groupage operations. This should familiarise the students in the use of groupage services and therefore a encourage their development. In the two previous editions, companies of different types have participated, including Mercadona, Rhenus Logistics, TransGlory, DB Shenker and Fundación Cares, among others.
The idea of offering a course with these characteristics arose from an analysis of the evolution of supply chains and from the need for professionals and students to have more specialized training, which is structured around a theoretical basis and which also allows for the most practical part of operations to be seen through visits to leading operators in the sector. Companies and entities active in groupage such as the Romeu Group, IFS, Globelink Uniexco, Ibercondor, TM2, ATEIA, PORTIC, the BEST terminal and the Port of Barcelona actively participate in the Escola’s course.
The final aim is to inform companies of the best practices for groupage and explain the operation of the whole system so that they can consider it as an option for transporting their goods and contribute to a more efficient and sustainable transport system.
- Raquel Nunes, Training Programmes & External Relations Manager (Escola Europea – Intermodal Transport)