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International Forwarding Association Blog » European Logistics

European Logistics

The Future of Freight Forwarding through Innovative Technologies

The world of freight forwarding is undergoing rapid change with the introduction of innovative rail forwarding equipment. These advancements, from modern railcar design to more powerful engines, promise to increase storage capacity, speed up transit times, and enhance safety, among other benefits. With these innovations, freight forwarders stand at the threshold of a revolution that can significantly elevate their service offerings.   Modern Railcar Design Modern railcar design focuses on state-of-the-art railcars made of lightweight materials and tailored to accommodate various types of cargo. The use of lightweight materials primarily enhances efficiency. By reducing the weight of the railcar itself,… Read more

The Premier Ports of Europe: Essential Destinations of Freight Forwarders

Europe’s maritime trade has always depended on its ports. These ports are essential for the continent’s trade today, and many of them have histories that stretch back for centuries. Here is a closer look at five of the most important ones for the European logistics industry.   Rotterdam: A Giant of the Seas Located in the Rhine-Meuse delta on the North Sea, the port of Rotterdam is the biggest in Europe. It was once the world’s premier maritime hubs before Shanghai and Singapore took the lead. What is impressive about Rotterdam is both its size and its ability to handle… Read more

Tackling the Freight Congestion in Europe: Strategies and Solutions

Freight congestion in Europe has long been a challenge, particularly in densely populated areas and around major transport hubs. This congestion results from various factors, including seasonal travel, the rapid growth of e-commerce, and urbanization. As urban centers continue to grow, the demand for goods increases and often overwhelms existing transport routes. The ripple effect of these congestions can be seen in delayed deliveries, increased transport costs, and environmental concerns due to idling vehicles. In response, not only are innovative solutions being proposed, but many have already been implemented to address these challenges.   Multi-modal Transport Multimodal transport in Europe,… Read more

Advantages of Drone Delivery for Freight Forwarders

The future of logistics is already here, with freight forwarders leveraging innovative technology to enhance their operations. Drone delivery, once a concept of science fiction, is fast becoming a game-changer in the world of freight forwarding. This cutting-edge solution offers unparalleled speed with real-world efficiency, economic benefits, access to previously challenging locations, and an eco-friendly approach poised to redefine the landscape of contemporary logistics.   Speed of Delivery In European freight forwarding, drones stand out for three distinct reasons: they are not bound by labour laws that dictate operational hours, they soar above traffic and other terrestrial disruptions, and they… Read more

Unpacking Challenges in Cold Chain Logistics

Designed to maintain a product within a specified temperature range, cold chain freight forwarding is at the heart of many industries, from pharmaceuticals to fresh produce. As the demand for such logistics grows, challenges like maintaining temperature integrity, grappling with high operational costs, and addressing limited infrastructure in emerging markets have come to the forefront, testing the resilience and adaptability of the industry.   Maintaining Temperature Integrity One of the most challenging obstacles in cold chain logistics is ensuring a consistent temperature throughout the shipping process. Even a slight deviation can render some products useless or unsafe for consumption. Factors… Read more

Navigating Challenges and Embracing Optimism Amid Economic Fluctuations

The current climate of the air freight industry may appear frail at first glance, yet optimism prevails among airlines, freight forwarders, and experts. While the situation seems bleak, they believe that it is unlikely to deteriorate any further. Indeed, in spite of recent downward trends and challenges, the industry’s outlook suggests an upcoming rise in demand, adjustments in inflation rates, and positive labor market trends, all leading towards a promising future for air freight.   Downward Trends Statistics from the 22nd week leading up to June 4 reveal a downward trend in both pricing and tonnage, with volumes showing a… Read more

Top Trends in European Reverse Logistics in 2023

Reverse logistics – the process of managing the return of products from the end customers back to the seller, has become increasingly important for companies across Europe. The retail e-commerce industry continues to grow rapidly – according to Morgan Stanley’s forecast, the global e-commerce market is expected to expand from $3.3 trillion currently to $5.4 trillion in 2026. In line with the growth of e-commerce, the reverse logistics market is also poised for strong growth. According to estimates from Data Bridge Market Research, it will reach $954 million by 2029, representing a compound annual growth rate of 5.3% during that… Read more

Deciphering the Puzzle of Driver Shortages in Europe

The heartbeat of Europe’s economy, logistics, is experiencing a significant disturbance: a shortage of truck drivers. According to research published in 2022, Europe currently grapples with a shortfall of 380,000 truck drivers, accounting for roughly 10% of the total demand. This scarcity, primarily fueled by demographic shifts, the gender gap, image perceptions, and stringent regulations, is not merely an operational nuisance but a constraint impacting the entire supply chain, particularly freight forwarding.   The Demographic Challenge At the root of driver shortages is a significant demographic challenge. The truck driving profession struggles to allure younger generations. Alarmingly, only 7% of… Read more

Key Factors Influencing Freight Forwarding in Europe

Freight forwarding plays a key role in facilitating trade and ensuring the efficient movement of goods across borders. Within Europe, several factors influence the freight forwarding industry, including geographical location and infrastructure, regulatory framework and customs procedures, market competition, and environmental sustainability. Understanding these factors is crucial for strategic decision-making, compliance, enhanced efficiency, market expansion, and environmental responsibility.   Geographical Location and Infrastructure Europe’s strategic geographical location serves as a gateway for global trade, connecting the Americas, Asia, and Africa. The continent’s extensive network of ports, airports, railways, and roadways provides efficient transportation and connectivity within Europe and with the… Read more

Ways to Achieve Compliance with Trade Agreements and Regulations in European Logistics

With multiple laws, regulations, and international trade agreements, the European logistics industry is highly regulated, meaning that certain certifications, insurance coverage, and shipping documents are required to move goods across borders. Compliance is key to avoiding reputational risks, delivery delays, and penalties. At the same time, compliance can help freight forwarders gain a competitive edge and enhance customer satisfaction. Understandably, IFA members are increasingly leveraging trade agreements by staying updated, implementing robust programs, building relationships with customs authorities, and using automation.   Stay Updated Staying up-to-date with changes in regulations involves monitoring trade restrictions, sanctions, export controls, and customs laws…. Read more

Leveraging AI to Streamline Operations, Mitigate Risk, and Improve Customer Service

The freight forwarding industry is faced with a number of logistics challenges, including cooperation with various stakeholders, customs clearance, and optimizing transportation routes, to name a few. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in implementing AI technologies to improve cost-effectiveness, safety, and efficiency and enhance the customer experience. European freight forwarders are increasingly leveraging artificial intelligence for risk management, streamlining operations, and customer service.   Streamlining Operations Leveraging predictive analytics and big data, artificial intelligence can analyze market trends, historical data, and factors such as trade regulations, holidays, and weather conditions, helping forwarders to forecast service demand…. Read more

Shipping Alliances and Benefits for Carriers and Forwarders

Carriers often choose to form shipping alliances to benefit from competitive prices and wider service coverage. Such alliances are cooperative agreements that seek to utilize fleet space in the most efficient way rather than operate their own fleets separately.   How do Alliances work? The main areas of cooperation are problem-solving, scheduling, vessel assignment, and stowage planning. Partners also discuss things like operational efficiencies, capacity, types of fuel used, and environmental issues. At the same time, agreements do not cover joint asset ownership, pricing, marketing, or sales.     Other Forms of Collaboration The two other forms of collaboration between… Read more

Regulations and Challenges when Shipping from Europe to Africa

If it is the first time you’re shipping from a European to an African country, there can be a level of uncertainty and unfamiliarity involved. Different countries have imposed different customs rules and regulations, with some challenges like strict regulatory regimes on imported goods.   Technical Regulations A number of countries across Africa have imposed import regulations, including Morocco, Kenya, Ethiopia, Cameroon, and Botswana, among others. The main idea of establishing regulations is to ensure product quality and protect the plant, animal, and human health and life. Under the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) agreement, states have the right… Read more

Guide to Shipping Antique Items

Antiques are among the most valuable items that customers ship, whether bought from specialized dealers, auction houses, or flea markets or passed down through generations. As they have а financial and sentimental value, leaving them behind or selling them is usually not an option. And whether shipping for individual customers, estate distributors, auction houses, or dealers, there are some details to consider when moving antiques long distances.   Types of Antiques Freight forwarders ship a wide range of antique items, including dressers and chests, curio cabinets, secretary desks, and mirrors. Other items include: Glass and porcelain items Family heirlooms Clocks… Read more

Shipping Companies Outsourcing Non-core Capabilities to Focus on Their Core Expertise

A recent survey by Deloitte reveals that 59 percent of shipping companies are in the process of acquiring new core capabilities, while a similar share (60 percent) of carriers are looking to outsource their non-core capabilities. According to the study, these processes could complement each other, with shippers outsourcing support functions while building or expanding their core capabilities.   Core Functions Core capabilities include processes such as order fulfilment, warehouse management, transportation scheduling, safety, workforce and demand planning, and portfolio planning. Currently, the majority of shippers are looking to add new capabilities so that their services and operations align with… Read more

Sea freight in Europe

The Shipping Industry Is Lagging Behind on Embracing AI

Artificial intelligence can provide forwarders with an opportunity to enhance their decision-making capacity. Data transmitted by commercial vessels, for example, can be used for predictive guidance and performance monitoring, enabling businesses to forecast greenhouse gas emissions. This is a way to lower emission levels and ensure carbon transparency. Other implementations include automated processes, improved scheduling, real-time analytics, and so on.     To leverage AI, however, international freight forwarders should take multiple factors into consideration, including the legal framework guiding artificial intelligence. One particular challenge to implementation, especially for shippers operating in both EU member states and the UK is… Read more

Logistics Branches

Logistics Branches: From Production to Recycling

Logistics can be divided into a number of branches, each with its functions and specifics. The main branches are production, procurement, sales, and recovery logistics. These functional areas cover a wide range of activities such as packaging, transportation, inventory control, storage and distribution, materials handling, and order processing, to name a few.     Production Logistics Production logistics involves a wide range of processes, among which the execution, control, and planning of storage and transport for finished, semi-finished, spare, and purchased parts as well as operating, auxiliary, and raw materials. The goal is to ensure an efficient and smooth flow… Read more

Warehouse Automation to Maintain Social Distancing and Increase Productivity

Warehouse automation is a major trend amidst a coronavirus pandemic that already entered its second year. The resulting global recession and lockdowns across the world brought industrial activity to a near halt. As manufacturers began to gradually reopen and resume operations, forwarders throughout Europe found themselves faced with multiple challenges – e-commerce logistics, a growing demand for essential commodities, restricted mobility, and social distancing. As a result of all this, logistics providers have been forced to seek ways to optimize resource use, shorten loading and shipping times, and increase productivity. Many companies turned to warehouse automation in an attempt to… Read more

Trends That Will Transform the Logistics Industry in the Post-Covid-19 Era

With vaccines receiving regulatory approval for roll out by national authorities, hopes are high that the pandemic is slowly coming to an end. It has been a difficult year, however, with millions of people hard hit by restrictions, lockdowns, and school closures. Many industries have been affected as well and are still struggling to recover while others shut down. It is safe to say that the European logistics industry has been hit like many others and is continuously adapting to meet safety protocols and current demand.    What we are likely to witness is small businesses disappearing, rising prices, and… Read more

Logistics Challenges to Mass Immunization

If the vaccine by Pfizer and BioNTech gets approved, distribution and storage requirements can pose a significant challenge to mass immunization. Pfizer and BioNTech just announced that their vaccine is over 90 percent effective but must be transported at minus 70 degrees Celsius. Demand would be significant and immediate and far exceeding what manufacturers are able to supply.Distribution not only involves specialized transportation but shippers would also be involved in transporting the vaccine.   Distribution within EU Manufacturing plants in Belgium and Germany would produce the vaccine for EU Member States. If Pfizer and BioNtech secure regulatory authorization, deliveries could… Read more