How to Materialise Synergies in Transport Logistics

How to Materialise Synergies in Transport Logistics


G Zomer, S Krupe, TNO, NL


The paper describes in detail the organization and business models behind 9 intermodal case descriptions that have been analysed in-depth in the PROMIT project, stressing the importance of sound business models and offering useful lessons.


Intermodal transport has a number of organisational characteristics that make it more complex to set up services than single mode transport services (Vrenken, 2005). The number of actors and dependencies between them requires coordination and well organized collaboration in order to create the required transparency and build trust among the actors. Successful intermodal transport services and initiatives are built on a well balanced division of activities, responsibilities, costs and benefits among the different actors involved in the transport chain. Ideally the underlying organization and business models should provide benefits to all actors involved, creating a win-win situation and should guarantee that the roles and tasks of all actors involved are clear and non-conflicting.

In PROMIT (Promoting Intermodal Transport), a coordination action under the frame of FP6, 60 intermodal best practices have been analysed. Nine of these best practices have been analysed in depth by TNO from the viewpoint of ?organisation and business models?.

Priority topics in these analyses are
1. Integration of intermodal transport in logistics and supply chain concepts
2. Agreement on roles, risks and responsibilities
3. Integrating funding in intermodal cost & financial models
4. Providing service level agreements (SLA?s)
5. Cooperating and coordinating networks, capacities and time tables

These nine best practices are:
1. Cargonet; A subsidiary from Swedish and Norwegian national railway companies, established to make a successful transition from conventional rail wagon transport to intermodal rail shuttle services. Cargonet entered into partnership agreements with continental shuttle service operators like Hupac and Kombiverkehr thus creating a commercial successful business concept.
2. Distrivaart; By means of horizontal cooperation, Distrivaart tried to realize palletized IWT services of fast moving consumer goods in a network approach.
3. Stora Enso; This steel company reorganized its complete transport supply chain as a consequence of the use of an innovative loading unit (SECU), dedicated to the efficient transportation of steel products. Despite the necessary supply chain adjustments, the concept has become a commercial success.
4. Rhinecontainer: This operator of IWT services between the seaports of Rotterdam and Antwerp and the inland terminals along the Rhine found a way to cope with the inefficiencies and low degree of cooperation in this highly competitive market. This concept is based on strong cooperation with the terminal operators in the seaports and inland ports based on Service Level Agreements in order to generate reliable IWT services.
5. Coca Cola Drikker: Coca Cola integrated different intermodal services (rail, shortsea) into their Norwegian supply chain and reduced inefficiencies in freight flows to low density areas by close collaboration with forwarders to jointly organize efficient rail services.
6. SINGER: The project consortium realised and currently operates rail services for international combined transport, with Slovenia as gateway country between West and Central/Eastern countries. Ljubljana acts as a central hub on the North-South corridor between Balcan countries and North-Western Europe as well as the East-West corridor between Italy and the Balcan countries.
7. Duferco: This steel company solved the problem of big distances between the main steel plants in the south of Italy and the rolling mills in the North of Italy. Duferco opted for high frequent rail shuttle services and could obtain very competitive prices since their main cargo flow was solving serious imbalances in existing rail freight services in this North-South corridor.
8. Eurogate: As a global terminal operator Eurogate is confronted by enormous growth of transshipment in its sea terminals. The hinterland transport creates major constraints for terminal productivity and its growth strategy. Eurogate found its solution in obtaining control over the hinterland operations by investing in trimodal inland ports and developing shuttle services between its German seaports and these inland terminals via Boxxpress.
9. Flora Holland: This flower auction is the international market leader in floriculture sales with six auction locations situated close to the most important production areas in the Netherlands. Though they are not active in the distibution processes of flowers itself, FloraHolland acts as a supply chain facilitator. Controlling the information flows enables them to develop innovative intermodal solutions for sea and rail transport.

The paper will describe in more detail the organization and business models behind these case descriptions, with a focus on the five priority topics. Following the best practice assessment it can be concluded that the way intermodal transport is being organized is one of the most crucial success factors in intermodal transport. Lessons can be learned from these successful cases in order to realize the potential intermodal transport has to offer for both businesses and society.


Association for European Transport