Flexible, fast, location-independent and cost-effective: many good reasons speak for the dominant role of road freight transport. Compared with other types of freight, it is ahead not only in Germany but also in Europe and worldwide. And it is not to be expected that commercial road freight transport will lose its importance. However, with the future comes more and more problems. But solutions can be found for these. In the following article, you can read about the advantages of road freight transport and which obstacles can be overcome and how.
Table of Contents:
The term road freight transport refers to the transport of goods from point A to point B by means of a motor vehicle. Commercial road haulage is the transport carried out on a business basis, organized by logistics companies or freight forwarders for their customers. As a rule, this is done with medium-sized or heavy commercial vehicles. In Germany, the term "freight transport" is generally used only for vehicles with an unladen weight of 3.5 tons or more.
The advantages of road haulage - flexibility, door-to-door transport, cost efficiency and versatility - mean that this segment consistently ranks at the top of statistics on total freight volumes. Even in times of globalization and closely interlinked, worldwide value and manufacturing chains, the truck is irreplaceable.
It is true that long distances require shipping and rail transport or - depending on the goods to be transported - cargo aircraft. But even in this case, there is always a truck at the beginning and end of the transport chain.
A look at the North American continent and the flow of goods in Europe shows: Trucks remain the undisputed leader in long-distance freight transport across the continent as well. This exceptional position of road freight transport is naturally reflected in the statistics.
An analysis by the Federal Office for Goods Transport (BAG) shows the actual distribution of transport volume among land transport modes in Germany. According to this, road freight transport accounted for around 85 percent of the transport volume in 2021, with rail siphoning off less than 9 percent. And the BAG experts also expect a comparable distribution of freight flows for the coming years.
Another impressive figure from the statistics: In 2021, goods weighing 3.69 billion tons were transported by domestic and foreign trucks in Germany. This figure is provided by the Federal Statistical Office. By way of comparison, the statistics for Europe as a whole: Also in 2021, the volume of freight transported by road in the EU-27 totaled around 14 billion tons, reports the European statistics authority Eurostat.
The figures from the statistics speak a clear language - but do not in themselves make it clear what the dominant position of road freight transport is based on.
Road vehicles go almost anywhere and adapt to any transport job. This makes them highly mobile and easy to handle. Even special requirements such as delivery at predefined time slots, express transports or groupage transports can be effortlessly represented by road haulage.
Even last-minute route adjustments are still possible if necessary when the truck is already on the road. This high level of adaptability and flexibility meant tangible benefits and a high level of efficiency for both companies and the contracted transport companies.
In road freight transport, shipments are usually transported directly to the start and end points - without changing the mode of transport or without system-related breaks. No other means of transport for heavy goods transport can offer this door-to-door transport throughout the country.
Due to the very comprehensive infrastructure in the form of a closely meshed road network, routes in road freight transport can be planned very well and are very easy to calculate. This often makes trucks significantly faster than alternative modes of transport - combined with a high degree of planning reliability, for example, when it comes to predefined loading or unloading dates and the timing of deliveries.
There is hardly anything that cannot be transported on the road. This is because vehicle technology offers numerous variants that can also be adapted to the respective requirements. For example, there are trailers for tractor units to transport containers. There are also tank trailers, tipping vehicles for bulk goods or box trailers for general cargo, for example. Refrigerated trucks take temperature-sensitive, perishable goods. Valuables and cash can also be transported safely in specially secured transports.
Comparatively low packaging costs and favorable costs, especially over short and medium distances, also make road freight transport attractive. These cost advantages are based not least on well-rehearsed processes, the many years of experience of all players - and increasing digital networking for even greater efficiency across all process steps of transport.
Of course, with all the advantages of road freight transport, there are also some disadvantages that should not be overlooked: Dense roads, especially in metropolitan areas, traffic jams and accidents can throw many a route planning into disarray. The emissions pollution caused by road transport could have a negative impact on its social acceptance in the medium term, and staff shortages - as in many other industries - are also increasingly becoming a challenge.
At the same time, the logistics industry has always proven to be so resilient and adaptable over the past decades that new developments can be expected on these topics in the future as well. Engine and commercial vehicle manufacturers have long been working on alternatives to the diesel engine, and battery-electric drives as well as hydrogen and fuel cells could play an important role here. A market report from digital freight forwarder Sennder has shown that the shift to environmentally friendly fuels is just gaining momentum and that companies can thus secure advantages over the competition
As the driver shortage in Europe continues to rise and roads become more crowded, rail transport will play a crucial role in the future. Thus, the freight transport mix will increasingly come into play. Trucks transport the goods to the freight trains, from where most of the transport distance is covered on the rails. At the end of the transport, the truck is used again. This mix is more environmentally friendly and can ease the situation surrounding the driver shortage somewhat.
Freight forwarding companies are also working to counter the driver shortage by trying to make the profession more attractive again with numerous benefits and added values. And in the future, autonomous driving technologies could even provide relief in terms of personnel - even if this solution initially seems more realistic for closed, well-monitored areas, for example in internal plant traffic.
Transport via truck has many advantages. But this resource will become increasingly scarce in the future. Increasing traffic on the roads will lead to disruptions and unpunctuality. This in turn will affect delivery reliability. But by optimizing control and scheduling, the problems can be counteracted.
Next problem: driver shortage. Here, and also in the case of delays caused by increasing traffic, you can counteract with a well-functioning Time slot management countermeasures. Transparent communication allows flexibility and adjustment of plans. This reduces waiting time, leading to greater efficiency and satisfaction for drivers and carriers. As transportation costs have increased by as much as 13 percent in the past year, efficient scheduling and transparent communication are increasingly important. After all, efficiency reduces empty runs, saves time and costs.
An important factor for the efficiency and reliability of road freight transport is demand-based route planning. It is estimated that up to one third of trucks on the roads are still more or less empty. Minimizing these empty runs is a fine art that has a direct positive impact on the transport company's earnings situation.
If, for example, fixed loading or unloading times have been agreed, the perfect balance is crucial: Route planning that meets all time requirements without having to buy this with long and thus costly waiting times does justice to its goal. It is obvious that this is no longer possible today with paper and pencil, telephone and e-mail alone. Intelligent tools optimize delivery coordination and bring more efficiency to processes.
Road freight transport refers to the commercial transportation of goods from the pick-up point to the destination using commercial vehicles. According to statistics, trucks are the means of transport of choice for most shipments in Germany and Europe. This is because road freight transport is flexible, fast and cost-effective.
The reliable and flexible transportation of raw materials, components, supplier products and end products is essential for an intact economy. Production and trade are only possible through the delivery of the required goods - so without freight transport, there is no value creation.
Due to their high degree of specialization, trucks are suitable for transporting almost all goods and merchandise. With trailers for containers, liquids, gases, bulk and general cargo, the transport industry has the right solution for every task and can flexibly meet the respective customer requirements.
Only by road can goods be transported from door to door without having to change the mode of transport in between. In addition, road transport is highly variable, adaptable, fast and cost-effective.
Heavy traffic and the associated emissions are an ongoing issue. Manufacturers are therefore working on environmentally friendly, alternative drive concepts. Other challenges include the chronic shortage of drivers that many transport companies are facing, as well as advancing digitalization.
With TradeLink, you have all processes permanently in view. Deliveries can be easily coordinated with the software and tracked in real time. This ensures optimal delivery coordination and efficient truck deployment - waiting times are reduced by over 95%. E-mails, telephone calls and Excel spreadsheets as well as expensive and error-prone paper processes are a thing of the past; all important data is available digitally. For more information and a free demo of our TradeLink software, contact our Expert:innen.
Today, road freight transport plays a dominant, indispensable role in logistics - and there are many good reasons why this will remain so for the foreseeable future. The advantages of high flexibility and adaptability speak as much in favor of road transport as time and cost benefits. With tools and platforms such as TradeLink for intelligent delivery coordination, efficiency in logistics systems can be increased even further and future, as well as existing problems, can be counteracted. This will ensure the importance of road transport in the future.
An electronic Time slot management software brings all partners onto one platform and ensures transparency in communication and along the supply chain. This has many advantages for all parties involved.
Logistics is always a race against time. And when it comes to road freight, the time factor will continue to become increasingly scarce in the future due to driver shortages and crowded roads. An optimized truckTime slot management can provide relief.