EUROPE’S IBERIAN PENINSULA?Spain and Portugal?is surprisingly large: approximately 371,000 square miles. It’s surprisingly industrial too; manufacturing output as a percentage of GDP is 33 percent, ahead of Germany, Italy and France. And it’s also a surprisingly popular tourist destination: 60 million vacationers flock to the region each year. Not to mention it’s surprisingly tasty; the peninsula’s exports of fresh produce and wine are found in supermarkets all over Europe. The result? A logistics headache that’s ripe for an electronic transportation exchange with a difference, says Jose Bleda, a partner in the Barcelona, Spain, office of consultancy Accenture.
Q: What’s the problem with Iberian logistics?
A: Imbalance. Industry and agriculture are in very specific areas, remote from their customers. And the tourists mostly go to the coastlines. Plus the sheer distance from the rest of Europe: Amsterdam is over a thousand miles from Barcelona. Almost everything has to be transported a long way?which is inefficient.
Q: Is there a solution?
A: The distance can’t be shrunk, but the efficiency can be improved. Too many vehicles run full in one direction and then return empty. Agoratrans, which we and supply-chain-planning software company Manugistics helped to create in conjunction with equity partners from the industrial and retail sectors, aims to remedy that. It enables trucks to run full both ways. Trucks taking beer from brewery Damm to discount retailer Dia, for example, may return laden with roofing tiles or pipes. Agoratrans began operating in January and was achieving 200 truckloads a day within three months.
Q: But transportation exchanges are nothing new. We have them in the United States.
A: But not like this. It’s not a public exchange, where anyone can post a load. It is a collection of private exchanges where carriers and shippers can interact using a single private-exchange view or a multiple exchange view. Every individual exchange has its own Agoratrans management team providing support.
It’s a different business model?a cooperative venture among known and trusted partners, complete with load planning and electronic payment services. The whole transaction remains within the exchange.