Difficult approaches, incomplete delivery papers, increased waiting times, no waiting room or even a toilet, lack of heating, language barriers... these are just some of the many problems truck drivers face every day in the course of loading and unloading their vehicles. The result: an acute truck driver shortage that has existed for years. The discontent is constantly communicated in the media, but rarely reaches those who can make changes.
In 2020, the situation for truck drivers continued to worsen significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying further restriction of facilities. That is why the logistics service provider Rhenus Transport and the heavy goods forwarder Universal Transport, with whom Rhenus also cooperates in a joint venture, joined forces with other companies in March 2020 to formulate an appeal for more tolerable working conditions for truck drivers. "What started as an appeal in East Westphalia quickly gained momentum. German mainstream media such as ZDF, Stern and Bild reported on the adverse conditions and our appeal," says Holger Dechant, Managing Director of the Universal Transport Group and co-signatory of the appeal.
In bilateral talks with the transport and industry committees of the East Westphalia Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Logistics Initiative, the development of a ramp rating app was started. The declared goal of all those involved, emphasises Sascha Hähnke, Managing Director of Rhenus Transport, was to reach the right contacts: "We deliberately did not want to engage in any bashing or make the criticism public. The industry has been suffering from negative reporting for far too long. Instead, we wanted to give ramp operators the opportunity to move to the top of a top 20 or top 50 list through good reviews."
After further research, Sascha Hähnke and Holger Dechant then experienced the surprise: The ETM-Verlag, publisher of titles such as trans aktuell, eurotransport.de and FERNFAHRER, had also noticed the complaints of truck drivers that had been received there for years and was already working on a ramp rating app in parallel. As a result, Rhenus, Universal Transport and others involved decided to join ETM-Verlag and combine their efforts for the project.
The result is impressive: since 3 May 2021, the ramp guide has been a fully-functional component of the already established FERNFAHRER Truck Stops App. The application, with 185,000 downloads and 40,000 sessions per month, is available in 13 languages and is already providing truck drivers with an overview of truck stops, loading points and truck stops, including current opening hours and a feedback function.
The ramp guide now offers the additional functions of highlighting the daily opening times of the ramps, photo documentation of the access conditions as well as local information and the rating of the ramps in the five-star system. "Our app is used by drivers as well as haulage companies, dispatch as well as ramp operators," reports Thomas Gutmann, Head of Business Development & Intelligence as well as member of the management of ETM-Verlag. "We make it possible for all parties involved to benefit from the use. But that only works if everyone also participates."
It is also already possible to connect to external systems, such as dispatching apps and transport management systems. "The hope is that we will soon see regular rankings of the best ramp and loading stations, with ramp operators vying for the top spots," says Sascha Hähnke. "As a logistics company that both provides drivers and operates ramps itself, this is a special incentive for us!"
You can find more information about the ramp guide here: https://www.etm.de/rampenguide/
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Picture: Matthias Leo/Spedition Girr