The first Collaborative Control Tower for logistics

Up to 20% less carbon emissions, combined with even greater productivity


In 2009, the World Economic Forum calculated that 1 in 4 trucks on the road are empty, while those that are not utilise on average a mere 57% of their capacity.

So, two companies driving the same route with half-empty trucks would be better served by sharing 1 truck between them? As a matter of fact, our society is rapidly evolving in this very direction: more and more we think about working together to cut costs and boost efficiency. The only problem is: competing companies are not accustomed to sharing resources - yet.

That is where Ahlers comes in. With the know-how and experience to bring otherwise competing partners together, we bring the future of logistics within reach. And we do so via the sector’s first Collaborative Control Tower, developed in collaboration with the University of Antwerp spin-off, Tri-Vizor.

Sven Verstrepen, Head of Ahlers Supply Network Innovation & Analytics: “We have access to a database with over 2 million European freight movements. Which means we have a very accurate and complete picture of which companies can load together or use each other’s return trip.”

The barriers to real collaboration, however, are not so much technical in nature as psychological. What if the company I work with is late in delivering my stock? How is the cost of fuel divided? Who takes responsibility for what? Collaboration can raise many questions. But Ahlers/Tri-Vizor takes care of all the practicalities up to and including the full legal framework. We coordinate each step of the collaboration in order to maximise efficiency and profitability for all parties. 

Why horizontal collaboration works 

Sven Verstrepen: “By collaborating ‘horizontally’, companies can often achieve up to 20% reductions in CO2 emissions, while also cutting logistics costs, sometimes by more than 10%. The profits generated through collaboration are divided according to the principles of game theory: the partner most prepared to adapt its schedule to that of the other receives the largest portion of the profits.”

Ahlers/Tri-Vizor has access to a database with over 2 million European freight movements

But the gains for companies are not just financial. Collaboration also improves the flexibility of the logistics flow due to the higher frequency of deliveries.

Sven Verstrepen: “We discovered that two pharmaceuticals companies, Baxter and UCB, had 6 destinations in Eastern Europe in common. One drove back and forth on a weekly basis, the other every 10 days. As a result of collaboration, they now drive together, sometimes up to twice per week. So the delivery frequency has increased while the actual costs for each partner have gone down.”

What about antitrust laws?

As they carry out the same kinds of transport to the same destinations, direct competitors are often the best candidates for collaboration. But from a legal point of view, cooperation between competitors is a delicate matter, for antitrust laws prohibit the exchange of certain information between competitors. 

Hence the advantage of a truly neutral and objective partner such as Ahlers/Tri-Vizor. Provided the collaboration takes place via us, full compliance with the law can be assured. We play the role of trustee, preventing the exchange of sensitive data between them. A good example of a collaboration made possible by Ahlers is that between Nestlé and PepsiCo. As a result, the two companies now even share a warehouse.

Is horizontal collaboration for everyone? 

When it comes to collaboration on the logistics front, not all companies are compatible with one another. Which is why Ahlers and Tri-Vizor thoroughly analyse each company’s potential on the basis of objective data. Every successful collaboration is the result of a process: Is there sufficient trust? Are the prospective partners compatible with one another economically, operationally, strategically, culturally? 

We believe that the sharing of loading and storage space between companies will soon be the norm. Because in many cases, it is quite simply the only avenue still left to further optimise the distribution chain. And because the advantages are simply too great to ignore. 

Want to know more about the possibilities of collaboration? Want to calculate your company’s potential savings? Let's talk!



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