Ecomotive - Archive

Innovation the way out of the Covid crisis



As we get deeper into the New Year, there is a great need to assess the economic impact of the Covid crisis on the entire transport area

Paolo Castiglia

As we get deeper into the New Year, there is a great need to assess the economic impact of the Covid crisis on the entire transport area. The thermometer is, as always, the road haulage sector. The 2020 industrial vehicle market recorded consecutive double-digit losses of 40% and 63% on a monthly basis from March to June, followed by recoveries ranging between 23% and 46% between July and November, with the sole exception of October (+1.2%).

"In the interest of the national economy - according to Paolo Starace, president of Unrae's industrial vehicles section - no Italian company can afford to be late in adapting to the changes taking place, especially if it operates in strategic sectors such as transport. Therefore, Italy cannot ignore the need to create the right conditions for Italian haulers to be able to compete on equal terms in the international arena. Efficient bureaucracy, streamlined regulations, planning and a political concern that is neither episodic nor pretextual, are the priorities facing the legislator".

This is a volatile market, "subject to fluctuations that can be explained - says Starace - by the absence of a nationwide system that facilitates a programmed renovation of the national fleets, and by the lack of support and development policies capable of really tackling the reasons for which Italian road transporters have been suffering for decades the competition of international companies: the many attempts made over time, evidently with little conviction, to rationalize the transport sector in the country have led to the disappearance of thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises. The remaining ones, on the other hand, have failed to create economies of scale to enable them to provide adequate resources and modern technologies designed to reduce operating costs and enhance competitiveness on the market ".

According to market observers also the logistics sector is changing its parameters, and with that also the relationships between the different modalities of transport. In the near future, road transport will likely have to modify its main areas of use, and vehicle configurations and types will change accordingly.

And speaking of changes, the sudden outbreak of the Covid pandemic has prompted the entire automotive and logistics supply chain to rethink its model.

For example, regarding the Covid vaccine distribution, which in this historical phase appears to be decisive, one of the main producers of temperature-controlled containers, Peli BioThermal, has developed a specific container that can guarantee temperatures ranging between -20° to -80°. This represents an evolution of the CredoCube, which could not go lower than -50°C. To maintain these temperatures, this container uses both phase change materials and dry ice, ensuring a controlled temperature from 72 to 144 hours. Depending on the size, the load capacity varies from 1 to 96 litres or, if pallets are involved, from 371 to 1686 litres. This solution is suitable for short-term storage, transport from production facilities to where the vaccine is used as well as daily replenishment in remote areas.

Major news also from Amazon, currently in the process of diversifying its delivery strategies: after having leased more than eighty cargo aircraft from Atsg, Atlas Air, GE Capital Aviation Services and Subìn Country, the online giant begun to acquire its own aircrafts. The first was purchased in 2020 by the subsidiary Services. A B767 previously used as a passenger plane by WstJey and now being converted into a cargo plane at IAI in Tel Aviv. At the end of December 2020, the multinational e-commerce company acquired seven more B767-300ERs passenger aircraft from Delta, three of which are already being converted.

And the logistics is now also being managed with tools that can open up new and potentially lucrative market niches: DSV has carried out a pilot project on the use of drones inside warehouses to carry out the inventory, stating that it has been successfully completed. For this reason, the Danish logistics company is announcing that it will extend the use of autonomous drones across several platforms. "These drones can locate the exact position of the goods and we have verified this with the information in our system. This helps us to improve the quality of the inventory," explained Luca Graf, senior director of Innovation at DSV, "and tests have shown that much of the manual counting can be avoided reducing margins of error”.

back to archive