E-Thematic
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Contribution to EU policies


Throughout Europe new initiatives in the area of e-logistics and e-fulfilment are undertaken and new applications are being developed. However, the use of the latter remains geographically fragmented and, as a consequence, it is important for the Commission and the Member States to highlight best practices and disseminate research and practical results and, develop a pan-European view and approach. In addition to this fragmentation, a sectoral segmentation and compartmentalisation exists. Applications, which could have substantial generic benefits, are being implemented and used in a sector specific manner. Cross-sectoral fertilisation does not happen. Therefore, a European and cross-sectoral approach is a prime condition to reap the full benefits of e-fulfilment.

 

The scope of logistics is becoming also more and more pan-European. In other words, European rules and regulations and framework conditions have a higher impact on logistics configurations than national ones. As a consequence, the development of e-fulfilment in Europe needs to be stimulated and promoted on a European level. e-fulfilment is mainly developed through the utilisation of a mix of public and private physical and data infrastructures. Public physical and data infrastructures supersede the competencies of private companies and even national governments. They are more and more developed and co-ordinated on a European level.

 

e-Thematic will have an impact in different sectors. Freight transport policy is an obvious beneficiary. Each day, an average of 7,500km of the road network (or 10%) are congested in the EU. The total external costs related to traffic jams are estimated at 0.5% of the Union’s GDP. Under current conditions, these costs will double by 2010.

 

Road transport has increased its market share (expressed in tkm) from 31% in 1970 to 43.7% in 1998. The market shares of rail and inland waterways have dropped from respectively 21.1% and 7.7% in 1970 to 8.4% and 4.2% in 1998. It is expected that road transport will continue to gain market share in the years to follow.

 

e-Fulfilment also targets the integration of public and private data and information infrastructures based on the implementation of innovative applications and the use of e-commerce. Such integration allows for an optimal routing and transport reduction. The latter is explained by the fact that transport considerations will shift from an operational to a tactical and even strategic level in view of the fact that e-fulfilment will enhance the visibility and control of external company flows. The former is explained by the fact that the integration of public and private freight and traffic data will make that routing parameters will become more encompassing and not only based on price considerations. Elements of time and flow fluidity will be taken into consideration in a mode independent manner.

 

In short, e-fulfilment will contribute to the implementation of sustainable transport use based on efficient software suites.

 

e-Thematic will also have repercussions for consumers and the industry, at large. e-Fulfilment will improve the leanness of European supply chains, driving down costs and enhancing market efficiency and transparency. In the US, Cisco and Hewlett Packard were able to reduce supply chain costs with 20-30% by the implementation of e-Logistics tools. The gains for the end consumers will probably be even higher. To conclude, e-fulfilment provides competitive advantage for companies and cuts away costs to the benefit of the end consumer.


To conclude, the implementation of a European integrated logistics approach requires a co-ordinated development of, and research on a European level due to the substantial regional and market differences in the EU. Without such an approach pan-European logistics is not possible. Moreover, the added value of e-fulfilment can only be demonstrated to governments, industries and the public at European level in view of the pan-European characteristics of the logistics market. Another element is that the experience of the Member States and their industries and researchers is undervalued and is in need of cross-fertilisation, which is again only possible on a Community-level.


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