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Since 2013, Simacan has supported leading Dutch retailers, parcel distributors and transport companies by optimising real-time information. It’s now set to expand internationally thanks to a grant from the European Commission.

Martijn Loot, Simacan’s Senior Product Manager, has been talking to Auto Futures.

He tells us: “Simacan is a platform, an intelligent ecosystem for data exchange and collaboration. This way, journey data is enriched with high-quality traffic information and is made possible through automation and real-time processing, adjustments and
communication during the execution of the transport.

“Simacan makes integration possible with existing logistics systems such as planning systems, on-board computers, driver apps and freight sensors and creates an integral image, and adjustment options, for all stakeholders in the transport execution process.”

The Dutch company recently announced it had been selected for a grant of more than 2 million euros to help scale up the Simacan platform and transform it into a pan-European mobility solution. 

Rob Schuurbiers, founder and CEO of Simacan, says: “In the first years of our existence we focused entirely on gaining insights. Ahold/Delhaize has been a customer from the start and in recent years PostNL, Spar, Jumbo, bloomon, Daily Fresh and ANWB have also successfully deployed our platform. In recent years, the focus has increasingly shifted to ‘steering together’. In other words: to optimise the transport operation.”

To implement its growth strategy, it’s now expecting to double its workforce over the next two years.

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“In 2030 you’ll see that there is a strong shift in driving ‘smart’ instead of driving at a high cost.”

In 2019, the Netherlands was named the top country in KPMG’s Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index (AVRI). The reason – mainly because it is working with neighbouring countries to launch huge platoons of driverless trucks along the so-called ‘Tulip Corridor’ routes that connect North Sea shipping ports to Germany’s industrial Ruhr Valley.

Simacan has been working with the chip giant Intel to help make this happen.

Loot tells us: “The platoons are enabled by Simacan Control Tower, a cloud-based logistics solution that uses Intel Xeon Scalable processors to analyse huge amounts of real-time data. Intel-powered Simacan Control Tower software delivers a detailed operational picture featuring vehicles of multiple carriers. It includes traffic and vehicle condition updates, predicted arrival times, and automatic geofence detection.

“Based on this information, Simacan shares real-time notifications on planning, routing and arrival times, and delivers post-trip analyses based on the data gathered.”

Norberto Carrascal, business consumption director, EMEA territory, Intel Corporation, adds: “The Tulip Corridor is a very tangible illustration that data is the ‘new oil.’ The volume of data involved bringing truck platooning to reality demonstrates the ability of Intel technology to power the world’s data-driven needs.”

Results from the initial trials back in 2018 indicated the potential benefits of the platooning approach. Traffic flow for the platoons was improved by 10 to 17 percent. Applied to the working lifespan of a truck of 175,000 kilometres, this equates to a saving of 6,000 litres of diesel per truck.

Loot explains: “Simacan users achieve demonstrable efficiency gains and contribute to sustainability goals by minimising the number of kilometres per journey. For example, waiting times are reduced by 15%, there is a 50% increase in delivery performance and planning productivity increases by 25%.”

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Looking ahead…

Loot wrapped up our interview with Auto Futures by offering up his thoughts on what fleet transportation will look like by the year 2030.

“Remember one important thing. Transportation will still be a cost and the consumer will be more demanding in general. These worlds of contracts will only become bigger. This means that supply chains need to be shorter and more efficient, because the consumer expects more.”

He adds: “Of course we all know that we will move from ICE to alternative vehicle types but this is not the main issue in fleet transportation. The question will be how data can help us drive fewer kilometers, with fully loaded vehicles while facing more government regulations (restriction zones, specific entry times etc), but still meet these increasing customer expectations. In 2030 you’ll see that there is a strong shift in ‘driving smart’ instead of driving at a high cost. You’ll therefore see more collaboration in 2030.

“Big retailers such as Tesco, Lidl and Sainsbury’s are at least thinking of, or are already combining parts of their transport operations. To do this in 2030, they do need collecting data and using it throughout the full supply chain now,” Loot concludes.

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