Robert.Jervis_43227 Apr 25

A new frontier?

A new frontier? image

First border crossing to use United Nations E-CMR electronic consignment note involving the UK, France and The Netherlands

A pilot project grouping France, the Netherlands and the UK was handled in February and March involving Transports FIOLET in France, International Road Ferry in the Netherlands, Brian Yeardley Continental in the UK, under the supervision of FNTR, FTA, TLN/ Beurtvaartadres and the UK Department for Transport.

It marks the use of e-CMR with the first ever border crossing with multiple countries on mainland Europe, using the electronic consignment notes on this route. Part of a wider strategy to digitise trade facilitation systems, it offers improved profitability, efficiency and supply chain visibility for the logistical chain and is better for the environment.

The UK supports initiatives to reduce the administrative burden for hauliers and recognises the merits of the solution and its advantages in terms of controls.

John Lucy, Manager of International Transport & Trade Procedures at FTA, the organisation representing the interests of the logistics sector, commented:

“FTA is thrilled to be at the forefront of the next revolution in cross border transport and trade: the digitalisation of paper based documents. Digital technology has reshaped the way industries and governments operate for the last 20 years and international trade is no exception; efficiency, reliability and cost effectiveness of operations have been closely linked to the ongoing process of digitalisation. The anticipated increase in EU customs documentation requirements post-Brexit will accelerate this digital development; we are already seeing EU trials of e TIR and e ATA carnets to enable future frictionless cross border travel for freight. Underpinning this development will be the requirement for an electronic, internationally accepted consignment note; the e CMR will be at the core of this process.”

The paper based CMR consignment note is an official document and contract between a consignor, carrier and addressee. It provides a paper trail of the logistics movement and is normally the sole document that the drivers of the trucks have in relation to the load they carry.

With e-CMR, shippers or transport operators will be able to electronically input, store and exchange logistics data, in real time, within the logistical chain. The timely recording and exchange of logistics data means that users instantly receive information on the goods being transported, so any required subsequent actions, such as initiating legal processes, invoicing or even accident response procedures happen faster and at less cost. Switching to digital solutions also reduces the environmental impact of global trade, using less paper and providing data to optimize the logistical chain. It minimises the potential for human error and can adopt multi-language platforms for seamless international application.

The pilot, facilitated through the TransFollow e-CMR platform, was handled in cooperation with FNTR (France), FTA (United Kingdom), TLN/ Beurtvaartadres (The Netherlands) and the Department for Transport in the UK. It is an important new milestone for the e-CMR deployment, proving that it works and is simple to implement and use also for cross channel logistics to and from the UK.

The next step is for the UK to evaluate the Convention and once decided, ratify with the United Nations the e-CMR protocol which could be in effect by the end of 2019