"The CO3 project is really focused around teaching market players how to collaborate horizontally and then giving them repeatable methodologies and tools they can use - everything from legal frameworks to gain-sharing mechanisms to software," says Michael Bogen, managing director of Giventis International. "We want tools that not only enable collaboration but that enable it to scale," he says. For the purposes of this project, horizontal collaboration is defined as shippers sharing assets with one another, Bogen says. This could be something as simple as a pairing a highway front haul with another company's back haul or sharing capacity in a co-loading environment. However, the "holy grail for CO3, at least as far as the European Union is concerned" is moving full truckloads off the road and onto more efficient and carbon-friendly modes like intermodal or short sea. This possibility, along with the desire to reduce road congestion, is what got the EU and its funding involved, Bogen says. Politically and culturally, he notes, there is more consensus in the EU than in the U.S. around reducing both congestion and carbon emissions. Europe lags the U.S., however, in terms of a well developed intermodal freight system, Bogen says. While widespread, Europe's railroads are geared toward passengers, he notes. "The U.S. is just the opposite."
Giventis was brought in at the beginning of the CO3 project to prove the economic benefits of horizontal collaboration. It developed methodologies and solutions that now provide the collaboration framework. These encompass a three-step process that enables participants to identify opportunities for collaboration, find synergies between companies and prepare for a collaborative relationship, which includes creating rules of engagement and common standards and integrating different systems, Bogen says. When partners are ready to execute and actually synchronize movements, solutions from another technology company, Tri-Vizor, come into play, he says.
CO3 currently has a number of proof-of-concept case studies under way, says Bogen. These pilots have produced significant savings in carbon, and perhaps more importantly, in cost, he says. "Carbon reduction is great, but companies also need to see cost savings and efficiency improvements, or they won't be interested," he says.
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