3 Questions to Alexander Geis, CEO of SAF-HOLLAND
Alexander Geis,

With transport volumes continuing to grow worldwide, online commerce has emerged as one of the key drivers. What should be done to master these growing volumes? How can commercial vehicle suppliers contribute to a solution? These three questions have been addressed to Alexander Geis, CEO of SAF-HOLLAND.


Are digital offers in online retailing still leading to growing transport volumes?

For several years now, we have been seeing tremendous demand for tractors and the corresponding trailers in the world’s most important commercial vehicle markets – including those in Europe and North America. Online commerce, in particular, has been one of the driving forces behind this trend, not only in terms of freight transport over the last mile, but also in long-­distance transport from one distribution center to another, or from a port terminal to a distribution center.


The growing demand for transport is being met with limited transport capacity. Do you see any solutions to this?

There are several factors to consider, starting with relatively simple things like avoiding empty runs. The proportion of empty runs overall is still very high. For example, in Germany, around 260 million fully loaded runs are countered by more than 150 million empty runs – meaning more than a third of all journeys are made empty. This makes neither ecological nor economic sense and places an unnecessary burden on the ­infrastructure. Digitization and networking using logistics platforms can help by, for example, identifying free loading space capacity and possible partial loads and connect them with optimal route guidance.


How can suppliers help increase the availability of transport capacity?

Relatively simple technical systems can already prevent these types of unscheduled downtimes for trailers. When the axles are equipped with sensors and networked with one another, then we can easily determine the overall technical condition of a trailer and report it to the fleet operator. Lastly, automation and assistance systems can reduce the pressure on the driver and increase availability. Automatic coupling systems, for example, are the solutions we are working on because the driver no longer has to maneuver between the cab and trailer in wind and bad weather in order to connect trucks and trailers. Instead, he can do it conveniently from the driver’s seat. These types of convenient features also make the driving profession more attractive – and can help counteract the driver shortage.

Conversation with Thomas Horst

Thomas Horst is the Chief Sales Officer at Hermes, a transport company that operates around 3,500 tractors and around 8,000 transfer platforms in Germany alone. Horst is also an active member of the Board of Directors of the German Federal Association of Parcel and Express Logistics.

Thomas Horst,
Chief Sales Officer, Hermes

In 2018, online commerce in Germany grew to EUR 63 billion. How do you see the development from here on out?

Horst: As a subsidiary of the Otto Group, Hermes has had a long tradition of delivering goods purchased through catalogs. Today, with online retailing, everything is much faster and more convenient, and customers have come to appreciate these benefits. Online commerce in Germany alone is projected to double over the next seven years.

And how does this look from a global perspective?

Horst: Even on a global basis, we are expecting transport volumes to increase. In the large growth markets such as China and India, there is a growing middle class emerging that is increasingly ordering goods online.

What solutions do you see for more efficiency in ­online commerce?

Horst: We need even more accurate forecasting, for example through digital platforms, artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies. We need to go deeper and more precisely into the analysis. Actually, we need to know already in the winter what will be happening in the following summer.