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SmartPort MD Michiel Jak and his team are not tired of bringing the message across that the SmartPort Community aims at being in the forefront of question driven research and development of innovative solutions for the port trade and industry. That is why Jak and his team are involved in the development of the ‘dating app’ Truck Tinder. It is to become the IT tool for effective truck platooning from port reclamation area Maasvlakte 2 onto the hinterland. All is done for the benefit of effective road haulage within and outside the port of Rotterdam.

Practice in the United States shows that it is technically viable. Budweiser and Otto have their goods transported via autonomous trucks in a kind of train on motorways. The only thing needed a parking area to combine trucks into a queue of about three to five trucks and uncouple the last truck in that queue on another parking lot the moment the driver has to deliver the goods to their final destination. One of the advantages is that the truck driver in this truck can take its rest during the distance the truck platoon has to cover. Estimates have it that truck platooning could save about €5,000 per truck annually, through 10% reduction of fuel use.

Jak’s idea for truck platooning in the Rotterdam port area came up during a staff outing to Maasvlakte: “It is a matter of economy of scale. A data exchange box needs to be installed in the truck, which is rather expensive. That is why we aim at having at least a hundred truck platoons a day driving on the A15 motorway in 2020. In total, there should be three hundred trucks carrying six hundred containers covering the distance daily to operate cost effective.”

He adds that a so-called dating app is another condition to make truck platooning happen cost efficiently. It is a tool for drivers to exchange logistic data and to make appointments with each other to drive together. It is viable on Maasvlakte Plaza; the parking area with quite a few convenient driver facilities, such as showers, a place to eat and drink and, if needed, the place for tyre maintenance and an additional petrol station. It is a safe place to stay overnight and also the future place to ‘date’ for truck platooning.