MAN invests in Silicon Valley logistics startup

Truck brand puts funds into FR8 startup with eye to bringing it to Europe

MAN invests in Silicon Valley logistics startup
MAN SE and MAN Truck & Bus AG CEO Joachim Drees.


Volkswagen subsidiary MAN Truck & Bus has invested US$8.5 million in US-based logistics startup FR8 Revolution Inc which will launch in the second quarter of 2016.

Based in Silicon Valley, the startup, pronounced ‘freight’, promises an operating system-style solution for the transportation industry that will run in real-time and encompass shippers, carriers, and truck drivers.

The open-source development aims to account for the varied information and logistics processes each of the different legs use across the supply chain by accommodating tailored apps for each of the targeted groups.

According to a MAN Tuck & Bus statement, with the new solution "shippers, for example, can view current freight rates, locate the truck’s position, and manage invoices."

"Carriers, for example, can view freight plans of all trucks on one screen only; in addition, they can enter free loading capacities on the electronic freight exchange or manage the drivers’ time behind the wheel and rest periods.

"The drivers are connected online with the carriers, can view their route planning and change them if necessary; they also receive information on when the next visit to a workshop is due."

Choosing to invest in FR8, compared to the other new startups entering the real-time mobile logistics industry, MAN SE and MAN Truck & Bus AG CEO Joachim Drees says this one could be a viable solution in Europe, where it is based.

"The logistics industry is not working as economically as it could," he says.

"All parties involved still have limited access to real-time data. Where are the trucks currently located? Do they have free loading capacities? What are the current prices? What is the current driving period of the truck driver?

"To this date, almost 35 per cent of the freight volume is not used at all or not used efficiently which is neither economical nor environmentally friendly.

"In collaborating with FR8, we can open up new possibilities for changing the system in Europe."

The investment from MAN and its parent Volkswagen Truck & Bus is part of its focus on connecting its trucks to the online world, it says, backed by its decision to only manufacturer MAN and Scania trucks with online capabilities from next year.

The shift is part of the "fundamentally changing the world of transportation," Volkswagen Truck & Bus CEO Andreas Renschler says.

"Connected services help our customers to be more productive and competitive while opening up completely new business areas," he says.

"We will be changing more and more from a truck manufacturer into a provider of intelligent transportation solutions."



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