Challenges in robotic semi-truck technology

TIP now offers moving floor semi-trailer solutions

If you had read Finland’s Kuljetusnet in March 2018, you would know that Chalmers and Volvo Group’s researchers have developed a driverless, autonomous trailer driven by an electric-powered dolly. You might naturally think that autonomous trucks and trailers will be seen on the road in the next few months.

However, there are still issues relating to technology, road infrastructure and other autonomous vehicle matters that need to be resolved before autonomous trucks grace our roads.


We are still at a relatively experimental stage of autonomous trucks. On open roads, these trucks remain semi-autonomous, requiring the presence of a driver to override the technology if necessary.

To navigate the traffic, roads and the surrounding environment safely, autonomous trucks need to use a selection of sensors fixed to various parts of the truck and trailer. Different companies are experimenting with different technologies. For example, Uber ATG, a division of Uber, which seeks to add hardware to existing semi-trucks to convert them into autonomous trucks, uses LIDAR technology (source: MIT Technology Review). TuSimple, a company with dual headquarters in China and the US is focused on technology that relies on cameras (source: Digital Trends). As The Economist points out, each of these technologies currently has strengths and weaknesses: “Cameras are cheap and see road markings, but cannot measure distance; radar can measure distance and velocity but cannot see in fine detail; LIDAR provides fine detail but is expensive and confused by the snow.”


With the data from its sensors, the technology needs to identify obstacles surrounding the truck including people, road signs, and other vehicles, predict what will happen and then respond. Autonomous vehicle technology is now capable of handling standard traffic situations and obstacles but still ill-equipped to handle exceptional traffic situations such as a broken-down car on the roadside or a fallen tree. Until these exceptional situations are mastered, there will be question marks over the safety of the autonomous truck technology.

We know that the technology for autonomous driving and logistics will be ready for daily use when the companies developing them can demonstrate that their sensors and code can match the skills and experience of professional truck drivers.

Road infrastructure

Until autonomous vehicle technology can handle exceptional circumstances in traffic flow, its application for trucks and logistics will be limited to specific types of road infrastructure, particularly in areas already been mapped out in detail and which have decent weather.

There are already autonomous trucks operating in very controlled environments such as shipping ports and large industrial sites. Container ports are ideal as they are sectioned off from the public for safety reasons and for customs purposes. Cargo ships load and unload in very consistent and linear ways. For example, in addition to testing on the roads in Arizona, TuSimple, a developer of autonomous truck technology is testing its technology in ports (see video). (source: Digital Trends)

A Chinese company Suning Logistics has just completed driving tests for its autonomous heavy-duty truck, “Strolling Dragon,” in Shanghai under “logistics campus tests and highway scenarios”.  (source: Daily Mail)

Also looking to the future is start-up Starsky Robotics. It has a vision of trucks driving autonomously on motorways and then being guided into urban areas remotely by people in monitoring centres.

Uber ATG envisages autonomous trucks operating solely on motorways with human drivers in trucks or light commercial vehicles loading the autonomous trucks at the start of their motorway journey and unloading them at the end of it, to complete the last mile delivery in urban areas. (source: Wired) To turn this approach into reality, our current road infrastructure will need to be adapted and/or rebuilt to accommodate autonomous vehicles and logistics. This is an area that is being researched in Europe by the EU under its CARTRE (“Coordination of Automated Road Transport Deployment for Europe”) project.

Other autonomous vehicle matters

Other matters still to be resolved include the issue of driverless technology and liability for insurance cover. EU standards for truck and trailer maintenance including testing for annual MoT need to be adjusted for autonomous driving technology. The advent of semi-autonomous trucks will require the alteration of the current truck driving licence syllabus. (Source of inspiration: Autoexpress)


When will autonomous truck technology become mainstream? This is the perennial question. An article entitled “Trucking and logistics will lead the autonomous vehicle revolution” in cites the predictions of the Center for Automotive Research in Michigan, USA. It foresees self-driving vehicles which fit the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Level 4 (high automation with driver) and Level 5 (total automation) autonomous operation rankings as unlikely to reach 4% of new vehicle sales by 2030 but possibly reaching 55% by 2040.

Flexible trailer capacity, trailers equipped with the latest technology – the keys to success

Whether or not the world is ready for semi-autonomous or autonomous trucks, there will always be demand for transporters to carry large volumes of products in their trailers.  Having flexible trailer capacity with trailers that are equipped with the latest trailer technology are the keys to playing a successful part in the transport industry.

Ask TIP how you can benefit from our 60.000+ trailer fleet by contacting us via this form.

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Is it time to start an electric vehicle fleet?


The European Commission and European cities are rolling out urban planning initiatives to “drive” down levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and increase the number of low emission zones (LEZ) in major towns. In parallel, European governments are creating financial incentives for freight transport companies to gradually switch over to electric fleets, particularly for last mile delivery. When will your fleet bring on board some electric vehicles?

EU initiatives

FREVUE  is one of the flagship EU campaigns to boost the introduction of electric freight vehicles to demonstrate and evaluate innovative urban logistics solutions in some of Europe’s largest cities including Amsterdam, Lisbon, London, Madrid, Milan, Oslo, Rotterdam and Stockholm.  The Holy Grail for Frevue is to achieve “essentially CO2 free city logistics in major urban centers by 2030” through electric vehicles (EVs).

European cities have created also about 200 low emission zones. London has had them since 2008. However, as a Transport & Environment analysis noted in FleetEurope the standards vary dramatically in cities across Europe from an Ultra LEZ planned for London in 2019 to the non-existence of LEZs  in many Eastern European cities.

The sticks for adopting electric vehicles …

European cities have implemented their own initiatives, which often include reducing combustion-engined vehicles, tailored to their own cityscapes including:

Brussels has already adopted a law banning all combustion engine vehicles at critical levels of pollution while making alternative modes of transport free of charge. It now wants to ban all diesel vehicles from entering its city limits by 2030. By 2025, it will ban diesel vehicles below Euro 6 and may include other fossil fuel-powered vehicles. (source: Electrive)

Madrid confirmed that, as of November 2018, it will bar all non-resident vehicles from a zone that includes the entire city center. Only cars belonging to residents, zero-emissions delivery vehicles, taxis and public transit will be able to circulate in this zone. From February 2019, an automated system including cameras will monitor the situation and issue €90 fines to owners of vehicles that break these rules. (source: CityLab)

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgois campaigning for cleaner air and has discussed various measures including free public transport. Paris is banning all combustion-powered vehicles by 2030 and putting an end to diesel-engined traffic by the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. (source:  Electrive)

The carrots…

Fortunately, running in parallel, there are government initiatives to address congestion and environmental issues that encourage road transport companies to adopt electric vehicles for the last mile delivery./ Here are a few examples:

In June 2018, Germany’s Ministry of Transport will be unveiling a funding programme, the bmvi, to encourage the adoption of battery and fuel cell electric trucks as well as those running on alternative fuels. From July 2018, German hauliers will be able to apply for grants ranging from €12,000 to €40,000 depending on the trucks’ weight, to a maximum of €500,000 per company. The German government will also exempt electric trucks from road tolls from 2019 onwards.  (source: Electrive)

In the Netherlands, the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment offers a €3,000 subsidy on the purchase of all-electric taxis or delivery vans. This subsidy increases to €5,000 per vehicle in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht, and the Arnhem-Nijmegen metropolitan area. (source: Wikipedia)

The UK government started giving “Plug-in Grants” to buyers of electric vehicles in 2012. Under this scheme, buyers of low-emission vans can receive up to £8,000 in government subsidies. This scheme is likely to continue until 2020. (source: FleetNews)

Is it time to start an electric vehicle fleet?

As governments and cities work together to reduce emissions and improve congestion through reimagining city centre planning and fostering the adoption of electric vehicles, it is worth fleet managers investigating how they might benefit from national and local government subsidies to help them add electric trucks and vans to their fleets.

Experience electric delivery with TIP

TIP can provide its customers with eLCVs on a short-term rental of less than a year or on a long-term leasing basis (1 to 10 years). The long-term lease includes maintenance and repair. Customers benefit from TIP’s extensive fleet management experience, its network of workshops across Europe that can service electric vehicles; its expertise in telematics and remote access maintenance; reporting. Meanwhile, have a look at TIP France to discover their pioneering work with eLCV’s.

For more information on how you can experience electric delivery through TIP’s eLCV offer, please contact your local TIP Trailer Services manager using this form.


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Summer is coming. Is your trailer ready for the traffic?


Summer is here and as usual, there will be significantly more traffic on European roads. A little bit of detective work can help your trailer fleet avoid the more congested cities. Keeping your trailers in mint condition will minimise unexpected trailer breakdowns in traffic jams.

Increasing traffic

Traffic seems destined to keep growing. The World Economic Forum calculates that there are now 1 billion vehicles on the road globally, a number that could grow by 600 million by 2025. By 2050, it could rise as high as 4 billion. (source: Politico.EU). The UK government forecasts that traffic on England’s roads could increase by up to 55% by 2040. (source: ITSInternational)

Congestion and effective route planning

Delivering to customers in congested towns is part of being a successful road transport company. Having prior knowledge of congestion levels in such towns can help your drivers take the most efficient route planning decisions.

Europe’s most congested cities

INRIX, experts in connected car services and transportation analytics, researched 628 European cities for its INRIX 2017 Traffic Scorecard and found that Moscow is the most congested in Europe. Drivers spent 91 hours in traffic congestion at peak hours and 26% of their total drive time including peak and non-peak hours in congestion.  London is second in the list of Europe’s most congested cities with 74 hours (13% of total drive time in congestion), followed by Paris with 69 hours (13%), and Istanbul 59 hours (19%). The UK ranked in the top ten most congested countries in the world, the third most congested European country after Russia and Turkey.

Some improvements

Inrix notes that, in the UK, Scottish cities have made progress from 2016 with Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Edinburgh reducing peak hours in congestion by 20%, 15%, and 10% respectively. Similarly, in Germany, Heilbronn saw a 19% decrease from 45 to 38 hours per driver per year, taking it from second place in 2016 to seventh place in the 2017 German rankings. Munich remains the most congested Germany city (source: Inrix)

Traffic congestion solutions

French publication discusses some classic solutions. It reports that traffic congestion in the Ile-de-France area which includes Paris and its surroundings had risen dramatically in 2017. The solutions it proposes included improving public transport, installing more toll roads, encouraging remote working and car-sharing.

Congestion charges

ANew York Times article entitled “There are better ways to get around town” praised the innovative street designs of Amsterdam, Copenhagen, London and Stockholm, It also discussed the road congestion charges levied by London in 2003 and Stockholm three years later, with the aim of reducing traffic in their inner cities.

Asking drivers to pay an additional amount to the cost of tolls on already congested toll routes is one approach that the European Parliament is considering as a way of improving traffic flow on busy roads. (source: Cardisiac)

Smart lamppost revolution

An EU smart cities programme, Sharing Cities, is installing “smart lampposts” in six European cities including London, Lisbon, and Milan. These smart lampposts can collect information about parking availability. Sharing Cities believes this could be an “ingenious way” of reducing air pollution and road congestion. (source:

Trailer Maintenance ahead of peak summer traffic

Whilst trailer fleet operators cannot influence congestion on the roads, you can at least take control of your trailers that may get absorbed in peak summer traffic jams, by having a trailer maintenance programme in place. This will minimise the likelihood of experiencing an unexpected trailer breakdown.

A trailer needs constant care and attention.  Consider outsourcing the maintenance and repair management programme to reliable, well-qualified experts such as TIP Trailer Services.

TIP proposes a regularly scheduled trailer maintenance programme.  This will help you anticipate technical issues, keep costs under control and ensure that all trailers are fit for the road in the summer and throughout all the other seasons.

Key trailer maintenance services

The services provided by TIP’s trailer maintenance programme include servicing, repair, regulatory compliance such as MOT, compulsory tests and periodic equipment tests.

The programme also covers tyre maintenance services and access to our Europe-wide roadside assistance services solution 24/7, 365 days per year.  We can manage repairs through our fixed price damage repair process. TIP can also take responsibility for much of the non-core and time-consuming elements of your fleet administration.

Are you ready for the summer?

We are! Through our trailer maintenance programme, at TIP, we have a large pool of highly-qualified technicians available to conduct the maintenance of your trailers offering you peace of mind as you plan your staff holidays and prepare your trailer fleet for business over the summer. To find out more about TIP’s Trailer Maintenance and Repair Management services, please contact TIP via this form.


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Are you “Milking” this new business with flexible trailer rental?   

Are you “Milking” this new business with flexible trailer rental?                         

Most markets grow in unexpected ways, which can lead to new business opportunities for those who can read then exploit new trends.  The milk market is growing in unanticipated directions today, with the category “milk,” much to the dismay of dairy farmers, now also applied to plant-based dairy alternatives like soya or almond milk, which are rapidly gaining in popularity. Is your trailer fleet ready to “milk” this new opportunity? Trailer rental can help you by providing a flexible way to manage your fleet.

More milk

Milk is the top agricultural commodity globally in value terms. (source: Irish Farmers Journal) So important that the United Nations celebrated it with a World Milk Day on 01 June.  Today’s milk market is undergoing rapid change due to the fast-growing alternative milk segment.

In a Rabobank report entitled “Dare not to dairy – How the industry can respond to dairy-free,” Tom Bailey, RaboResearch Senior Analyst-Dairy says “Global demand for dairy is expected to grow by 2.5 percent for years to come, with non-fluid categories [sic: cheese, butter, etc] offsetting weak fluid milk sales.” However, this does not apply to retail sales of fluid milk in western Europe (a market worth US$ 18.6bn) and the US (US$ 12.5bn). They have fallen at an annual rate of 5 percent and 3 percent respectively in the last five years to 2017, according to Euromonitor.

Dare not to dairy

The same report notes that global sales for dairy alternatives have grown at a rate of 8 percent annually over the last ten years. In 2017, dairy-free milk sales of US$ 15.6 billion represented 12 percent of total fluid and alternative milk sales globally, according to Euromonitor. Underlying this trend are changing consumer perceptions of health, lifestyle choices, curiosity, and perceived sustainability. Millennials and Generation Z are driving this surge in demand. Rabobank comments that investment returns in dairy alternatives have been greater than in traditional dairy.

Flexible trailer capacity for new opportunities

The milk market is an interesting example of a growing and diversifying industry. It offers exciting opportunities for those road freight companies that can respond quickly to changes in demand because they have flexible cargo capacity.

Convert leads with confidence

If you know that you have easy potential access to a significant number of trailers through rental, you can take decisions on new business leads more quickly and with greater confidence.  Trailer rental gives you the power to expand or contract your business to suit market conditions without having the overheads of investing in, owning and maintaining trailers sitting for long periods in the yard when not in use. Another advantage of trailer rental is that you can bring on-stream different types of trailers for different applications to be it a tanker to transport milk or a double-decker to carry cars.

Trailer rental, well-established

Trailer rental is a well-established and popular practice among fleet operators. The process for renting a trailer is relatively simple and clear compared to raising capital to buy trailers outright. Purchasing new trailers can cost anything from €30,000 onwards.  Trailer purchases often require additional funding. This can exert pressure on your company’s balance sheet.

Trailer flexibility is king

Trailer flexibility is king with TIP trailer rental. TIP can provide its customers with preferential rental terms within lease contracts to increase or decrease the number of rented trailers as demand fluctuates, thus giving them greater peace of mind and a source of competitive advantage.

Let TIP maintain and repair your trailer

TIP includes a maintenance and repair management service in the trailer rental contract. During the maintenance and repair of your rental trailers, you can use our replacement trailers to ensure that interruptions to your business are kept to a minimum.

Roadside assistance is also part of the TIP trailer rental package. We can come to your rescue whether your trailer is on the way to Barcelona, Brussels, Budapest or any other European destination. Our Europe-wide breakdown recovery service operates 24/7 365 days per year.

A trailer for every task

TIP rents out trailers for every task including curtainsider/tilt, moving floor, flat, reefer, tanker, tipping and many other types of trailers as well as trucks.

Are you “milking” new business with flexible trailer solutions?

To find out how you can milk new business opportunities with TIP Trailer Services flexible trailer rental solutions, please contact us using this form.

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Are autonomous trucks the solution to driver shortage?

Are autonomous trucks the solution to driver shortage?

The arrival of autonomous trucks is getting closer to reality. When they roll along our motorways and into our towns in 2040, will that spell the end of the driver shortage?

Autonomous trucks in 2030, 2040, later?

There is not much consensus as to when the self-driving, autonomous truck will be a regular feature on our roads. José Viegas, former secretary of the International Transport Forum believes that this will take place within the next decade (source: Irish Times) whereas the USA’s Center for Automotive Research predicts that self-driving vehicles will only reach just over half of new vehicle sales by 2040. Steven E. Shladover, head of the Partners for Advanced Transportation Technology R&D programme at the University of California, Berkeley says that we are decades away from driverless trucks, citing road safety as the key barrier to adoption.  (source:

Gradual adoption

Many industry experts expect to see drivers in the truck cab for at least another 10 years, if not more, as the technology will not be 100% automated and will require a driver on hand to intervene when necessary. The introduction of the new technology, partly encouraged by truck manufacturers introducing the new autonomous driving technology on a gradual basis, will enable current drivers to enjoy easier, safer and more efficient driving conditions, to retrain and move over to the new technology.

Autonomous trucks: the solution to driver shortage?

There is a perfect storm of factors that make this question so significant for fleet operators. There is a significant worldwide truck driver shortage; the demand for road freight deliveries continues to rise with the trend for consumers to buy online, and the cost of employing a truck driver constitutes a significant part of the total cost of ownership of a truck. Autonomous trucks can reduce labour costs; keep running 24/7 without being constrained by driver rest time and driving distance limitations, save fuel and potentially be more efficient than human-operated trucks.

There are many different scenarios being discussed in the media ranging from talk of no driver shortage as many truck drivers lose their jobs to automation; one in which there is an increase in the demand for truck drivers and, finally, a more moderate stance in which drivers remain but their roles change.

No shortages

Among those organisations that believe there will be a dramatic decline in the number of jobs for drivers are, for example, the International Transport Forum which thinks that 2 million American and European truckers could be directly displaced by 2030 and Goldman Sachs which predicts trucker job losses of 25,000 per month in the USA as self-driving trucks roll out.

Further driver shortages

Among the more optimistic views for drivers’ futures are those presented by Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group in its recent research which finds that there may be an increase in trucking jobs as self-driving vehicles become adopted on a widespread basis. The Uber ATG vision is one in which self-driving trucks carry loads long distances on motorways between what Uber call “transfer hubs” where drivers then take over to complete the last mile delivery in urban areas.

Uber believes that efficient use of self-driving trucks will drive down transport costs and increase demand for freight carrying, which in turn will lead to more human drivers on the road to deliver in local areas. This scenario might also help make truck driving conditions more attractive including enabling drivers to drive shorter distances, spend more time with their families and friends and maintain more sociable working hours.

Viewing this issue through a different lens, Christian Laprot, president of the International Road Transport Union says that “Autonomous vehicles will help the haulage sector deal with the current shortage of drivers in many parts of the world” (source: Financial Times)


Among the skeptics about forecasts for driver job losses is Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs and communications at the Western States Trucking Association who told The AtlanticThere are so many things a driver does. I just don’t believe that you’re ever going to see, at least in the world that’s imagined now, this fully autonomous truck without anyone in it.” However, he does see the benefits of technological advances to improve truckers’ working conditions.

A shift in driver roles

There is at least one area of certainty for truck drivers in relation to self-driving trucks and their future employment: their roles will change as new technology is introduced. In a recent article “Trucking and logistics will lead the autonomous vehicle revolution” Jerry Hirsch, editor of Trucks.comsays that we will witness two complementary transitions. “One will be that of a truck to an autonomous device. The second will see the traditional truck driver change to a load manager or freight conductor.”

Hirsch acknowledges driver shortages in the short term and thinks that “Automation can help plug the gap, creating yet another economic incentive for the industry to push self-driving technology that can increase productivity.”

Robot drivers?

Maybe when self-driving trucks appear on the road, a human-like robot will sit behind the wheel. The sight of an empty truck driver seats might be too frightening for the general public.

Flexible trailer capacity and trailers equipped with the latest technology – the keys to success

Whether or not semi-autonomous or autonomous trucks will solve the driver shortage issue, there will always be demand for transporters to carry large volumes of products in their trailers.  Having flexible trailer capacity with trailers that are equipped with the latest trailer technology are the keys to playing a successful part in the transport industry. Ask TIP how you can benefit from our 60.000+ trailer fleet by contacting us via this form.

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Five reasons why trailer leasing is still attractive

The European economy is still growing, albeit at a slower pace, so continues to provide road hauliers with attractive business opportunities, mostly due to continued consumer adoption of online buying. Here are five reasons why you as a fleet manager should consider leasing your trucks and trailers rather than purchasing them outright.

  1. Trailer flexibility in uncertain times

In its spring 2018 economic report, the European Commission forecast that GDP growth in the euro area over 2018 will be 2.3%, marginally down on 2017’s 2.3% and drop to 2.0% in 2019. The corresponding figures for the UK are 1.5% for 2018, 1.8% for 2017 and down to 1.2% for 2019. The latter is no doubt influenced by uncertainty over Brexit.

Whether you are concerned about the state of the economy in which you operate, the fluctuations in demand for transport or the health of your business, you can obtain trailer flexibility and peace of mind through rental or leasing. These options enable you to add trailers to your fleets at busy times and return them in times of low demand, at short notice and without tying up capital in asset ownership.

  1. Better trailers for your money

Through leasing, fleet managers can often add vehicles to their fleet that are of a higher specification than those they could purchase themselves. This is thanks to the economies of scale that leasors achieve by purchasing in high volume from manufacturers and translating these cost savings into competitively priced leasing or rental deals for fleet operators.

  1. Newer trailers and technology

Rental and leasing agreements enable fleet managers to upgrade their fleets and switch more quickly to newer trucks kitted out with the most recent technology. VNA-Lease, the Dutch vehicle leasing association, notes that the average age of leased trucks over 3.5t tends to be significantly less than owned trucks. For example, in Belgium leased trucks are on average 3.2 years old compared to 7.9 years old for owned trucks. (source: LeaseEurope) The average age of a leased light commercial vehicle in the Netherlands is 31.5 months. (source: VNA-Lease)

  1. Outsource maintenance

As part of a rental or leasing contract, the leasor or rental company can provide the fleet manager with outsourced servicing and repairs for their trailer. With an outsourced maintenance agreement, the fleet manager avoids the overheads and management of the recruitment, training, and retention of specialised trailer mechanics and warehouse space to store spare parts.

  1. Trailer rental and leasing – popular and proven

Renting and leasing trailers and trucks are popular and long-proven practices for fleet managers looking to expand their businesses in a sensible way. As an illustration of the popularity of leasing, the 2017 market statistics published by VNA Lease, the Dutch vehicle leasing association, show that 19% of all 860,000 leased vehicles in the Netherlands are light commercial vehicles. In terms of longevity, TIP, currently celebrating its 50thanniversary, has provided its clients with rental and leased trailers for many years.

TIP leasing and rental

Trailer leasing and rental is our speciality. TIP offers a wide range of rental and leasing solutions and can advise on the different leasing regulations across Europe. With a transport fleet of over 60,000 units, TIP is one of Europe’s largest transport equipment leasing companies. It can also purchase each asset specifically for you.

TIP rental options

We offer trailers on a rental basis in all forms including flatbed, curtainsider, box trailers, tankers and reefers to fill short-term gaps in your fleet. This is an extremely useful option for fleet managers needing to fulfil a last-minute customer delivery request.

TIP trailer leasing options

For fleet managers looking for a flexible and cost-effective way to manage their fluctuating medium to long-term trailer fleet requirements, TIP provides several leasing options:

  • Operating lease– This is off-balance sheet leasing with flexible terms. Operating leases are particularly attractive for high-value assets such as trucks and trailers which are needed to fulfil a specific contract. Lease rates are based on the value of the asset over the period you require it. As a result, you can link lease rates directly to the revenue your asset generates.
  • Finance lease– A finance lease allows you to acquire an asset over time rather than paying for it upfront.  The lease rates are calculated over an agreed term.
  • Sale and leaseback– Under this form of leasing, we will buy your assets at a fair market price and lease these assets back to you for a fixed monthly fee, thereby freeing up your capital for other uses.
  • Additional value-added services available across all our leasing solutions– We can offer replacement vehicles during repairs, maintenance, roadside assistance, fleet and tyre management and telematics for your fleet. We remarket trucks and trailers that are no longer needed.

For more information about TIP trailer rental and leasing, please contact us using this form.

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Smarter trucks, smarter trailers through telematics

Smarter trucks, smarter trailers through telematics

The increasing sophistication of telematics technology and its role in reducing fleet management costs have led to it slowly becoming standard equipment in new trucks and trailers in Europe.

What is telematics?

Truck or vehicle telematics “is based on the idea of gathering, storing, and transmitting information about the vehicle for tracking purposes. This information can be used to analyse vehicle performance, vehicle conditions, driver performance, and more.” [source: Carmafleet]

This data is relayed from sensors on key mechanical components on trucks and trailers back to drivers and fleet managers at base using satellite/GPS technology.

The fleet manager can take advantage of telematics for his or her fleet in various ways including:

  • Obtaining information about mechanical parts and deciding when to maintain or repair them to avoid unexpected downtime. For example, trucks and trailers fitted with Tire Pressure Monitor Systems will alert the fleet manager to the need for increasing tyre pressures to ensure maximum fuel economy and safety. Thanks to telematics, fleet managers can detect a decrease in reefer temperature remotely and take action to minimise any damage to the food being transported.

Some of the more recent telematics systems will provide fleet managers with real-time predictive maintenance information enabling them to replace components at the optimum time before they fully wear out.

  • Finding the best routes for delivery that will reduce the journey time and be the most fuel efficient.
  • Reducing the cost of truck and trailer ownership in various areas including maintenance and repair, fuel and tyre consumption.
  • Monitoring dangerous driving habits and implementing measures such as additional driver training to increase safety.
  • Tracking the locations of drivers, trailers and their contents including the weight to mitigate against cargo theft.
  • Recognising when trailers are lying idle, to improve trailer allocation, loading turnaround times and scheduling and, in some instances, to use as evidence to eliminate under-used trailers.
  • Linking the information to fleet management systems to generate management reports, help with driver and trailer allocation and scheduling and, in some cases, to connect with online freight exchange platforms.

In future, telematics will also form an important part of the connectivity required for platooning.


Increasing adoption

In February 2018, Techavio market research analysts predicted that the commercial vehicle telematics market in Europe will grow at a compound annual growth rate of close to 14% from 2018 to 2022. In 2017, the Large Commercial Vehicle segment accounted for 83% of sales in the European market. [source: Technavio]


Telematics and truck manufacturers

The Big Seven European Truck manufacturers are recognising the significance of telematics technology for their customers and are starting to provide it either as standard integrated equipment in new trucks or at least as an option. Many telematics solutions can be retrofitted to older models and/or integrated with the telematics solutions of other vendors.

For more information on their telematics and fleet management systems, please click on the truck manufacturer’s name: DAF, Iveco, MAN through RIO developed by their parent company Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz,  RenaultScania, and Volvo.


Telematics and trailers

Anecdotally, there appears to be an increase in adoption of telematics for trailers. Dennis Skaradzinski, chief engineer at Great Dane Trailers told in March 2018 that “Up to this point, trailers have been pretty dumb… Today, trailers are becoming smart.”

“Telematics platforms provide valuable information on trailers’ past and upcoming maintenance and stops throughout the day, help verify deliveries, and can even measure the temperature in refrigerated trailers,” said Jenny Shiner, marketing communications manager at GPS Insight [source: Fleet Equipment Magazine]

Managing trailer security risks is an important consideration. Many drivers carry high-value cargo. One option is to install a Truck ID which identifies remotely that the right truck is towing the right trailer. Another option is to install locks and sensors that trigger alarms remotely when trailer doors are opened or goods are moved unexpectedly.

With some solutions, you can pre-programme your trailer doors so that they can only be opened in pre-defined locations at pre-defined times. If your trailer travels in an unscheduled way, an alert is sent to the base. Combined with the constant tracking information that you receive about a trailer’s location, you can then take appropriate action and, if necessary, contact local law enforcement agencies to help recover it.


TIP and telematics

TIP Trailer Services is celebrating its 50thanniversary in the trailer services business. It can help you install and operate telematics solutions for trailers and trucks from a range of manufacturers.

To resolve all maintenance and repair issues that your telematics solutions identify, TIP is on-hand to provide you with trailer maintenance and repair services on a “Pay as You Go,” “Preventative” and “Predictive” basis. We have a network of over 70 workshops across 16 countries providing round the clock support, 365 days per year.

For more information on how TIP can assist you, please contact TIP Trailer Services using this form.

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Keep cool with TIP reefer trailers

Getting mangoes, salmon or ready-made meals to your dinner table or drugs to your pharmacy require refrigerated transport. The business of transporting perishable goods is booming worldwide.  Do you have refrigerated trailers or “reefers” in your fleet to take advantage of this opportunity?


Cold Chain Market growth

The global Cold Chain Market, also known as the market for refrigerated storage and transport, is significant. Researchers Marketsandmarkets estimate the market to be worth US$ 203.14 billion in 2018 and project it to reach US$ 293.27 billion by 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of 7.6%. They attribute this growth potential to multiple factors including the increase in international trade for perishable goods, advances in refrigerated storage and transport technology, government support for the development of infrastructure required for the cold chain industry and an increase in consumer demand for perishable goods. [source: Marketsandmarkets]

report by Persistence Market Research takes a similar view. It adds that, in several parts of the world, rising urbanization coupled with growing middle-class populations are fuelling demand for safe temperature-controlled transport of food as time-poor, dual-earning families opt for ready-made meals rather than freshly prepared ones.


Popular cold chain categories

TheMarketsandmarketsreport notes that the frozen products segment accounted for the largest share in the Cold Chain Market in terms of value in 2017. A wide range of products including ice cream, meat, and seafood need to be stored at freezing temperatures to preserve their flavour, texture and nutritional value.

The largest category in the frozen cold chain market in 2018 will be “dairy and frozen desserts.” This is because they require constant temperature control and vigilance to prevent exposure to dust and sunlight during transport and storage.  The transport of dairy products is also on the rise, thanks to the Chinese government recommending the health benefits of milk consumption in peoples’ daily diets.

Moreover, the refrigerated transport sector in Europe and North America is thriving, partly on the back of improved technology in refrigerated trucks, vans, trailer and maritime reefer containers. [source: Marketsandmarkets]


Reefer innovation

Reefer technology is constantly progressing with new telematics applications being a key driver influencing refrigerated trailer innovation. For example, Thermo King, a US manufacturer of transport temperature control technology, recently unveiled a “connected” trailer refrigeration unit which enables drivers using Bluetooth in-cab or in-yard to manage cargo temperatures, monitor the reefer and respond to alerts.  [source: TTNews]

Reefer trailer manufacturers are reviewing the materials that the trailers are made of. This includes investigating the possibility of using non-metallic materials for the trailer walls, more efficient types of foam insulation and the greater use of aerospace-like composites. Also under analysis are increased implementation of electric transport refrigeration units and solar panel-generated electricity to support trailer accessory loads. These developments will all contribute to cost and fuel savings and superior reefer reliability. [source: TruckingInfo]


Sales growth of trailers

2018 report by Persistence Market Research predicts that the European refrigerated trailer market, which was worth $US 2.329 billion in 2017, will expand at a rate of 5.1 percent annually until 2021. The report says that fleets operate refrigerated trailers for a period of about 3-5 years and sell them on. They then purchase new ones to benefit from the latest technologies and operational cost efficiencies.


Reefer or refrigerated container rental or leasing

TIP offers flexible reefer or refrigerated container trailer rental and leasing solutions at competitive rates to support your fleet as it increases its share of the Cold Chain Market. Our highly trained technicians across our network of workshop locations throughout Europe maintain all our rental reefers and refrigerated containers trailers to the highest standards.

Among the reefers that we can provide are:

Dual compartment

  • A dual compartment reefer splits a container into two variable-sized compartments with different temperature requirements. It can alternately cool one compartment and freeze the other or, if required, refrigerate one compartment and heat the other. The container can also provide the same temperatures across both compartments.

Double stock

  • The double stock or double-decker loading system enables seamless loading on two adjustable-height levels. As a result, you can transport up to 66 Euro pallets instead of a maximum of 33.

Multi-temp & double stock

  • The multi-temp & double stock reefers combine the seamless loading benefits of a double stock loading system with the ability to section off several areas at different temperature levels.

Flower spec

  • The fragility and high value of plants and flowers in pots or bouquets, and plants make them a challenge to transport. So TIP offers a reefer that is specific for transporting flowers. The reefer’s structure keeps the specialised dollies carrying the stacks of flower firmly in place when travelling. For some types of flowers and plants, an independent hot air ventilation system in the floor can be activated.

Meat rail

  • Carrying meat from abattoirs to meat cutting and processing plants requires specialist reefers. Loads are hung from the ceiling using specific systems with different hanging rails for each type of meat. The reefer manufacturers reinforce the roofs to ensure that they can bear the loads suspended from them, which can often exceed 22 tonnes.


A standard reefer that keeps the entire container load at a single temperature is perfect for the needs of many of our customers.


Keeping reefers on the road

We can also provide you with maintenance and repair for your reefers and refrigerated containers.  We are vendor neutral but have all the expertise and specialised workshop tools, diagnostic equipment and technology to help you keep your reefers and refrigerated containers in top condition to maximise their time on the road. For more information on how TIP can help you keep your customers’ perishable goods cool and on course for punctual delivery, please contact us using this form.

Well-maintained trailers deliver a European e-commerce boom

European online retailing is enjoying a long phase of seemingly ever-lasting growth. Judging by recent media coverage, this growth looks unstoppable and provides a wonderful business opportunity for road freight transport companies with well-maintained trailer fleets. 

EU retail growth

Forrester Research predicts that e-commerce in Western Europe will grow 11.3% per year on average over the next five years, representing 13.9% of total retail sales by 2022. Excluding groceries, this number will rise to 20% of total retail sales in this region. [source: EcommerceNews.EU] 

Cross-border delivery

The prospects for e-commerce delivery across European borders are also promising. In-depth EU research into the internet purchasing habits of over 260,000 European respondents tells us that 33% of e-buyers made purchases from sellers in other EU countries in 2017 compared with 25% in 2012. Likewise, 22% of e-buyers bought from vendors outside the EU in 2017 compared to 12% in 2012.

Unsurprisingly, Luxembourgers made the most cross-border purchases with 74% buying from non-Luxembourg-based retailers. Turkey accounts for the lowest proportion of cross-border purchases (2%), just behind Romania (3%). [Source: EShopWorld]

In a further boost to European e-commerce and cross-border deliveries, the EU announced in March 2018 that it will establish a parcel delivery prices comparison website. This will enable consumers and businesses to have a reference point for domestic and cross-border delivery tariffs before opting for the best deal. According to an EU consultation, over two-thirds of consumers had given up on making online cross-border purchases because the delivery costs were too high.  A 2015 study found that cross-border parcel prices are on average 3 to 5 times higher than their domestic equivalents for all products. 

Top online sellers

Leading the European online sales league table is Amazon, which posted an online turnover of €38.5 billion in 2015. It is followed by Apple (€6.4 billion turnover), Dixons Carphone (€3.9 billion) and Cdiscount/Groupe Casino (€2.4 billion) [source: EShopWorld]

Analysing European online retailers from several angles, the IREU Top500 2017 list of European retailers found that Apple, Boots, H&M, Ikea, Nike, and Zara were statistically ahead of all the others and “represent the pinnacle of European multichannel retailing”. [Source: IREU Top500]

The greatest choice

Of the 800,000 online stores in Europe, 175,000 are in Germany. The UK is in second place with 108,000 online stores. The Netherlands takes third place with over 82,000 online stores. Researchers attribute this third place to several factors. They are the Netherlands’ high internet penetration rate and the fact that large e-commerce players including Amazon and eBay were comparatively slow to establish themselves in the Dutch market, thus enabling Dutch entrepreneurs to create local e-commerce sites that have enjoyed enduring popularity in the Netherlands. In fourth place is France with 75,000 online stores. []

Most popular buying categories

What online-purchased goods are you most likely to be transporting in your trailers?

The EU’s E-commerce Statistics for Individuals survey found that “clothes and sports goods” (64% of e-buyers) was the most popular online buying category. “Travel and accommodation” was the second category with 53% of e-buyers, followed by “household goods” (46%), “tickets for events” (39%) and “books, magazines and newspapers” (34%).

Keeping trailers in TIP top condition

To benefit from the exciting business opportunities provided by online retailing, you need to keep your trailers well-maintained in TIP top condition and, maximise their time on the road.

Having a trailer maintenance programme in place will minimise the likelihood of experiencing an unexpected trailer breakdown. All trailers need regular care, attention, and servicing. Consider outsourcing the maintenance and repair management programme to reliable, well-qualified experts such as TIP Trailer Services.

TIP provides a regularly scheduled trailer maintenance programme.  This helps you anticipate technical issues, keep costs under control and ensure that all trailers are fit for the road throughout the seasons.

Key trailer maintenance services

TIP’s trailer maintenance programme includes servicing, repair, regulatory compliance such as MOT, compulsory tests and periodic equipment tests.

The programme also covers tyre maintenance services and access to our Europe-wide roadside assistance services solution 24/7, 365 days per year.  We can manage repairs through our fixed price damage repair process. TIP can take responsibility for much of the non-core and time-consuming elements of your fleet administration. For further information on how you can keep your trailers in TIP top condition to win more online retail delivery contracts, please contact us using this form.

Predictive maintenance to avoid unpredictable trailer repairs

Predictive maintenance to avoid unpredictable trailer repairs - TIP

For many years fleet managers have relied on calendars or mechanical breakdowns to decide when to maintain their trailers. In a highly competitive transport market with low-profit margins, a maintenance strategy which includes predictive maintenance can maximise your trailer uptime and so deliver competitive advantage.

A trailer broken down by the roadside is a safety hazard to your driver and vehicle and other road users. Breakdowns can be costly in terms of unexpected repairs and loss of fleet productivity. A well-planned maintenance strategy also prolongs trailer working lifetime and reduces overall maintenance costs.

McKinsey’s 2017 report “Artificial Intelligence: The Next Digital Frontier” predicts that artificial intelligence will prompt a switch from “preventative” to “predictive” maintenance in the future. What are these concepts and where are we now?


Predictive maintenance trailer

Predictive maintenance “takes years of data from a wide variety of trucks and aggregates it to predict how much potential there is for an upcoming failure for particular components” and prompt fleet managers to take action. This process was traditionally limited to human intervention and manual reporting tools. However, now technology exists to analyse potential failures from real-time information communicated from your truck and trailer and automate what were formerly manual processes. [source: Fleet Equipment Magazine]

Increasingly our clients are opting for “predictive maintenance” programmes, which take advantage of a variety of technologies including telematics. The remote diagnostic software is available on many trailers and trucks today, feeding live information to fleet managers.

Real-time data generated by today’s trailers and trucks can reveal a lot about their condition: from fuel consumption, speed driven, tyre pressure and overloads to cooling temperatures. Typically, the software integrates this data with information provided by the trailer’s original equipment manufacturer which describes what to expect in terms of component wear and tear under various mileage, weather and usage scenarios.  Additional information comes from historic data generated by other similar trailers in your fleet.

Data is converted into algorithms by the predictive maintenance software to build a sophisticated picture of the maintenance required to avoid unforeseen issues. For example, predictive maintenance can help fleet managers decode when to replace a worn-out turbo, renew the exhaust system or service the reefer unit to prevent a possible breakdown.

Cost benefits

Predictive maintenance repairs systems before problems develop and lead to unexpectedly high costs. Predictive maintenance at a predictable cost allows you to rotate your fleet to reduce repair frequency across all trailers and level-load your maintenance workshop.  You no longer need to hold a large spare parts inventory and simply order parts on a “just in time” basis, saving costs and warehouse space.

Jennifer Roubaud of Dataiku wrote a blog on Fleetnews on the benefits of predictive maintenance and cited the example of Traffilog America, a developer of predictive maintenance systems. They use it to monitor driver performance and safety as well as optimise delivery routes.  Traffilog America’s predictive maintenance software monitored a driving pedal position on a bus. Insights from the data generated resulted in the bus company adjusting pedal usage which saved its fleet an impressive 30% in fuel costs. For another company, predictive maintenance reduced brake pad replacement by 30%.


Preventative maintenance trailer

Many of our clients at TIP choose preventative maintenance.  The preventative maintenance approach is based on a maintenance schedule, often linked to manufacturers’ specifications. This might include changing the oil every three months or inspecting the tyres after five years’ use.  This is a good solution which we deliver for a pre-determined cost. It reduces unplanned repairs and interventions.


Predictive and preventative maintenance cocktail

The two styles of maintenance are not mutually exclusive. You could run a preventative maintenance programme through which you take your trailers in for a service and replace parts according to a pre-defined calendar. In parallel, you could use predictive maintenance to alert you to any maintenance and repairs that might need doing ahead of schedule.


Pay as you go

Whilst we offer predictive and preventive trailer maintenance programmes, sometimes “pay as you go” maintenance or repair will be the right solution. To minimise disruption, you might want to have your trailer serviced at a specific location on your delivery route. Your trailer could suffer a one-off mechanical issue on the road to Milan causing a potentially costly delay to your delivery and reputation. At TIP, we are exceptionally well placed to assist you in these situations, thanks to our pan-European maintenance and breakdown recovery service.  We have a network of over 70 workshops across 16 countries providing round the clock support, 365 days per year. With support provided in 18 national languages, our dedicated and experienced TIP staff will deliver roadside assistance to get your drivers back on the road as soon as possible.

We guarantee low cost, fixed rates through our local vendor agreements and fixed call out charges. You can monitor the progress of the servicing or repair online and simply “pay as you go” when you use the service. For more information on how TIP can provide you with “predictive,” “preventative” or “pay as you go” maintenance and repairs, please contact TIP using this form.