Vast queues with wait times of over 20 hours formed along inner-European borders mid-March as governments implemented strict measures to stop the spread of coronavirus. And even if the situation has improved slightly in the meantime, the restrictions are maintained and new traffic jams may occur. Experts expect the situation to tighten again before the Easter holidays. This challenges transport logistics particularly and makes it more important than ever for dispatchers to keep a real-time overview. Please also note our update at the end of this article.

As EU President Ursula von der Leyen said, it is obviously important to take exceptional measures to protect the health of the population. At the same time, however, she also stressed the importance of a functioning flow of goods: “But let’s make sure goods and essential services continue to flow in our internal market. This is the only way to prevent shortages of medical equipment or food.”

Border wait times put dispatchers under pressure

A situation like the one at the Polish border crossings in mid-March is a nightmare for everyone: commuters, car and truck drivers had to wait for hours, sometimes without any possibility of getting food and drink, not to mention the lack of sanitary facilities. People who were dependent on important deliveries did not know when they would arrive. Dispatchers were under extreme pressure.

“Such situations are not only enormously stressful; they can also become threatening when it comes to the supply of goods. For example if medical supplies are not delivered on time,” says Mark Ulrich, Solution Director PTV Map&Guide. “It was obvious that fast support for dispatchers was needed and we worked at full speed on this.”

Keep the overview: Traffic situation and wait times at borders

An additional data layer from the data supplier Sixfold now enables PTV Map&Guide internet users to immediately see what’s going on at Europe’s border crossings.

“Together with our new partner, we were able to quickly find a solution for our customers. In addition to information on the current traffic situation on European roads, they can now also see exactly what the situation is like at border crossings,” explains Mark Ulrich.

Green, orange and red dots show the dispatcher at a glance whether traffic is flowing smoothly, coming to a halt or whether long border wait times are to be expected. The length of the traffic jam as well as the estimated wait time at border crossings are displayed for both directions and can be included in the route calculation. As a result, the logistics department has access to up-to-date information on additional travel times and possible alternative routes and can thus respond faster to daily challenges.

“Traffic jams and other unpredictable events cannot be avoided. But the worst thing is not knowing what’s going on. Because then you cannot react appropriately,” says Mark Ulrich. With the new functionality, the dispatcher now has full transparency and the chance to make the right decisions.

Update, April 8, 2020

Good news for our customers who ensure that our supply chains are running smoothly.
The new data layer is now also available as a free feature for the tools PTV Route Optimiser and PTV xServer. Thanks to the integration of Sixfold data, the quality of TomTom’s data layer “Traffic Incidents” has been improved even further.

And another highlight for our PTV xServer partners and customers: They can now integrate the border wait times into their route calculations.

More transparency for dispatchers

Those interested in the route planner and the new functionality can test the tool for seven days free of charge and explore the benefits of transparent planning

About the Author

Whether it is pedestrian accessibility, public transport or city logistics – Petra is interested in solutions that move people and goods in a sustainable and efficient way. She writes about research projects, urban logistics and mobility concepts.

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