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Short-notice route changes, truck exchanges and country-specific requirements: International freight transportation is a fast-moving business with ever-changing variables. The fact that the European continent is made up of a patchwork of different toll collectors with varying requirements makes this even more complicated and presents further challenges for drivers, who often have to manage multiple tolling devices. The introduction of digital toll processing with a single toll box based on the EETS Directive should facilitate border crossing and billing. However, many solutions differ significantly in terms of reliability, connected services or toll domains covered, complicating their use. For ZMPD, the largest Polish road transport association, these problems no longer arise since it entered into a partnership with the German Toll4Europe GmbH. Toll4Europe is a joint venture of T-Systems Road User Services GmbH, Daimler Truck AG, DKV EURO SERVICE GmbH + Co. KG and euroShell Cards B.V. Moreover, Toll4Europe is currently the only German provider authorized in the Federal Republic of Germany within the framework of the European Electronic Toll Service (EETS). The bundled service is successfully used by Wojtex, one of Poland’s many trucking companies and a ZMPD customer, to avoid billing errors and delays in toll processing as well as delivery. A driver and representatives from Wojtex and ZMPD will give an insight into their daily work and report on the practical suitability of the Toll4Europe On-Board Unit (OBU).
For more than 25 years, the fleet of Wojtex Sp. z o.o. Sp. K. has been transporting chilled and frozen foodstuffs across Europe. Sensitive cargo in particular leaves little room for unplanned stops or traffic-related delays. “Over the past two decades, we have been challenged several times to accept changing realities and look for new opportunities in transportation to make both routes and fleet maintenance as cost-effective as possible,” reports Kamil Filipowicz, LNG Implementation Manager at Wojtex. Country-specific disruptions and last-minute changes by the customer forced the carrier from northern Poland to regularly enter countries that deviated from the route. “On a one-month trip, I may well visit up to ten countries, crossing borders more than 20 times,” adds Marian Dobkowski, a driver with Wojtex for 20 years. A few years ago, there were typically seven or more On-Board Units mounted on his windshield, limiting visibility and leaving no clear space for other equipment. Many of these national boxes beeped distractingly without displaying clear error messages. With driver concentration and safety, as well as the integrity of the goods, paramount in long-distance trucking, such unreliable distractions were not helpful and made the truck cockpit an even more stressful place to work. “Added to that was the pressure of sudden route changes due to customer requests. I had to remember which OBU was responsible for which country and was forced to replace one OBU with another because there weren’t enough free slots,” Dobkowski recalls.
Resource-saving route planning thanks to reliable OBU
Stress levels were also high at Wojtex headquarters, mainly because of the constant hurdles involved in introducing new machines to the fleet. “We expect a truck to bring in money as quickly as possible. Any delay, such as not having toll boxes available or having to wait for them, cost us dearly,” Filipowicz sums up. With Toll4Europe’s OBU, such situations are a thing of the past. As one of many European suppliers, Poland’s largest road transport association, ZMPD, equips hauliers with Toll4Europe OBUs that can cover different countries via a single device. “What sets the Toll4Europe OBU apart from others is the high number of countries supported, as well as the reliability thanks to Toll4Europe’s expertise,” confirms Filipowicz. “Now we use a single, easy-to-use device on the windshield to cover most of the EU.” While other devices are limited to just seven or fewer countries, Toll4Europe has the fastest-growing range of compatible toll states in the EU.
The benefits that this toll box brings have an impact on the road, as well as on the carriers’ route planning, management and resources. “When we were forced to rely on more than one device, there was additional work involved in checking multiple billing lists for discrepancies,” Filipowicz explains. Thanks to Toll4Europe’s simplified toll collection and invoice processing, our headquarters staff can now focus on other tasks, thus saving time and working more efficiently.
This is particularly important as Polish hauliers increasingly rely on LNG trucks for long-distance transport, where routes need to be carefully planned taking into account range and LNG refueling stations. In this context, resource-efficient route adjustments are now easier to implement, as the majority of European countries are covered by the Toll4Europe service. “I’m glad I don’t have to think much about tolls when I’m informed about different destinations, because I know the box has my back,” adds Dobkowski. The OBU is easy to use and has an intuitive display that makes it easy to read parameters or adjust inputs. “It’s much clearer and more accessible than the usual operation and menu navigation of other devices. Even more so when you consider that just a few years ago, all I had was a blink and a beep,” Dobkowski recalls.
Over-the-air updates and 24/7 service
To ensure that the OBU functions properly even after updates and that installation in new trucks is not a hurdle, ZMPD and Toll4Europe offer a broad service package as part of the cooperation. “The main problem encountered with devices from other manufacturers is the low level of support for users and drivers or sometimes even the lack of it,” confirms Andrzej Lenkiewicz, Director Commercial Department of ZMPD. “Customers using our device receive 24/7 support through a dedicated helpline.” This has paid off for Wojtex from day one: the good accessibility and descriptive advice helped the haulier keep the administrative work around toll processing running smoothly – whether a new truck has to be connected to an OBU, a system update needs to be transferred to all devices, or general feedback on how it works is required. “Toll4Europe’s dedicated support for our partner ZMPD provides a sense of security. The fast and professional service makes it possible to solve any problems that arise in the shortest possible time,” Filipowicz sums up.
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