Waberer’s answer for the industrial challenges is innovation and sustainable operations. In its daily operation, the leading European transportation company uses self-developed and adopted systems provided by digitalization and is open to implement any further idea that provides an economically and ecologically sustainable answer to the increasing operating expenses and emissions. When asked about the industry’s challenges, TRANSLOG Connect Congress keynote speaker Ferenc Lajkó, CEO of Waberer’s says he expects a period of consolidation in which the company will be a leader.
The Industry’s Future Lies in Innovation and Sustainable Operation
The transportation and the logistics sectors are undergoing substantial changes in the last few years.
What are the hot topics the industry is dealing with right now?
Ferenc Lajkó "There is a substantial transformation underway that has been looming for two or three years in the road transport, freight forwarding and logistics sectors - companies have been working with increasing operating expenses for three years. It is almost common sense that there are much less drivers thus work force is more expensive, moreover, insurance and transit fares and road tolls are increasing along with wages of other employees. Further problematic points are the European regulation of minimum wages, the strengthening measures concerning driving and weekend rest periods and the planned regulations of the Mobility Package. So there are several challenges the industry needs to cope with in the short and medium term – I expect that a period of consolidation awaits the logistics and freight forwarding sector. Still, we see great opportunities in the growing European road transportation industry and as key operator in the FTL segment we believe we can lead this consolidation."
The rise of new technologies is also a key factor in shaping the industry’s future.
Innovation is a buzzword in every industry but how can you utilize it in your sector?
Ferenc Lajkó "Efficiency and productivity in transportation has reached its limits among the currently used technologies and among the current regulatory environment and client expectations. Regardless of this we still have to further improve efficiency and productivity, because only this way can we offset the negative effects of driver shortages. This means that new technologies must be involved and we have to reconsider the driving time and rest period regulations and truck ban regulations, meanwhile we have to act together with clients to lower waiting times during loading/unloading. Innovation is one of Waberer’s most important strategic values and we are constantly looking for the latest innovations in our operational field. We put a strong focus on modernization both internally and in cooperation with our partners and are dedicated to take part in our partners’ R&D projects. We are open to adopt new technologies among the first companies as we believe that the future of road transportation lies in innovation."
What innovative solutions do you use or plan to introduce in the following years?
Ferenc Lajkó "As we are committed to cheaper and more environment-friendly propulsion methods, we took the first steps forward and recently tested LNG & CNG fueled vehicles. We plan to use these trucks in our fleet from 2019, but of course the filling station infrastructure must be further improved to let this happen. In accordance with sustainable development we are also building partnerships in the field of intermodal transportation and we are preparing routes where we can operate the roll-on roll-off model effectively. As for other freight technologies, we concluded successful platooning test last Fall and we are also keen on testing and introducing Tesla Semi trucks to the European market.
IT development is also a key for innovation at Waberer’s – we are continuously developing our workflow and decision-making processes and participate in several R&D projects in this area as well. Our unique, AI based planning and routing engines (WIPE and WIRE) were the first, ambitious steps within this area, and we do not wish to stop there. Big Data technology is something that provides us great support in route-optimization and fuel-efficient operation. Waberer’s center can gather a huge amount of on-board data from our 4400-truck fleet. Last year Waberer’s also introduced the SAP system that supports the realization of our financial and management goals. Aside this, we are also closely working together with another partner, Microsoft, to move our work in the offices into the clouds, and to exploit the benefits their Azure based technologies."
You mentioned more expensive drivers.
How do you cope with the increasing regional driver shortage?
Ferenc Lajkó "Truck driver shortage is indeed a widespread problem in the region but Waberer’s has been successfully dealing with the issue for some years now. We believe that a combination of employee incentives, educational initiatives and regional market view provide an effective solution to the problem. In the past three years, we implemented an employee package and driver-friendly technologies. Also, we have started a driver education program with the Hungarian government for 5 years, so we are in good position to solve problem. Also, thanks to an earlier acquisition we are present in a larger, regional labor market."
Based on its fleet size, Waberer’s is Europe’s largest transportation company, it is also among the leaders in the field of transportation services.
What are the company’s goals for the near future and what is your strategy to realize these goals?
Ferenc Lajkó "Besides always keeping up with the newest technologies, at Waberer’s we see the company’s future in introducing more sustainable solutions. This is in line with the challenges the entire industry needs to face – emissions control, protecting the environment, coping with changing fuel prices, exploring more sustainable new technologies in trucks, and also labor questions.
We are proud that we use our fleet efficiently, which means that on one hand Waberer’s has one of the most modern, young and environmentally-sound fleet. However, modern technology is useless if the frequency of maintenance exceeds the optimal rate. We managed to keep this rate balanced too. Another relevant factor is the drivers’ proficiency and knowledge. They must be able to reduce emission, the fuel consumption of trucks by proper driving routine. Thanks to driver trainings we could reach 4% fuel saving in 2017 compared to the years before. We worked out an overall sustainability ecosystem, that involves the strengthening of drivers’ environmentally-sound driving attitude, sustainable operation of vehicles and connecting infrastructure and recycling of more than 90% of generated waste."
Ferenc Lajkó, CEO of Waberer’s International Nyrt.
Ferenc Lajkó got Economist manager (BSc) and Transportation manager (BSc) degrees at the Széchenyi University of Győr. Following his studies, he started working as a Sales representative in 1997, first in the employment of Hungarocamion Rt., then at Volán Tefu Rt. Both companies are forerunners of the European road transport company today known as Waberer’s International Nyrt. Later on, after the merger of the two predecessors, he held various leading positions in the field of sales and transport operations at Waberer’s International Zrt.
Between 2007 and 2011 he managed the fields belonging to him, namely sales and transport operations from the position of Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Transport. He acquired a new field between 2012 and 2016, as he was responsible for forwarding, sales, and transport operations as a Deputy Chief Executive Officer for Transport and Forwarding.
After the changes the company underwent in its ownership structure in 2016, Ferenc Lajkó works for the company as Chief Executive Officer in order to continue the successful way it started. Mr. Ferenc Lajkó has been an operative member of the Board of Directors since 2017. In the same year, under his leadership Waberer’s became public company and listed its shares at the Budapest Stock Exchange.
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