At the Transport Logistic exhibition at Munich, RIO, the digital brand of the TRATON Group (previously Volkswagen Truck & Bus), shed light on its approach towards democratizing technology and pushing the freight industry towards digitalization of its operations.
“The real vision of RIO is to connect all players within the transport logistics segment with digital services in real time,” said Jan Kaumanns, the CEO of RIO. “RIO is open to everyone. Apart from having our services on the RIO platform, we want to have other partners and providers offer their services on our platform, because we believe in an ecosystem approach. We call it ‘coopetition’ – meaning, we allow services that are similar to each other and different companies to all coexist on our platform.”
Kaumanns explained that RIO is built in a way where there is no barrier to entry; users are not required to sign contracts – thus negating the long holding periods that are a staple across several platforms in the market. Since its inception, RIO has gained a user base of over 87,000 trucks across Europe, all of them equipped with a RIO box that helps convert trucks into connected vehicles, thereby leveraging digital solutions.
RIO is now expanding its geographic footprint beyond Europe, launching in Latin America this year, with Brazil as its first market in the region. “Our number of services and features within those services are growing more or less on a bi-weekly basis. RIO is about bridging the gaps and connecting different players while offering everyone what they need to improve their daily operations,” said Kaumanns.
However, to address the market, it is essential to account for the fragmentation that exists, with over 80 percent of the total capacity coming from fleets that operate 10 vehicles or less. Kaumanns noted that owner-operators and small fleets were one of the primary focal points of RIO, adding that this led the company to commission a study to better understand the digitalization needs of the small fleets.
“The key takeaway here is that we have a two-tiered society when it comes to digital logistics. On the one hand, we have really big players with big budgets that have a lot of people running their digitalization operations and optimizing data within their framework. On the other hand, we have roughly 80 percent of the market comprised of small fleets, of which only 50 percent are exposed to digital services in any way,” said Kaumanns.
When RIO probed why fleets refuse to embrace digitalization, it became evident that businesses were concerned with the legal requirements and the various compliance needs to adopt technology into their operations. Several fleets also believed that they were too small to have technology make a difference, while a few other opined that there were not enough options in the market that piqued their interests.
This is where RIO’s business model is relevant, because it allows fleets to pilot the services to see if they can make an impact in reducing operational expenses and increasing margins through greater visibility – without the need of sticking to lengthy contracts or having stipulated cancellation periods.
RIO’s solutions help small businesses leverage technology without paying exorbitant prices for transportation management systems (TMS), planning truck routes and asset utilization more efficiently, and having real-time visibility on their truck status.
“The solutions we deliver are not restricted to individual use cases or customer groups. RIO sees the whole picture – bit by bit, we are connecting the right partners and data, adding value for our customers,” said Kaumanns. “That approach is enabling us to acquire new customer groups. Our marketplace is growing steadily, with new partners and offerings, and we are becoming even more flexible through new interfaces and mobile applications.”