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News - June 09, 2021

New Belgian system solves huge problem in international road transport


BIERBEEK 7 June 2021 — The Leuven-based company OTRA Solutions (Bierbeek) is launching a European digital platform that will offer the international road transport sector a solution to the increasing and often severe parking problems along major European traffic routes. The platform provides drivers, companies and parking operators with a real-time online parking management tool.

Through this reservation application, OTRA guarantees the truck drivers and their cargo a reliable, safe and well-equipped parking space at all times. For the transport companies, it is end-to-end planning, monitoring, and payment system. “Our solution will have a major social and economic impact on a growing sector that is already under pressure”, say OTRA’s Sven Bols and Isabel Corne. Following PMV’s investments, the company can now also count on significant participation from Marc Coucke’s NV Alychlo to market the platform at the European level.

A large-scale European study (Eurostat, February 2019) has recently uncovered the constraints of the international road transport sector. In addition to the traffic congestion, the increasing crime along European roads and the enormous shortage of safe and reliable parking facilities are a source of great concern to the transport world. Every year, no less than 8.2 billion euros in thefts or damage to lorries are recorded in Europe. Cargo thefts, drivers being robbed, stowaways, damage to the cargo, … an insanely high figure.

At the same time, there is a shortage of 100,000 parking spaces for lorries across Europe every day.**

And thus, many truck drivers and transport companies are exposed to enormous risks along the way. Over the past two years, we have extensively mapped and analysed these problems with OTRA,” argues OTRA founder Sven Bols. “That gave us the idea to develop a unique platform that, even at the European level, will offer enormous added value to a sector that grew by almost 5% in volume last year.

75% of all thefts or damage occur at unsecured parking zones, and 78% of drivers consider clear parking information vital for their job performance. OTRA’s platform will have a huge impact on a truck driver’s daily life. Safer and better sleep, safer driving, less unrest, less crime, and insured driving and rest planning.

Connecting drivers, companies, and parking operators in real-time 

Right now, truck drivers either do not reserve their resting areas or do this by e-mail or telephone while on the road. They do this based on static data. And the consequences are predictable —  parking operators have not seen the e-mail, places have already been taken, overcrowded popular parking places, a lot of stress and paperwork.

OTRA developed software that serves as an end-to-end service platform for three user groups: the truck driver receives a mobile reservation tool, where OTRA is the local point. It provides reliable real-time parking information at all times and can make a guaranteed booking at a secure parking facility that meets industry expectations. And finally, OTRA can make an assured payment online”, explains Sven Bols.

For the transport companies, there is OTRA Fleet Manager™, which allows them to monitor their cargo or truck anytime and anywhere. According to Isabel Corne, the CFO and co-founder of OTRA, this is an important step. “First of all, companies know with certainty that both their driver and the cargo can rest in a safe place. They can track where their people and cargo drive into or out from and manage their costs with an online billing and payment system. Moreover, through the tool, they also know that, e.g., their refrigerated cargo can be connected to charging stations present at parking places, which avoids running diesel engines and hence offers an ecological advantage.

For the parking host or operator, there is the OTRA Park Manager™. This system shows drivers and companies which facilities the parking operator can offer. “The application can manage the parking online so that it can always guarantee the correct occupancy. The parking spots get a clear rating from the drivers. And the solution assures payment from the user”. After booking, drivers receive a 3D QR code with which they can enter the parking facility. At the same time, he receives discounts on restaurants en route, shower access, the WiFi code for the parking, etc…

Participation of Alychlo and PMV as leverage for European breakthrough

OTRA will bring this large-scale transport platform to the market in the coming months and connect all parties via the tools. This autumn, 50 companies and 21 parking places must already be operational on the platform. In the future, efforts will also be made to establish fully equipped parking places throughout Europe. This is possible thanks to the significant participation of investment companies PMV and Alychlo, which will also become shareholders of OTRA.

Lieven De Jonge, Business Manager PMV: “With its unique SaaS technology, the OTRA platform offers an algorithmic solution to a pressing problem within the international transport sector. This is a unique tool, which we at PMV, as an investor, already believed in from the start. We are proud that we initially gave Sven, Isabel and their team the opportunity to develop this tool amid the corona crisis.”

Alychlo sees a unique global project for a strong sector in the European economy in OTRA. “Road transport is indispensable for our economic system. OTRA offers them an efficient logistics too! that, with enormous European potential, is very appealing. We, therefore, invest with conviction in this Belgian company that has developed a structural, innovative solution for a global problem. It improves the social situation of the truck drivers as well as the person behind the driver, and it will increase the profitability of companies in this sector’, adds Marc Coucke.

More information about OTRA can be found at www.weareotra.com or via: [email protected]

* EU Study on Safe and Secure Parking Places for Trucks (Move/C1/2017) — 2019, February

** EU Study on Safe and Secure Parking Places for Trucks (Move/C1/2017) — 2019, February

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“ First of all, companies know with certainty that both their driver and the cargo can rest in a safe place. They can track where their people and cargo drive into or out from and manage their costs with an online billing and payment system. ”

Isabel Corne
the CFO and co-founder of OTRA

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