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METI Collaborates with Commercial Vehicle Manufacturers to Solve Challenges in Distribution Industry

April 20, 2020

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) inaugurated a Study Group on New Mobility Services in the Field of Distributions (“Study Group on Distribution MaaS”) in December 2019. Since then, in light of the current situations, challenges, and such trends as digitalization in the distribution industry, the study group has been holding discussions on future visions which the distribution industry should aim toward, and efforts tackled by the commercial vehicles industry to achieve these visions and other issues, and compiled the results of the discussions into a report. Based on the report, METI, in FY2020, will facilitate its efforts for achieving mobility as a service in the distribution industry (distribution MaaS) in collaboration with manufacturers of commercial vehicles and other entities.

1. Outline of the Efforts tackled by the Study Group on Distribution MaaS in FY2019

The automobile industry has recently been facing the arrival of dramatic, some say, a once-in-100-years, change in its environment as seen in the so-called “CASE,” a new trend in the industry: connectivity, autonomous driving, shared automobiles and services and electrification of vehicles. Addressing these changes is an urgent challenge for the field of commercial vehicles. Moreover, “distribution services” are the arteries of economic activities and are an important field that greatly impacts productivity improvement in all industries. Nevertheless, recent situations in the distribution industry, such as a shortage of drivers and diverse demands of consignors and distribution styles, e.g., an increase in the number of parcels with higher frequency, have led to a more severe environment for companies in the industry.

Taking into consideration this state, METI inaugurated the Study Group on Distribution MaaS, bringing together experts, representatives of manufacturers of commercial vehicles, distribution companies, IT solutions companies and other private companies. Since then, in light of the current situations, challenges and such trends as digitalization in the distribution industry, the study group has been holding discussions on future visions which the distribution industry should aim toward, and the future direction of efforts tackled by the commercial vehicles industry to achieve these visions and other issues.

2. Outline of the report compiled by the study group

Future “ideal approaches to achieving distribution MaaS” are approaches through which: optimal distribution services are realized by linking data on distributions and transaction flows among consignors, transportation companies and vehicles together with the automatization of distribution functions. Related industries are aiming to solve social challenges and improve added value in distribution services. Toward these approaches, as efforts that contribute to solving challenges faced by the distribution industry, manufacturers of commercial vehicles should respond to ongoing efforts by consignors, transportation companies and other industrial players for improving the efficiency of distribution services.  To this end, they should also work, together with industrial players, joint transportation services, consolidated distribution services as well as optimize transportation and distribution routes by connecting more commercial vehicles and taking advantage of digital technologies.

To achieve this goal, the study group has proposed specific actions to be taken by commercial vehicles industry. These actions include collecting and linking data from multiple truck manufacturers by making use of the Japanese-version FMS standards*. This will allow the industry to conduct more efficient truck operations.

Based on this report compiled by the study group, METI, in collaboration with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, will: cooperate with manufacturers of commercial vehicles, the distribution industry, IT solutions companies and other private companies; specify details of the efforts to be tackled; and facilitate efforts for solving challenges that the distribution industry is facing.

*Note: The term “FMS Standards” is an acronym for “fleet management system standards,” which represents standards for data on truck operations necessary for operation control of vehicles. Concerning items on such data that they should convey to the public, four manufacturers of commercial vehicles in Japan have already agreed on their future directions in which they will comply with the European standards. They will advance discussions on addition of new data items that are necessary for operation control of vehicles in Japan as well as specifications, e.g., formats.

Division in Charge

ITS and Autonomous Driving Promotion Office, Automobile Division, Manufacturing Industries Bureau

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