Photo: AIT Worldwide Logistics

AIT Worldwide Logistics is replicating its recently launched US ‘middle-mile’ strategy in Europe, by making an acquisition.

On Friday, it agreed to acquire the Netherlands-based Lubbers Logistics Group, which focuses on road transport, project cargo and international forwarding.

“Lubbers’ robust one-stop shop approach and the long-standing relationships with industry-leading customers make it an excellent fit for AIT,” said chief business officer Greg Weigel.

“We see significant potential for their broad network by growing freight forwarding operations and energy sector expertise … We’re also excited to boost our end-to-end solutions with middle-mile service in Europe as a counterpart to our recently launched US network.”

The deal should be finalised by the end of the year, with Lubbers’ 375 staff in 18 locations joining AIT, and bringing four new countries into its network – Denmark, Norway, Romania and Turkey.

AIT unveiled its US Middle-Mile Network last week, after identifying a gap in the US trucking market. PR manager Matt Sanders said: “In recent years, industry consolidation in the US linehaul market has left shippers with fewer choices, which are increasingly slower, expensive and less reliable, especially with respect to damage risk.

“In an effort to provide customers with improved solutions and options, AIT is officially launching its new Middle-Mile Network as a high-quality alternative to so-called ‘expedited’ LTL service.”

The network at this stage comprises more than 160 lanes, covering over 90% of major US metropolitan areas, and is built around five hubs in strategic import/export gateways – Atlanta, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas and Los Angeles – which connect to AIT’s first- and final-mile operations.

According to the company, it offers several advantages over ‘typical expedited LTL’ services. It claims an average transit time reduction of one to two days, a 98.7% on-time performance, a lower claim ratio, fewer touches and no co-mingling between hubs.

Key to the shorter transits are reduced dwell times at the hubs. AIT monitors dwell time at the shipment level in order to proactively identify and resolve issues.

The company has “made a significant technology investment to provide improved visibility beyond the most basic milestones” and aims to make this available to customers through its unified customer portal in the first quarter of next year, according to Mr Sanders.

“Its less about alerts and more about constantly monitoring shipments in the system,” he said.

Ryan Carter, SVP Americas, noted that the service is designed to “adapt seamlessly to customer demand”, as the network was conceived to quickly redistribute resources as needed to align with shippers’ demands.

“This initiative is not about rapid, unchecked expansion, it’s about providing a consistently higher standard of service,” said chief business officer Greg Weigel.

The network is especially effective for heavy, dense freight, including automotive parts, healthcare equipment, industrial machinery components and technology hardware like server racks, said the operator. As its hub locations indicate, AIT primarily targets importers.

The network, which has grown rapidly, is poised for expansion, both in geographic reach and structure and management is looking to add hubs in the US north-east and north-west.

And the network will be extended beyond the US to its USMCA neighbours. Routes and border crossings have yet to be decided, but the most likely points on the southern border are El Paso and Laredo, with Detroit/Windsor the leading candidate for expansion into Canada, said Mr Sanders

“The team is in the process of vetting and narrowing down carriers,” he added. “The cross-border service has great potential for AIT’s customers in the automotive industry, transporting parts from suppliers in Canada to Mexico, as well as finished components or units from Mexico to the US.”

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