Uber Freight has officially announced its European launch, in the company’s bid to ‘revitalise’ the global shipping industry.

The logistics arm of the transportation giant will start its European expansion from the Netherlands and is expected to begin operations there within the next few weeks. Previously, Uber Freight has only operated in the U.S. and this shift into the European market will be an introduction to a more complex network of freight operations.

Uber freight offers new opportunities to shippers and carriers by matching available loads with drivers. One of their core aims is to remove what it sees as the current barriers between carriers and shippers, and its digital platform generates quotes in real-time. This means a simpler process for efficient shipping, from pick-up to drop-off.

One potential criticism is that in an industry which has been so steeped in familiarity throughout history, there may be hesitation. Traditionally, forwarding networks have been keen communicators and often form relationships over time through consistent contact. This new ‘closed’ form of communication lessens that networking opportunity, and by limiting anything but digital comms, means there’s a less personal feel to operations.

Another point of note is that this is – again – another platform which focuses on the competitiveness of quotes, which drives industry rates lower. This is at odds with Freightabase for example, which focuses on shipping quality and specialisms in order to keep a level playing field.

However, our industry needs to shift towards digital as much as any: transparency, accountability and compliance are key to sustainable industry growth. This platform is testament to Uber’s understanding of its clientele, and has the same intuitive format as its consumer-oriented app.