How eCMRs are changing the game for road transportation

Aug 21, 2020
Innovation
Paper CMR form

What is a CMR consignment note?

The CMR is an important document for road transport. It stands for “Convention relative au contrat de transport international de marchandises par route” and is essentially a consignment note containing a standardized set of land transport and liability conditions, which replaces an individual business’ own terms and conditions. It’s an agreement that gives clarity of responsibilities around loading, transport and delivery and therefore helps avoid disputes between shippers, consignees, forwarders and carriers.

The problem with paper CMRs

For decades, CMRs have existed as paper forms. Within them, there are a number of data fields that need to be captured, such as a description of the goods, contact details of sender, packing methods used, shipment weight, customs duties or dangerous goods information. Filling out all of the required fields can take a lot of time, especially in cases where duplicate information must be re-entered in various paper forms or systems.

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Once the forms are completed, there is a lot of administration involved in retrieving them, filing them, sending them and archiving them in spreadsheets for example. Retrieving delivery notes from all drivers at the end of the day or on weekends requires significant workload for admin teams. The handwritten notes are often illegible or misplaced and become burdensome for carriers who must file them away and ensure they’re securely archived for many years. This all results in hours and hours of work.

The slow flow of information and amount of manual retrieval required often results in invoicing delays, affecting cash flow. Likewise, the lack of real-time information or transport documents accessible for customers results in incoming calls and affects customer satisfaction.

The shift towards eCMR is happening now

An amendment to the CMR Convention in May 2008 made it possible to use electronic consignment notes, called eCMRs. They’re currently accepted in 27 countries that have ratified the new eCMR protocol, meaning they accept digital consignment notes from other countries within their own borders. The use of eCMRs has been steadily increasing. Across 2018, 4,234 eCMRs were generated globally. Within September 2019, 3,428 copies of eCMR were issued in Belgium alone.

27 countries have ratified the eCMR protocol

The benefits of eCMRs

Adopting eCMRs has many advantages for road transportation operations:

  • 20-25% more cash thanks to faster invoicing thanks to instant filing of the eCMR online upon delivery, with the ability to even automate invoicing processes
  • Less time spent by drivers filling out paperwork
  • Electronic time stamps and GPS location stamps ensure accurate time and place of delivery are captured
  • Ability to add photos of deliveries helps protect drivers and carriers from disputes
  • Less incoming calls querying CMR-related information thanks to access to online portals
  • Administrative cost savings and health/hygiene benefits (especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic) by going paperless
  • More secure data storage
  • Less time dealing with transportation litigations


The ability to generate eCMRs is included within Shippeo’s real-time transportation visibility solution, accessible to drivers within the Shippeo mobile application. Find out more about how your organization could benefit from eCMRs as part of a real-time transportation visibility solution for your supply chain operations by getting in touch with our team of experts today.

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