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ECHO Survey


The organisation of freight transport is closely linked to that of the production and trading activities that generate it. If we wish to take action in the area of transport we must be aware of the constraints under which firms in the sectors which dispatch freight (usually referred to as “shippers”) operate and the decisions they have made previously.

In order to add a quantitative element to its analysis of transport demand, INRETS designed a “shipper” survey that covered the entire industrial and wholesale trading sectors. The first of these surveys was carried out in 1988 and this was updated by a new national survey at the request of the public authorities in 2004.
The new survey was re-named ECHO (Envois CHargeurs Opérateurs – Consignments Shippers Operators) and was conducted by interviewing a sample of roughly 3,200 shippers and tracking some 9,700 consignments for which all the operators were interviewed.

These surveys had two specific features:

  • First, they established the link between transport demand and the economic characteristics of the shippers
  • Second, they tracked shipments on their path from the shipper to the consignee while conventional data, which are collected for individual modes, only provide information about one journey and are unable to track goods that are transported by a succession of vehicles. Consequently, we have information not just about the physical path taken by goods, but also about its organisation and its determinants.

The survey also considered new issues relating, in particular, to energy consumption and an analysis of the potential use of modes other than road transport, whose presence in the sample we attempted to maximise. Last, the scope of the computing tools has been broadened. In particular we have added the ability to process origin-destination pairs and made it possible to interrogate the database via the Internet.

The results can be analysed:

  • From the standpoint of the shippers, by characterising the determinants of transport choice. This involves analysing the organisation of production systems (industrial organisation, patterns of trade, logistical decisions) and how they impact on transport in terms of the characteristics of shipments (size, frequencies, value, distance, etc.) and transport constraints (deadlines, reliability, costs, etc.).
  • From the standpoint of transport undertakings, by identifying the organisation of transport markets. Analysis thus relates to the links between the stakeholders, in particular with regard to decision-making and subcontracting, the logistics services provided, the types of vehicles used, the use of logistics hubs, the nature of the consignments handled, etc.

They are also able to model future transport demand and energy consumption on the basis of different practices regarding logistical organisation and transport.


The summary of the results is available on line (fr)

summary of the results

To find out more:

Contact: Emmanuel COHEN