The logistics industry faces a crisis this Christmas if more is not done to address the shortage of drivers in the UK haulage market, according to Clyde Buntrock, Group Marketing & Business Development Director at Allport Cargo Services.
The increasing demand for drivers as a result of the growth in online retail deliveries, together with an ageing driver workforce and a drop in new license acquisitions, has left a shortfall of tens of thousands of trained drivers*. This is putting huge pressure on the transport and logistics industry.
Freight forwarding and supply chain company, Allport Cargo Services is urging the industry to consider four key strategies that will help improve the future reliability of the transport service.
1) Own your haulage fleet
Companies with their own haulage infrastructure, or a significant percentage, are better positioned to cope with the ebb and flow of demand and availability of drivers. If deliveries are a core part of your service proposition you must invest at the core of this to enable stability. 100% outsourced haulage offerings can offer little comfort whilst the industry is under such significant pressure.
2) Utilise the rail system
Rather than relying on trucks which will often queue at the UK's major ports in the South wasting driver time, utilising rail to ship containers to a hub in the North on a daily basis is highly efficient. This rail and hub 'short shunt' strategy results in improved driver and vehicle efficiency, as well as taking vehicles off the road and therefore being more environmentally friendly.
3) Employ 'drop and swap'
When capacity and drivers are at a premium this method makes the best of limited resources by the driver delivering a container and immediately swapping it for an empty one, which is taken to a terminal and then back to port. This is a more efficient use of the driver and vehicle than a live 'tip' where the driver simply unloads.
Close working between third party logistics companies, shippers and customers is imperative to eliminate 'empty running' and promotes vehicle collaboration within the supply chain. Greater flexibility from shippers around delivery days, times and booking lead-times will enable the haulage industry to match changes to booking with truck availability. Likewise, if customers are more willing to take 24/7 deliveries, transport demand could be further alleviated.
*According to the Freight Transport Association.