Mentoring the Next Generation of Professional Drivers

Just a few weeks ago, students dusted off their stationary, gathered their books and packed their rucksacks, ready to begin the new academic year. For many, the return of September meant continuing their studies in a new term, but for others, it marked a new beginning as thousands enrolled on courses and apprenticeships in an effort to propel themselves further towards their new career.

Almost two months into the new academic year, courses and apprenticeships are well underway, and so we turned to look at an event back in October of a similar nature: National Mentoring Day. Here at Barnes, the day highlighted an opportunity to raise awareness of the availability of apprenticeships within the Professional Driving and Logistics industryand the opportunities they present.

For a number of years now, pursuing a University degree upon completion of A Levels has been positioned as the traditional ‘norm’ for UK-based students. However, with the pressure growing for young people to have more ‘hands-on’, practical skills, apprenticeships have seen a growth in popularity, whilst University applications are slowly falling. As professionals within the industry, we feel proud to speak on behalf of ourselves and many others when we say that the level of support that learners entering into the logistics sector receive is invaluable and incomparable – and so National Mentoring Day is a fantastic day to bring this topic into discussion.

With various job roles available within the logistics sector, from HGV drivers to warehouse operators, vehicle mechanics, business developers and managers – to name but a few – the sector truly offers something for everyone and is inclusive of all interests and talents. However, with each of these roles comes a need for experience, something which is achieved through apprenticeships. Apprenticeships not only provide such relevant industry experience but also allow the individual to expand their skillset whilst offering the opportunity to earn an income and secure a place on the pathway for professional and personal growth.

Of course, an apprenticeship is not the route for everyone, and some may feel better suited to a University degree in a related subject– both are viable directions to take and can lead to a successful career. For those who would prefer to study academia to a higher level, we offer our full support but would also recommend that such applicants gain work experience in the field of logistics management in addition to their studies.

At Barnes Logistics, we offer both apprenticeships and placements for those who wish to join this vital industry. We can provide a rich, hands on learning environment with a strong system of professionals there to mentor you. Our network of colleagues will teach apprentices all the necessary skills before stepping back, allowing you to develop independence and confidence in your abilities, but, with this in mind, mentors will always remain close by, available to help should you require it. Similarly, for those looking for a more temporary placement, such mentoring will also be available for those on placement alongside their studies – we want all our employees, be that full time, part time, apprentice or volunteer, to enjoy their working day and begin to shape their dream career.

We cannot stress enough how much we value hiring and engaging with young individuals whose fresh thinking and curious nature is invaluable to the entire industry – after all, such individuals are the very people who will be the face and future of one of the country’s most integral and imperative sectors.

If an apprenticeship or placement is something which you are interested in, we are keen to hear from you. Please get in touch with our team today using the following details:

Tel: 01706 248795

Email: admin@barneslogistics.co.uk

Twitter: @Barnes_Logistic

The Immigrant Lorry Crisis

When it comes to news reports involving the professional driving industry, there is a scarcity in themes. Largely, reports fall into three categories; road accidents involving HGVs, the implications that Brexit may have and the ‘illegal immigrant lorry crisis’. The immigrant crisis, as it’s labelled, is a topic which we at Barnes are yet to speak on, and it is a topic that can be difficult to discuss as there are various elements to it – but as an issue which can compromise the safety of hardworking professional drivers, it is one we feel compelled to explore.

A story of ‘illegal immigrants’ recently circulated the British tabloids; eleven people, including three children and a baby, entered the UK by lorry, only surviving their journey by eating the chocolate that the haulier was carrying. The circumstances surrounding this particular story are not uncommon; the group had boarded the lorry as it travelled from mainland Europe and then secured the vehicle in such a way that it could not be easily opened again, reducing the likelihood of them being found before reaching their desired destination. Although this narrative is a commonality, it is important to consider that not all who secretly stow themselves away are criminals, in many cases, the very act of illegal hitch-hiking appears desperate and involves a significant level of risk to it, suggesting that it is entirely possible that the people found on board were refugees or asylum seekers who simply hoped for a safer life based in the UK.

 

In such situations, regardless of the circumstances of the stowaway, it is also important for us to address how drivers can deal with such situations, as ensuring their safety is paramount. Unfortunately, many professional drivers feel let down by the existingHYPERLINK “https://www.gov.uk/guidance/secure-your-vehicle-to-help-stop-illegal-immigration” legalities; as it currently stands, legislation states that drivers must secure their lorry in a way that would prevent anyone from entering the trailer. In the event of a ‘clandestine entrant’ being found on board, drivers can face a fine of £2000 per person found on board. Even if the driver did not willingly or knowingly transport them, they face the fine as it demonstrates that their vehicle security measures have failed, and were therefore insufficient. These penalties are severe, particularly when the majority of drivers are not intentionally smuggling people across borders; in many cases, the desperation of stowaways can overcome the efforts of the driver, and there have been multiple cases reported where the driver has checked, rechecked, and even passed through specialised scanning equipment, but all have failed to detect any bodies on board. In such instances, the driver truly cannot be held accountable; if advanced technology fails to find stowaways, how could the driver be expected to? And yet many miles later, when eventually discovered, both the driver and stowaways face being detained.

 

It seems that the system of fining and detaining has fuelled anger towards immigrants who cross borders on lorries. Make no mistake, we are certainly not encouraging, agreeing with or promoting illegal immigration, but, we urge both the government and public to consider the safety of both the driver and immigrants. Our hardworking drivers should not be penalised or faced with potential penalties in these events, nor should they be locked away in a cell whilst investigations are begun.

 

As a business that operates within the logistics industry, we know that drivers are experiencing this far too commonly, and as a result, better systems are needed immediately, as they cannot continue to be subjected to the physical, emotional and financial stress that comes with the discovery of unknown passengers in their vehicle and the legalities that follow. If the circumstances are not addressed, we fear that drivers will continue down this same road for the foreseeable future, but we are hopeful that if we, and others alike, continue to raise awareness of this issue, policy makers will be encouraged to take necessary action.

 

Please share with us how you think our country can better protect our professional drivers by dropping us a tweet.

The Death of the High Street – What does it mean for Logistics?

The high street has long been a staple of British culture; rows of shops from high-end department stores to family-run businesses have historically formed the hub of local communities and created bustling cities, but today, shops are closing down at an alarming rate as many consumers turn to online shopping. As a result, the high street aesthetic differs dramatically to how it used to, with square metres upon square metres of empty space occupying a shell that used to house popular retailers.

The disparity between today’s high street image and that of ten years ago is so extreme that many experts are predicting it will diminish entirely – the ‘Death of the High Street’, as they call it. Whilst the high street has brought significant business for the logistics industry for many years now, how will the closure of physical shops affect the sector? Some claim that logistics will be unaffected; whilst shops are closing, people are still shopping – just not in store – and therefore mass delivery of goods is still a necessity. Other experts however, fear that the extreme growth in the popularity of online shopping will bring with it an even greater pressure and demand than that already experienced by the logistics industry – whilst driver shortage is the current, prominent worry, warehousing space and turnaround efficiency could also become a concern. So, with this comes the topic of this post and the critical question; how can both traders and logistic companies continue to operate efficientlyand profitably during the death of the high street?

According to ParcelHero, by 2030, half of (approximately 100,000) physical stores will be obsolete. Whether such businesses will disappear completely is an entirely different matter – it is likely that some will exist in the online sphere only, whilst many others may struggle to recover from the financial hit. Experts claim that by 2030, e-commerce sales will account for 40% of all consumer to retailer transactions, although the figures are already high – TextLocal reports that almost 80% of people report having used their mobile phones for online shopping at some point, with over 20% doing so at least once a day.

Whilst this is excellent news as it signals the strength of our developing networks and technologies, for the logistics industry it brings a growing pressure, and not just in terms of delivery. Whilst the driver shortage and uncertain future of EU workers certainly raises concerns – as we have explored before – there is an additional, pressing problem: warehouse space. Researchers from the BBC claim that demands for warehouse space have risen due to the growing popularity of online shopping, with demand doubling over the past ten years. The total purchased/leased warehousing space across the UK now mirrors the dimensions of 3,000 Wembley Stadiums, with 60% being used by retailers. A decade ago, they accounted for just 1/3 of the space. In correlation with this has come rise in warehouse rental prices. So in addition to the sector’s aim to maximise and organise warehouse space to optimise deliveries and cater for the digital changes, for some, financial worries are present, particularly for smaller businesses.

At this point, the path to overcoming these issues is not black and white. Truthfully, it may take a number of years to calculate the perfect formula, and trial and error may become commonplace. Although digital shopping has been around for years now, its popularity has never been greater, and so it will take time to find the right balance that suits each individual logistics operator and their unique demand. In the meantime, there are a number of aspects that need to be prioritised to maximise smooth-running: cost, warehouse location, space, machinery needs, monitoring systems, staff and fleet size. Should all these be considered, it’s entirely possible that current warehousing concerns can be lessened, but as we say, we expect that a key factor amongst these priorities is time and simply exercising various methods until all boxes are ticked.

In many ways, the ‘Death of the High Street’ is a sad mark for British culture. Of course digitalisation has its strengths and its growth is certainly reflective of its usefulness to business; both national and global connectivity is readily available at the touch of a button, expanding potential demographics and offering wider profit opportunities, but as the industry has worked alongside retailers and their stores since shopping became such a prominent feature of our society, it is saddening to see many closing their doors permanently. Here at Barnes, we therefore think it’s important to adopt a positive perspective on this by seeing it as a new ‘era’. The online movement does not alter the necessity of the logistics industry for UK retailers, it just changes the dynamics somewhat, and in a time when the number of drivers is already worrying, it can be frustrating that the sector is faced with an additional concern. But, as with the driver shortage and Brexit, we’re confident that the industry will remain vigilant and resilient in the face of warehousing concerns and that the perfect formula will be found in no time.

If you’re a business in need of warehousing space, we are able to help as we have over 50,000sq feet of secure storage. To find out more about our facilities and to get in touch, click here.

Cyclists and Lorries: Prioritising Road Safety over Blame Culture

In early June, a wonderful but somewhat surprising video went viral on social media. A young girl, confidently riding a bike on an A road gives a HGV driver a thumbs up as he overtakes, praising his wide and patient manoeuvre. We describe the video as surprising as it contrasts the usual destructive media posts on HGVs and cyclists. Typically, our screens and papers are overrun with negative press describing ‘yet another’ accident between the two vehicles, and upon reading, it can be difficult to ignore the overtones demonising HGV drivers and its accompanying scaremongering discourse. Unfortunately, collisions between HGVs and cyclists do happen, but, so do many safe overtakings, and yet the video shared earlier this summer is a rarity within UK news.

Despite the prevalence of negative press on HGVs road-sharing with bikes, the reality of collisions is significantly less than suggested. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents,only 1.5% of cyclist casualties happen in collisions with HGVs, with the majority of accidents (79%) actually occurring between bikes and cars. However, due to the size and weights of heavy goods vehicles, the 1.5% of accidents which involve a HGV accounts for 16% of cyclist fatalities.Although these statistics are significantly lower than the general media suggests and whilst we are keen to tackle the media-stimulated stigma of HGV drivers, here at Barnes, we do understand that the figures of cyclist casualties and fatalities are too high, and we are certain that other road-users can agree; regardless of your vehicle type, everyone should be entitled to travel safely on Britain’s roads. The following will therefore focus upon the ways in which the industry is aiming to overcome cyclist safety issues, and largely, it seems that education is key.

In many accidents between HGVs and cyclists, it seems that limited vision (from the cab) is a contributory factor. Equally, it appears that many cyclists do not know the limitations to a cab driver’s vision, and so a number of programmes have been launched in an attempt to better this knowledge between the two parties. However, not all of these have been met with positive reactions – just last year the Department for Transport faced criticism for producing a video which cyclists labelled as ‘victim blaming’. The text depicted a cyclist being caught by a HGV as it turned left at a junction and was narrated with the caption: “Don’t get caught between a lorry and a left turn. Hang back”.

Evenly, we highlight how HGV drivers face similar accusations; an online publication produced an article on the Metropolitan Police’s ‘Exchanging Places’ programme and wrote about how it aimed to educate cyclists on the ways in which HGV drivers ‘choose’ not to see cyclists. On overview, it seems that blaming occurs on both sides, but it is imperative to consider that neither parties wish for an accident to happen, and in the event of one, there will be damage for both vehicle operators – if not physically, psychologically. Instead, we hope that attention can be shifted from this blame culture to instead fall upon the awareness of the limited perspective of both drivers and cyclists.

In some parts of the country, this education is well under way; the ‘Exchanging Places‘ programme aims to address this very matter through advanced technology, using a 360-degree film to display the reduced vision from the perspective of a lorry driver and highlighting how a cyclist could position themselves when in the presence of a heavy goods vehicle. As it stands currently, police are planning to promote the film to schools, cycle clubs, youth centres and offices.  We hope that in the future it will be made available to an even greater demographic, including haulage companies and car drivers, as every road user would benefit from understanding the ‘safe spaces’ for cyclists to position themselves in. It would increase awareness and potentially reduce cyclist casualties and fatality statistics even further.

The perspective of cyclists has not been ignored; in London, over 1500 lorry and van drivers have participated in ‘cycling training’ to better understand the dangers that bike-riders may face. The course, accredited by the Fleet Operator Recognition and founded by Transport for London, sees drivers learning for three and a half hours in a classroom before taking a bike to the road for the same time period.

Additionally, Transport for London is launching a star safety system. The board will ‘grade’ HGVs based upon how much a driver can see from the cab without the use of mirrors or cameras. These ‘safety permits’ are set to come into effect as early as next year with the view to ban ‘zero star’ rated heavy goods vehicles from Greater London by 2020. By 2024, officials plan to increase this to a minimum of three stars. If awareness can be raised of both cyclist and HGV driver perspective – or lack of (and thus extra safety cautions needed to be taken by both) – we believe that this has the potential to dramatically reduce collisions.

Largely, the statistics need to be reduced – this goes without saying – but, it is evident that many industry bodies are exerting significant effort into planning and running what we deem to be effective campaigns which we hope will be rolled out across the country. We would encourage all drivers and keen cyclists to participate in the discussed programmes and to practice and promote the safety of all road users, and hopefully, in the near future, statistics on cyclist casualties and fatalities will be dramatically reduced.

Why is There No National Logistics Day?

August has long been known as ‘silly season’; this month alone we have seen National Afternoon Tea Week, National Left-Handed Day, National Prosecco Day and National Dog Day. Despite the seemingly arbitrary nature of such days, they have become a daily commonality, so much so that the media has now passed comment; Radio 1 recently took to doubting the necessity of having days dedicated to somewhat ridiculous causes – if they can be defined as a ‘cause’ that is. In reality, national days are little more than a marketing ploy. Admittedly, the marketing invention has proven undeniably successful, although perhaps most frustratingly it seems to be more successful for the bizarre national days rather than those that are truly in need of awareness, such as those that recognise illnesses or socio-economic issues. However, this got us thinking that there were perhaps issues and industries that are not allocated an awareness day, despite being arguably more important than the likes of ‘National Lazy Day’. There are various occupations and sectors that are vital to the UK economy and yet receive very little recognition, so here at Barnes we delve deeper into the question that, in our opinion, bares no rational answer – why is there is no National Logistics Day?

In recent months, we have expressed a belief that often, consumers are unaware of the process that brings the deliveries to their doorsteps and items to their local shops. Whilst a national day celebrating this process may help to bring about greater awareness, it also opens up an opportunity for what we would consider to be more significant still; it would allow for companies, industry bodies and the general public to celebrate the people behind logistics. It is vital to remember that although the supply chain process needs to be considered when making purchases, behind the packing, warehouse stocking and truck driving is a human being who is dedicated to providing a much-needed service. And with pressure mounting in the midst of a driver shortage crisis and the risk to businesses of losing employees due to Brexit, a National Day in which the nation and employers could come together may just be what is needed to remind logistics employees why their dedication matters, and could help towards boosting the industry’s image by promoting it as a brilliant career path that values their own.

The Road Haulage Association has made progress towards a day of this kind; for the past four years the industry body has hosted a ‘National Lorry Week’ in September. Whilst this is a step in the right direction, it places emphasis on the machinery as opposed to those who operate it. Additionally, it only promotes a narrow view of the logistics industry – whilst we appreciate that the RHA is a supporting body for road transport operators, the campaign leaves warehousing and storage specialists out of the celebration. A ‘National Logistics Day’ on the other hand would offer greater inclusivity of the entire supply chain.

Here at Barnes, we are always actively campaigning on behalf of logistic employees, from ensuring that all their rights are addressed to supporting workplace wellbeing. Under the umbrella term of wellbeing falls appreciation, as it truly does affect individual welfare. To address the concerns raised within this piece, we propose that National Lorry Week is combined with National Logistics Day, for even if these events go unrecognised to the general public, receiving acknowledgement from employers will boost morale, motivation and commitment. With persistence, this movement has the capability to achieve public attention which would subsequently aid the driver shortage and influence the consumer behaviour which has become so dependent on the supply chain. We argue that a day celebrating the supply chain has only positive outcomes.

With National Lorry Week just three weeks away, the opportunity to incorporate a wider element is there. Let us know how you plan on recognising your employers by dropping us a Tweet.

Life after the Army: Joining the Logistics Industry

For most people, security in a job and home and easy access to medical services is a lifestyle priority. For those of us who have such security, it can be difficult to comprehend that others may not be so fortunate, yet there are rising media reports of a harsh reality existing around us: homelessness, unemployment and mental health problems are not only a common occurrence but a growing problem amongst ex-army personnel.

According to reports, there are approximately 13,000 homeless veterans across the UK, and horrifically, almost all are suffering with PTSD. This can then lead to further problems, as some turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with their mental health difficulties. Similarily, it has been found that ex-servicemen and women can struggle with employment prospects after life in the army; the Trajectory reports that only 52% of early service leavers report to be in education, training or employment within six months of leaving. They also found leavers to be at a higher risk of offending, alcoholism, homeless and mental health problems. Here at Barnes, we believe we are not alone when we say that these figures are too high and that more needs to be done to help and protect those who have bravely served their country.

To offer better understanding, many charities and experts explain that the difficulty transitioning back into civilan life after service is a significant cause of the above issues. So how can these problems be resolved? For those who are concerned by what job prospects may be available after service, we hope to raise awareness of careers within the professional driving industry.

Despite it being a reported concern of ex-army men and women, it is important to note that many of the skills acquired during service are transferrable to a life as a driver. The logistics industry requires employees that are calm, organised, responsible, alert, have good physical strength and high levels of concentration. Driving careers also have a similar structural aspects to life in the army – although the two are very different occupations, both are immersed in camaraderie and belonging, follow schedules and have set tasks, and both employ a team of experienced leaders that not only provide daily guidance but also encourage open, honest conversation between colleagues. All HGV drivers enjoy a number of benefits including travelling the country, job flexibility and independent and team working. In terms of the qualifications required of a HGV driver, visit a previous post of ours which breaks the requirements down.

Here at Barnes, we are passionate about helping ex-army men and women back into civilan life, and hope to promote the security a job within the driving industry offers. However, with this, we are sadly aware that even with strong job prospects, issues of health service access and homelessness can exist indpedently and so the following paragraphs aim to address this.

In terms of mental health, we believe that our in-house attitude challenges old-fashioned business models as we operate an open-door policy where we encourage all employees to confidently discuss with us anything they wish – and most importantly, we stress that all our conversations are confidential. Additionally, it is important to know that even with workplace support for mental health (and any other health issue for that matter) available, there are also a number of services available outside of the workplace too – we’ve listed the name and numbers at the end of this post and encourage you, or anyone you know that is struggling to reach out to them. Similarily, for homelessness there are a number of charities available to help find accommodation for those in need. Again, these can be found at the end of this post.

Although it can be challenging to make the transition from serving in the army to civilan life, all service personnel should know of the options they have post-army, and simply knowing of such options can ease this transition. We activitely encourage all prospective drivers to get in touch – ex-personnel or not – as it is fantastic, rewarding and has many benefits, but for those joining us from the army, it is a particularly worthwhile career path. Do not hesitate to get in touch with us on either: 01706 248795 or admin@barneslogistics.co.uk to kickstart your logistical career today.

 

Charities that help with mental health:

Combat Stress: 0800 138 1619/https://www.combatstress.org.uk

Help For Heroes:  01980 844280/ https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/get-support/get-support/

SSAFA: 0800 731 4880/ https://www.ssafa.org.uk/help-you/do-you-need-our-help-or-support

Veterans First Point: 0131 221 7090/ https://www.veteransfirstpoint.org.uk/get-support/veterans

 

Charities that help with homelessness:

Help 4 Homeless Veterans: 0808 802 1212/ http://www.help4homelessveterans.org/contact/

Soldiers off the Street: 01745 356 622/ https://www.soldiersoffthestreet.org/contact-us

Once, We were Soldiers: 01530 839531/ https://owwsoldiers.co.uk/contact-us/

Stoll: 020 7385 2110/ https://www.stoll.org.uk

Veterans Aid: 0800 012 6867/https://veterans-aid.net/contact/

How Have Consumer Habits Changed Logistics?

Our previous blog post explored the rising costs placed on HGV drivers and their employers despite the obvious increase in demand for the services they provide. So not to stray too far from the financial topic on which the piece was centred, the definition of ‘demand’ was brief, and so we felt it necessary to produce a subsequent post that offered greater clarity by exploring such ‘demand’ at a deeper level.

Our lives are heavily influenced by logistics; food, technology, furniture, clothing, vehicles and their structural makeup (fabric, screws, wiring) are firstly manufactured and then passed along the supply chain until it eventually reaches the intended customer. This process has a substantial reliance on freight drivers and without their input, it would not be possible for each of us to have either the basics nor the luxuries that we desire. The supply chain process in many ways falls victim to a ‘behind-the-scenes’ effect; although it is an integral part of procedure, it is all arranged, organised and utilised away from the customer. Unless the end-user is there to sign for a parcel as it arrives, there will often be no interaction with drivers, and so a driver’s contribution (as well as that from other logistical employees) to almost all owned items is largely unknown and unacknowledged. Whilst modest drivers may not fare this a problem, the issue lies in the growing demand for deliveries and its accompanying complaint: ‘there are too many lorries on UK roads’.

A significant aspect of the increased product demand lies in the companies who offer next-day (and in some cases, same-day) delivery, a service that has come to be not only utilised by customers but expected; Amazon have revealed that 100 million people are signed up to their Prime service – a stand out feature of which is next day delivery. It stimulates concerns within us and others within the logistics industry that this want for immediate delivery will only increase in the coming years, and as an industry already in great need of new drivers and with the costs discussed in the previous blog deterring potential new talent, it seems absurd that the very idea of next-day delivery can even be offered to consumers. Supply Chain Digital claims that as a result of the demand, retailer and supply chains alike are being forced to be more agile so as to retain customer satisfaction, but as with most issues in the logistics industry, the idea of increasing ‘agility’ lacks simplicity, as a recent survey by road safety charity Brake revealed that many road users felt unsafe on UK motorways due to the increase in HGV traffic.

Given the size of lorries and the speed at which all road users travel at on the motorway, fears can be appreciated, however, it brings to attention that better education is needed, as research proves road safety levels to be quite the contrary to the given worries. The volume of HGV traffic on motorways has only risen marginally, increasing by 2.6% over the last 11 years, whilst figures recorded over the past six years show a decrease in motorway fatalities and injuries involving a HGV. As Christopher Snelling, head of UK policy at FTA so accurately highlights in reference to these findings: “The driver perceptions Brake has focused on are not reflective of reality”.

It brings to light a vital question; how can supply chains offer greater agility (often through delivery options, thus affecting HGV drivers) when the very presence of lorries making such deliveries are continuously being demonised by both the press and public? So whilst consumer habits are changing the logistics industry, it seems that the public do not understand how; if they did, surely there would be a greater level of knowledge for why there is significant HGV traffic on motorways (we say ‘significant’ with caution – it is significant in the eyes of the public, but not in terms of statistics). To resolve the problem, we believe that education is imperative. If consumers understand where their products are coming from and the intricacies involved in bringing products to their doorsteps, would there be such a demand, such a demonization and would there be more support in reducing the associated costs of HGV driving? We can only hope so.

Let us know your thoughts on how consumer behaviour has affected your experiences by dropping us a tweet.

 

The Rising Cost of UK Roads vs the Rising Expectation of HGV Drivers

As public and business demand for logistics increases, the nationwide shortage of HGV drivers only becomes more detrimental. As it currently stands, the UK are short of approximately 45,000 drivers – a figure which in a society with a high demand for delivered goods is extremely concerning. Perhaps more concerning still is the lack of efforts being exerted to secure more drivers; it seems that recent industry proposals which supposedly aim to tackle the problems at hand are instead focused on government economic gain rather than real solutions. The monetary gain of which we speak is largely referring to the abundance of new regulations which seemingly aim to lower the worrying levels of emissions yet cause financial strain for those who work within the driving industry. In recent months, the news has emphasised how such financial strains also exist beyond the topic of pollution – articles have detailed how drivers will be fined for working beyond legal hours and how networks such as the M6 toll as well as local councils plan to introduce new HGV charges. Whilst we at Barnes are keen to play an active role in tackling the environmental and social issues that the UK faces, we also wish to highlight the detrimental nature that increasing fines have on an already strained, short-staffed and much-needed industry. The following offers a reflection, drawing on many of our past comments, but considers them in terms of financial impact that new proposals may have by asking, how are the rising costs of UK Roads affecting the rising expectation of HGV drivers?

In July an increase in M6 toll prices was announced. Vehicles can expect to see an increase of approximately 50p; for lorries, this takes prices up to £11.50 during the week and £9.80 at the weekend. The news has attracted criticism from supportive industry bodies like The Road Haulage Association, with the body’s chief executive claiming that the changes make the M6 an unaffordable, unviable route for HGV drivers. The Midland Expressway, however, claim that there is a ‘necessity’ for increases as it will reduce journey times and result in a motorway system that is “great value for money”. They offer further attempts of justification by  adding that ‘pay-as-you-go’ routes are very popular with HGV drivers. The RHA chief, who directly communicate with drivers, presents a contrasting but pivotal point: “Why have the Midlands Expressway decided to increase the rate for HGVs now – at a time when the price of diesel has just risen by another two pence per litre – adding over £800 per vehicle to a trucker’s annual operating costs?”

The news comes after it was announced that haulage companies can now also expect to pay less tax on ‘environmentally friendly’ vehicles, but as we have previously highlighted, it seems that the greater issue at hand is not being addressed; not all can afford to buy an entire new fleet and so are forced to pay more tax.

Additionally, with emissions levels deemed a major issue, hauling bodies are confused as to why such charges are being increased, as they will undoubtedly lead to HGV drivers to use alternative routes to the M6. Such routes are likely to be A and B roads – the very urbanised areas where the government and local councils are attempting to lower pollution levels.

Yet in these very areas, some councils are campaigning to introduce ‘congestion’ charges for HGVs. Dorchester town centre, for example, is keen to implement fines on lorries that travel through the borough without making deliveries, using cameras to track their movements. But as discussed above, it is likely that the M6 toll price hike will cause an increase in town traffic.

In addition to these expected cost increases, there have been a number of other financial hits to the HGV driving industry. Earlier this year, it was announced that on-the-spot-fines would be given to drivers exceeding their tachograph hour restrictions. Having spoken in depth on this issue before, we can only reiterate our previous comments: are drivers only tampering with tachographs to meet strict delivery deadlines? As these issues have continued to develop since our last blog post, we would now like to additionally ask, how can financial punishments be effective when the pressure and expectation on HGV drivers is not easing, particularly with a severe skills shortage to also consider?

It is with great disappointment that we pen our beliefs: eventually, all HGV drivers will be penalised, regardless of route, and yet demand for logistics and deliveries will not falter. With the news of various fines dominating our daily news, we fear that prospective drivers may be deterred from entering the industry, thus worsening the problem at all angles. Thankfully, as an industry, we have a supportive body that campaigns against newly proposed charges, but, as an individual business, we urge the government to address the problems at hand before imposing fines. Realistically, the expectation on drivers is set to increase, therefore it is vital to exert greater efforts into the recruitment and retention of new drivers, whilst also exploring alternative ways to reduce emissions and congestion. If these requests are met, it is possible that the industry can thrive once again.

Let us know your thoughts by dropping us a tweet.

Brexit: Two Years On, One To Go

Ever since the country voted to leave the European Union back in 2017, discussions on the topic has been unsurprisingly pessimistic. With less than a year to go until the big day – 29th March 2019 – in recent days logistics industry bodies have been voicing even more concerns about the Government’s ability to deliver a coherent exit plan.

According to a recent Financial Times report, the sector has ‘lost patience’ with Whitehall, with all from national logistics representatives to individual lorry drivers presenting their dismay at the Government’s lack of action, claiming it is now too late for a frictionless exit from the EU.

Of course, all industries are bracing themselves for the effect that Brexit will have on business – but few will feel the effects as close as ours. Financial services and international businesses will worry about levies and trade, but the logistics industry is the sector which will face physical barriers at borders and as we attempt to run our businesses.

In a previous blog, we highlighted an astonishing figure highlighted by the FTA: that over 90% of all the public eats, drinks, wears and purchases has, at some point, travelled on a HGV. For something which affects such a huge part of everyday life and UK enterprise, surely this should have been made a priority? What is most worrying is reports of the progression of the FTA’s private meetings with the Government: out of the their 8 proposals to keep Britain trading smoothly, none have been implanted yet.

As well as border problems for trade, there is also the issue of EU nationals working in the industry which has, again, yet to be addressed. The driving industry is already facing a serious shortage, with less young people entering the profession and the current drivers facing their well-earned retirement. It is no understatement to say that the industry relies on dedicated workers who come from Europe to fill the skills gap. Until the Government does more to boost and train young people into driving, it would seem that the industry would be taking a double hit if we do address the issue of our need for European workers.

The clock is ticking on the Brexit clock… When will the country’s leaders realise the importance of prioritising logistics?

Is Pollution Polluting the HGV Industry’s Image?

In recent months, there has been one issue at the forefront of the media attention on the HGV driving industry; vehicle emissions. Heavy Goods Vehicles, namely lorries and buses, are positioned by the media as the prominent (if not the sole) cause of the growing pollution problem across both the UK and Europe. Whilst such claims hold some stature – HGVs, due to their size and load weight do cause a higher level of emissions than other fuelled vehicles –  here at Barnes, we fear that the prevalence of news articles that paint HGV pollution in a negative manner is detrimental to the industry’s image despite their importance in a functioning, modern-day society. It seems that the news fails to appreciate the very real, consistent demand for road freight, from both businesses and the public alike, and how this in turn affects emission levels. As a result, we, as an industry, find ourselves caught in a catch 22 situation.

Over the past year, the level of emissions expelled from lorries has not only come to light, but also the ‘cheating’ of emissions has been publicised, whereby lorry drivers and/or freight companies utilise devices that are designed to stop the emissions measuring system from working correctly. To tackle both these problems, numerous methods of resolution have been proposed, from roadside checks, to new levy tax Laws and ‘smart’ traffic lights. Whilst we do not condone neither high emissions level nor the cheating of emissions declaration, we hope that this blog will highlight the knock-on effect of such reports on the freight sector. As a company directly involved with heavy goods vehicles, we see very little effort exerted into maintaining a positive media image of freight transport. To explore why this may be, we firstly need to consider whether the claims on emissions are factual.

Like many others who operate within the transport industry, here at Barnes, we appreciate that given their dimensions, HGVs do release significantly more emissions than their transport counterparts and this is seemingly evidenced with shocking statistics; Reuters report that 65% – 70% of all EU emissions are caused by HGVs. In the UK, the Government claims that lorries produce approximately 20% of emissions of the UK, however, leading industry body, the Road Haulage Association, has challenged such reports with research that finds that lorries and buses to actually only account for 7.6% of NOx emissions – quite a difference in figures. Regardless of the correct figures, the percentage of emissions is too high, and all in the transport industry should commit to reducing these levels immediately to preserve our planet. We’ve brought this to our reader’s attention before in a previous blog, and whilst we still call for action on emission reducing methods, we also ask for clarity for industry operators; this is key in order to correctly tackle the issue at hand. Perhaps if accurate information was clear and readily available, hauliers could make the necessary changes sooner, which in turn, may reduce the negative press.

For all the negative press, there comes a forgotten, but vital, piece of information. The FTA’s Head of UK Policy, Christopher Snelling aptly frames it; “HGVs are an integral part of the economy at both national, regional and local level. Currently, there are no commercially or operationally viable alternatives to diesel in terms of HGV motive power.”

As such, the Road Haulage Association has asked that the Government ‘slows down’ the implementation of emission combat schemes, as currently, it appears that the schemes simply aim to ‘tax lorries out of towns and cities’. By allowing a longer time period of compliance – for many ‘compliance’ refers to the adoption of cleaner trucks – hauliers could allow for relevant charges to be paid whilst also minimising costs on businesses who rely on the vehicles. The turn-around time, the RHA claims, is not flexible enough.

Yet there remains a demand for deliveries within a specific time-frame. Increasing pressure grows for firms to provide a ‘same-day’ delivery service, if not, at the very least a ‘next-day’ delivery option, but are such services sustainable, particularly if hauliers have to replace or modify existing vehicles to comply with results? And if turn-around time is negatively impacted, how will this reflect on the industry in the eyes of the public?

Here at Barnes, we believe that more needs to be done to tackle lorry emissions and those who are cheating emissions. However, we equally feel that more should be done to reshape the perception of the HGV industry and their contribution to emissions; it is a public-serving sector that in recent years has grown considerably and for many, has become a necessity. Therefore, we have become trapped in a catch 22 situation, and in order to comply with emission standards, greater flexibility needs to be provided so not to affect the supply chain of key consumer purchases.

So, we ask, is pollution polluting the HGV industry’s image? Let us know what steps you think need to be taken in order to tackle the emissions crisis by dropping us a tweet.