The Logistics Behind The Holiday Season

Without logistics, your Christmas Day would look rather different. From the food to the presents, the decorations to the drinks – everything that makes the holiday season what it is, starts with logistics.

 

It’s estimated that 4.7 billion miles are covered collectively in the UK every year to deliver presents on time. A further 2 billion miles are travelled just to drop off Christmas cards. It’s a great distance that perhaps isn’t always necessarily appreciated nor considered.

 

When making online purchases, or posting packages, there’s a lot of work that ensues behind the scenes to ensure the safe delivery of a package. In this blog, we will discuss the importance of logistics and HGV drivers at Christmas.

 

Despite what the old fairytales would have you believe, your Christmas essentials aren’t actually made by elves in Santa’s workshops. They’re typically manufactured and then stored in warehouses, ready to make their way to their recipient in time for 25th. It’s very important that goods are stored somewhere safe and secure to meet supply and demand. To support of client’s businesses that require warehousing, we offer 50,000 sq. ft of secure storage space.

 

Your goods are then transported from manufacturer to supplier. This is a transition that ensures when you order something for Christmas, be it a tree, a toy or tinsel, it’s received from the company you bought it from.

 

Following this, is arguably the most important step of the logistics behind your Christmas day – the actual delivery of your goods. It takes a sturdy and reliable logistics company to ensure that the circa 130 billion cards and parcels that circulate the UK during the festive period make it to you safely. There’s an abundance of activity that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that buying gifts and essentials in time for Christmas is an easy and streamlined process for the consumer. That’s why at Barnes Logistics, we aim to maximise our efficiency through a ‘Just In Time’ strategy – flow times are reduced as orders are only moved to specific locations at the required time; reducing the amount of inventory, which in turn reduces waste and saves money.

 

Every step of the ‘logistics behind Christmas’ process requires hard workers and sound planning and organisation. Barnes Logistics is one such business that provides this kind of reliable service. With more than 100 drivers on the road each day, we ensure each of our nationwide customers receive the best logistical solutions to their delivery and distribution requirements, as well as storage. Our ‘just in time’ approach is dynamic and keeps the business of Christmas logistics in check.

 

Did you realise how much happens behind closed doors in the run up to the Christmas period? Tweet us and let us know. Merry Christmas!

Sustainable Logistics – Clean Air Zones and Their Impact

Clean Air Zones (CAZs) – they seem to be cropping up in proposals all over the country. CAZs are areas where action is being taken to improve air quality and lower congestion, making for more sustainable logistics. Designed for cities or certain areas with high levels of urbanisation, Clean Air Zones are attempting to tackle all sources of air pollution, specifically nitrogen dioxide, whilst also reducing public exposure to unclean air.

 

The Government proposed CAZs as areas that aim to “improve the urban environment to support public health and the local economy, making cities more attractive places to live, work, do business and spend leisure time. They support cities to grow and transition to a low emission economy thus ensuring these benefits are sustainable for the long term”, as discussed in Motoring Research.

 

CAZs propose that HGVs are the leading cause of the nitrogen oxides (NOx) that pollute our cities and therefore are faced with charges of up to £100 a day just to enter the area. On the contrary, in fact, HGVs account for only 18% of local road traffic NOx emissions nationally.

 

HGVs play an essential role in the economy – irreplaceable in some respects. The largest truck can carry the load of 20 vans. If some areas replaced trucks with vans as several local authorities are proposing in an effort to reduce emissions, they will end up increasing the number of vehicles on the road, along with their congestion and emissions. This would result in a total contradiction to their original aim.

Clean Air Zones also run the risk of displacing traffic to the surrounding residential areas as many drivers will undoubtedly drive around the zone in order to avoid paying charges and penalties. This will lead to increased pollution and exacerbate existing problems with congestion outside the CAZs.

 

SMEs will suffer when it comes to these daily charges as many will not have the expenses to upgrade their fleets to cleaner vehicles – a typical 18 tonne truck can cost over £40k; even seasoned hauliers cannot afford to make these replacements over a period of months as many local authorities are proposing.

 

The proposed daily charges on top of fleet upgrade costs will undoubtedly result in a tax on haulage as well as a tax on business, leading to higher prices for everyone. This could potentially see the decline of high street businesses and other small business owners closing down because they cannot afford to shoulder the increase in costs that hauliers will have to charge to keep business profitable.

 

Although Clean Air Zones as they are, may not be the most effective way of combating the environmental problems emissions cause, there are things we can do to improve them as well as other measures we can take to prevent the situation from getting any worse.

 

One suggested improvement, there should be more of a restriction on the placement of CAZs. Given their disruptive effects on local businesses and people, as well as limited benefits, they should only be used where absolutely necessary – places where NOx levels are extremely high or at risk of getting higher.

 

Local authorities should also look into smarter uses of their roads. For example, giving hauliers the flexibility to deliver at night would result in HGVs being removed from many congested urban roads during peak business hours. By allowing HGVs to use bus lanes outside of commuting hours, drivers would be able to operate as efficiently as possible and avoid sitting in congestion. A lorry stuck in traffic, can sometimes consume up to three times the normal amount of fuel they would use travelling at a constant speed. In addition, the Government needs to provide local authorities with sufficient guidance and resources to identify congestion hotspots and improve traffic management. This could reduce emissions and minimise the need to charge any road users, including HGVs.

 

These are only a few suggested changes but there are others that should be considered. The British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association (BVRLA), Freight Transport Association (FTA), Road Haulage Association (RHA) and National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) have come together to create a handy guide to CAZs, including several other suggestions for CAZ modification. You can find it here.

 

We hope that some of these suggestions will be implemented in the near future so we can start to make a real change to our emission levels without dramatically affecting businesses.

 

What are your thoughts? Tweet us and let us know!

Gender Equality – How Can We Make The Logistics Sector A More Welcoming Place?

The logistics industry is typically male dominated, with female employees making up just 2% of the global sector. However, at Barnes Logistics we don’t see it as so. Women in varied positions make up a large chunk of our valued workforce, and we are always invested in encouraging more women into logistics.

How can we make logistics a more welcoming industry for all genders?

Altering perceptions

Logistics typically has the stereotype of being a ‘man’s line of work’. For example, when picturing a delivery driver, one might typically picture a male. The same goes for those working within warehouses. Of course, this illustration doesn’t paint a modern picture, and the industry has seen a vast transformation. Nevertheless, the stereotypes still seem to linger to this day.

To make the logistics sector a more welcoming and inclusive place for all, we need to rid ourselves of stereotypes and start recognising this industry as an opportunistic place to work that welcomes people of varying ages, genders, race and so forth. Altering dated stereotypes can help to change perceptions, and so the rest will follow suit as more women feel encouraged to start a career in logistics.

Speaking to all audiences

Due to the nature of the logistics sector, this could leave other genders that don’t typically confirm with the ‘male’ stereotype, anxious about approaching the industry, not least looking to work within it.

Organisations such as Women In Logistics, who are part of the CILT and currently have over 4000 members, are doing tremendous work in encouraging varying genders into the industry. However, there’s always more that we can be doing.

Pledging to alter perceptions is one thing, but what can be done

Another way to make the logistics industry more inclusive and welcoming could be to host open days. Focusing these on female-friendly working environments could be a great way for the logistics sector to pull together and make the entire industry a more welcoming and equal place for all.

Shifting the focus from young people to women

The logistics industry is very focused on recruiting fresh new talent into their pool, which of course is inclusive to young women too. But in order to make the sector more welcoming in the name of gender equality, something could certainly be done to place more emphasis on attracting and hiring young female talent through school visits, open days and strategic targeted marketing. Organisations like Think Logistics could be utilised in this way, they were created to “bridge the gap between young people looking for a rewarding career and logistics companies looking for talented individuals capable of moving the industry forward.” If such organisations can gear their efforts towards young women, then the sector could begin to see real change.

What are your thoughts? Let us know on Twitter.

Tackling Climate Change: Who Foots The Bill?

As a forward-thinking business in the industry, climate change and environmental issues are topics we have discussed at great length – from HGV Levies to emissions statistics. However, it has been noted by more than ourselves that the transport and logistics industry seems to take a disproportionate level of blame and, therefore, expectation for change.

 

Of course, all must work to reduce our carbon footprint, but the world cannot simply expect the logistics industry to foot the bill of climate change – both in terms of finance and convenience – of lowering the sector’s impact on the planet, whilst relying on it with increasing demands.

 

Never has this disparity become more starkly clear than in the results of a recent report from Barclays. The study looked at customers’ willingness to be greener with their retail deliveries.

 

Although respondents indicated that they expect businesses to offer more sustainable options for deliveries to help tackle climate change, they do not wish to share the increased cost associated with this. Customers are more likely to be swayed by businesses which offer green options for their deliveries, however, 62% said that they would not be willing to pay for these, and a large majority of older shoppers would expect the business to fully absorb the cost.

 

The study focuses on a respondent’s relationship with retailers, but the issue is inherently tied with retail business’ logistics providers. Although there are increasing demands from customers to have deliveries which are increasingly quicker and greener, the expectation is that this is not something worth paying for – a clear discrepancy between expectations and responsibilities.

 

The first step has been made with this study – it is important to discover more about consumers’ true feelings on eco-friendly deliveries and payment if plans are to be made to tackle a change in attitude.

 

Reducing the impact we have on our planet is an effort shared by all – where it is everyone’s responsibility, everyone should share the burden of cost. This could be in the form of higher delivery charges to cover the cost of eco-friendly fuels and lorries, or working with consumers to reduce the expectations of same- or next-day deliveries.

 

In time, it is hoped that the choice to be greener will be less costly as technologies advance; but, until then, let us remember that working to save our planet and tackle climate change is a responsibility and cost we all must carry together.

Smart Tachographs and Logistics Investment

The DVSA have recently announced that they will not be investing in the technologies to read data from new smart tachographs. Following recent EU legislation which lead to the mandatory move from digital to smart tachographs in new commercial vehicles this summer, the agency stated that the cost of these new technologies are too high to justify the benefits.

 

So, how do these new smart technologies differ? Data from smart tachographs will be able to be read remotely and in real time, rather than vehicles having to be pulled over and stopped for this data to be read by enforcement agencies.

 

The idea behind these new tachographs would seem to benefit all parties – enforcement agencies will save a significant amount of time with all the necessary data at their fingertips, professional drivers’ schedules will not be disrupted and, most importantly, increases compliance, ensuring the safety of HGV drivers and other road users.

 

It can be understood why the DVSA has made this decision – with only new vehicles fitted with smart tachographs, they must still invest in manpower to maintain the physical checks necessary for current vehicles’ digital tachographs. This decision will have been further influenced by the fact that the same regulations which mean new vehicles must be fitted with smart tachographs only require that agencies employ full use of monitoring technologies in 2034 – 15 years away.

 

But where does this leave the logistics industry? And what does this say about the investments made to improve our sector?

 

It shows an inconsistency within policies. The latest technologies are being pushed on industry professionals – but, despite this, drivers are still being held to old rules by other parties, meaning that we cannot fully reap the benefits.

 

Surely, as an industry, embracing new technologies should be encouraged and made as easy and attractive as possible. Legislations which enforce new technologies which cannot be monitored by the appropriate enforcement parties can leave the industry feeling flat – as if the new advances in safety and efficiency are not taken as seriously as they should.

 

Should all bodies not be working together and moving at the same pace? The RHA certainly seems to think so – they have recently expressed their disappointment, with Tom Cotton, head of licensing and infrastructure at the RHA, stating: “Our members have invested in this technology to become compliant with these new regulations, so why is DVSA not prepared to show the same commitment?”

 

Surely, rather than holding off until more lorries are fitted in the future, a middle ground should be met which proportionately matches the use of new smart technologies and can be increased as more vehicles are equipped with them?

 

What are your thoughts on this latest decision? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us.

Barnes on: The Importance of Logistics

Can you ever imagine what life would be like without the convenience of next day delivery?  Or perhaps you were hoping an item in your favourite shop was getting restocked so you could buy it during your next trip to your local high street but to no avail?  Imagine that suddenly, multiple people are reporting that their goods have not been delivered on time or supermarkets are not receiving their regular orders.  This is certainly a scenario that may not be out of the ordinary, reflecting a future, where the driver shortage has gone too far and put an obstacle in the smooth-running of the UK’s supply chain.    

It is without a doubt that logistics and professional drivers are the lifeblood for not only the UK supply chain but also the economy.  This was strengthened by a recent statement from the FTA’s Peter Snelling who said that “Over 90% of everything the public eat, drink, wear and build with travels on an HGV at some point in the supply chain.” 

In light of the current difficulties that the industry is facing, specifically the skills gap and the uncertainty presented by Brexit, logistics operators and HGV drivers are still working hard to meet the needs of customers and keeping shops stocked.  The upcoming deadline of Brexit is expected to worsen the situation as restrictions will be put in place, affecting international workers in the UK. 

In the 2019 Logistics Report, it was cited that 15% of HGV driver vacancies are not being filled because of the current skills shortage; which begs the question of how much longer the industry can keep its head above the parapet?  It is imperative that changes are made.  

The industry is facing an ageing workforce with a small number of young entrants, which is partly down to the lack of education on career paths.  It is important now more than ever to change young people’s perceptions and correct any misconceptions.  Statistics from the FTA advise that only 1% of HGV drivers are under the age of 25, with the average age of a driver being 53 years old and the over 50s age group represent 47% of all drivers.  

The FTA has advised the Government to reform the Apprenticeship Levy and replace it with a new Training Levy, leading to more opportunities for vocational training, as well as ensuring the upskilling of the UK’s workforce. 

There can often be expectation for school pupils to access the career paths, what has become over the past decade, the ‘traditional’ way through university.  The importance of professional driving jobs needs to be conveyed as they contribute to the success of the UK’s supply chain.  The Government could certainly use its platform to raise awareness of jobs in the logistics industry.  

Clarity on Brexit is needed, and it is the country’s political and trade uncertainties that has initially affected the number of drivers from the EU working in the UK.  We need to see a change in the industry and great urgency is needed to break out of the ageing workforce to keep the supply chain afloat. 

What do you think can be done?  Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @Barnes_Logistic.

How To Choose a Logistics Company?

When businesses expand start looking for external secure storage solutions, or large established companies begin the search for professional road haulage, there are a deluge of deliberations to take into consideration which all boil down to one question: how to choose a logistics company?

Location

Logistics is all about physical connectivity, so it is only natural that location is a major consideration. A logistics company’s headquarters must be well placed for both intra- and international travel. With close links to the UK’s major road networks, our new headquarters in Rochdale – located just off the M62 – is the ideal location for businesses throughout the UK.

Safety

Just as the ease of getting your stock to customers is an essential consideration, so too is its safety before that journey. The safety of your goods is paramount, which is why we take pride in our own industry-leading standards of warehouse health and safety. We go above and beyond the necessary requirements – in fact, we were praised at our most recent inspection for our high levels of safety and security.

Professionalism

With a huge range of logistics companies out there, true professionalism stands out. You need to be confident that every member of your logistics team – from the office, to the warehouse floor, to the drivers. Professionalism can be boiled down into two main qualities: training and attitude. We ensure our employees are all highly-trained and enjoy being a part of the Barnes team.

You can find out more about our team of professionals, from our Transport Planners to our Human Resources team.

Flexibility

Finally, the nature of logistics must allow an element of flexibility. As specialists in Just In Time logistics, we ensure that strategies are precisely timed for maximum efficiency with goods re-stocked and distributed before they are sold out. However, should an unexpedectly large order come in from your customers, the flexible nature of Barnes Logistics means that our transport managers and drivers will work to create a plan to get the best outcome for your business.

So: how to choose a logistics company? Simple: choose Barnes!

The Value of Fleet Investment

Logistics businesses depend on their fleet – it’s at the very heart of their success. But unlike non-commercial vehicles, business fleets go through more wear and tear in a shorter amount of time. As a company’s fleet brings in vital revenue, it is imperative that capital is re-invested back into these vehicles.

Why? Our commercial vehicles must constantly be upgraded; but this investment needn’t be viewed as a necessary but tiresome expense – it also results in improved efficiency and greater reliability.

With drivers undertaking frequent shifts, investing in quality vehicles is imperative. Up-to-date vehicles have the latest technology, which increases the safety of the drivers and other road-users as well as the efficiency of the fleet, ultimately escalating profits. Upgrading means investing in the latest safety equipment like rear view cameras, hands-free smartphone connections, and up-to-date tachographs. Modern satellite navigation systems also drastically decrease delivery time by helping drivers navigate road closures and traffic build-ups, among other things. Furthermore, these new fleet improvemennts boost employee satisfaction and serve as a great promotion for a company’s products or services.

Reductions in maintenance costs are another benefit of the investment in fleet vehicles; as they are used every day they require regular maintenance. Fleet upgrades reduce a company’s maintenance costs and extend the vehicles life span as well as make sure the vehicle is safe to drive. Costly maintenance repairs can also negatively affect the delivery time of a load, negatively reflecting on the company’s overall reputation.

Another means to improving the value of a fleet is investment into good quality, professional drivers. Ensuring the hiring of properly trained, qualified drivers with experience is an absolute must. Laws and legislations regularly change with driving laws, and so ensuring one has competent drivers means that businesses are always above board and in accordance with the law.

Investment into the sustainability of HGVs is a big topic at the moment, with the current climate situation and the newly imposed government targets for the reduction of emissions, the eradication of fossil fuelled vehicles doesn’t seem too farfetched. Additionally, the rising number of natural gas fuelling stations in the UK is an indication that business owners are looking to invest in environmentally friendly transport vehicles. Although the technology is still in its developing stages, it’s always worth keeping an eye on and investing in the future before laws change and businesses are penalised heavily for burying their heads in the sand and continuing to run fossil fuelled HGVs.

As stated, business owners can only invest when these new eco-technologies are advanced enough to be commercially viable, and many vehicles are still reliant on fossil fuels. However, companies can still choose to improve their fleet’s fuel efficiency. Commercial fleets can create huge fuel costs and, for some companies, these costs are as big as their payroll. The automotive industry is investing their efforts into decreasing the overall consumption of fuel across the board and improving fuel efficiency in the logistics sector would be a huge step in the right direction.

Overall, the value of fleet investment is of vital importance to safeguard a business for the furture, and it’s a process we consisitently undertake at Barnes to ensure we provide the safest, most reliable logistics services for our customers. Explore how we can help you with our logistics services.

The Importance of Efficient Logistics

Efficient logistics is imperative for keeping the UK supply chain running smoothly. With Brexit pending and other factors affecting trading in Britain – efficiency in our logistics industry has never been more important. 

There are various elements that create successful efficient logistics management, including warehouse management, sustainability and the importance of automation.  

Efficient logistics is only successful with thorough, detail-oriented warehouse management – maximising storage capacity and using software to sequence products is vital to avoid delays when locating a product when an order has been placed. All staff involved in the running of the warehouse need to be well-versed in warehouse operations to help support efficient logistics.  We pride ourselves in selecting employees that keep our warehouses running smoothly and ensure we’re running in line with our own efficient logistics targets.  Our own Transport Manager for our Midlands sites anticipates potential issues and creates solutions, which is vital for efficient logistics.  You can find out all about his day-to-day in our Behind Barnes blog

In previous years, sustainability has been seen as an extra cost to businesses, but society is becoming increasingly more environmentally-conscious.  Being sustainable as a business is more important than ever, offering an opportunity to develop your business to the constantly-evolving demands of the market.  Sustainability and efficiency go hand-in-hand, a step in the right direction ensure a wealth of resources are available for the future.  To achieve efficient logistics, sustainability may require a considerable investment but it’s safe to say that your business will reap the benefits of an eco-conscious strategy.  It’s also important to keep in mind that customers will be looking to partner with a logistics company that is aware of their energy consumption and reduces emissions, so this investment could lead to increased sales.  Every movement costs money and each mile driven equates to additional emissions into the atmosphere – further highlighting the need to streamline logistics strategy, for example opting for the safest and shortest route to save money.  Optimising packaging so it takes up less volume and doesn’t increase the weight of the item is also a step closer to efficient transportation.   An eco-friendly strategy could also benefit a company by avoiding excess fines or penalties from environmental regulations. 

Opting for a Just In Time logistics strategy plays a significant part in achieving efficient logistics, we pride ourselves with extensive forward planning, with new stock replenished when levels are low.  In a previous blog, we discussed whether this would be affected by Brexit – however, due to the nature of the process, customer spending habits are analysed allowing for strategic stockpiling – resulting in effectively managing key goods. 

As a logistics company, it’s important for us to stay up-to-date with the latest logistics software and we’re always thinking about the different ways we can effectively reduce our environmental footprint.  If you’re interested in partnering with us and discussing bespoke logistics strategies for your business, get in touch today! 

Logistics Automation: Should We Fight the Future?

As the world’s technologies move on at a seemingly exponential pace, no industry is left untouched by modern progression. As machine capabilities increase and offer the same, or even heightened, levels of productivity at a lesser cost, a question of morals and commercial viability presents itself. At what human cost should businesses employ new technologies?

From automated stock retrieval systems to palleting robots, the logistics sector has seen a huge leap in technological advances. Where once, many decades ago, workers would be responsible for all movement of goods, today machines are used to aid the increased demand levels from clients across the globe.

The main argument against logistics automation is similar to that discussed in our previous blog on autonomous lorries – employment. Across all industries, there is the worry that machines will replace humans in the workplace, leading to job losses. We will always need human employees no matter what, but if industries are viewed as ‘machine heavy’, would it damage their reputation and affect recruitment?

However, as noted above, we feel we must stress that an increase in technological advances does not necessitate a whole automated warehouse. We must remember that technology may be progressively intelligent, but it is not sentient and will always need humans to manage them. From inputting data to managing repairs, job roles will evolve with computerisation. Furthermore, robotics may well make increase safety and reduce any workplace accidents.

Finally, responsible business owners cannot turn their back on the benefits automation offers clients – reduced costs are passed on to customers to ensure they receive the best value for their logistics investment; providing the highest quality services for the best price is a vital part of the Barnes Logistics ethos.

In the end, it’s a balancing act logistics business owners must manage. Responsible business owners have a responsibility to their employees, customers and the future of their company. As technology progresses and the face of logistics automation changes once more, leaders in the sector must adjust in a way which is both fair and effective.