Roadside Littering: Protecting Our Country

With climate change and the rapidly-shifting natural environment a trending topic at the moment, we felt it would be pertinent to discuss roadside littering, its effects and what should be put in place to prevent it.  As a logistics company, we spend a huge amount of time on the road and with that in mind, littering is an issue we feel obliged to address.

Just recently, BBC Breakfast host Dan Walker spoke on the programme about the issues of littering and the sheer lack of excuses for leaving behind rubbish.  Commenting on his local park over the Easter bank holiday weekend, he found it left strewn with waste from people that had spent the day enjoying the sun just feet away from a bin.  Understandably, there aren’t always bins on roadsides, but this certainly doesn’t give one the right to dispose of something out of their window.  It doesn’t take much to keep a hold of your rubbish and throw it away when you’re near a bin. 

The RSPB and Keep Britain Tidy have reported that shrews, bank voles, wood mice and other animals can get stuck in discarded bottles and die.  The ring pulls on cans also pose a threat with smaller animals choking on them, and hedgehogs can get their heads stuck in empty cans.    According to the Local Environment Quality Survey, there had been a significant decrease in plastic bag littering after the introduction of the 5p charge.  It is of course encouraging to hear that people are reducing their plastic consumption – however, it has also found that littering remains a significant problem. 

Every year Highways England clear 180,000 sacks of litter from motorways and major A roads, a shocking statistic that shouldn’t be this high.  In 2015, the cost of picking up litter was £1 billion in the UK, money that is spent purely due to the carelessness of drivers.  That statistic alone should be an eye opener:  imagine all the other important areas of our country which that sum of money could be spent on.  It has never been easier to recycle and to dispose of goods with an abundance of recycling centres open, and we as a country have the potential to make a positive change on the natural and urban environments of the UK – all it takes is for everyone to contribute in some way, no matter how big or small. 

How could this issue of roadside littering be tackled?  More awareness could be raised with television campaigns and in the media, showing the effect littering has on our natural environment or a representation of just how much it costs to clear up litter in the UK every year.  When it comes to roadside littering, the implementation of road signs to warn against littering or fly tipping would be a good way to reinforce the issue.  Alternatively, using service station signs to let drivers know there’s also an opportunity to dispose of any rubbish. 

In the UK, local councils can charge up to £150 for littering from a vehicle, but perhaps the severity of littering needs to be addressed with the potential for a more expensive fine.  More CCTV could be supported with tougher fines, which then go on to offer an even better chance to discourage anti-social behaviour in the future. 

When you’re next on the road and in a safe area to get out of your cab, we encourage making a conscious effort to pick up any litter you see, this can make a small contribution to a much bigger environmental campaign to keep our country clean.  Professional drivers can be leading examples to all road users.

Let us know on Twitter what you do to help prevent littering in your area or on the road.

Self-Driving Lorries: Could Public Fear Help Our Industry?

Automated, self-driving lorries have been a contentious topic which have grown from rumour to near-reality in recent years. We’ve voiced our concerns about the introduction of semi-autonomous vehicles when the planned ‘platooning’ technique was announced last year – from the decrease in road safety to the threats to employment.

But it seems that it is not just those in the road logistics and professional industries who are troubled by the looming threat of autonomous HGVs: Logistics Manager revealed the results of a survey which found that self-driving lorries were the second most frightening technological advancement, coming closely behind conscious machines.

The fact that self-driving HGVs are only slightly bested in the ‘fear factor’ by, essentially, the concept of robots which can think for themselves outside of human control, is telling.

When delving deeper into the 2,000 respondents’ worries, the reason ‘I don’t trust that they’ll be reliable and as quick to react as a human would’ was a top response, with an incredible 62% sharing this fear. This was a concern raised in our post last year, and the fact that it’s shared by the public only strengthens this.

Interestingly, when probed about their top concern, the respondents also cited that the possibility of machines replacing human workers was worrisome. Given that the study was asking the general public rather than a group of professional logistics workers, it’s understandable that autonomous lorries don’t evoke the same fears of job replacement for our nation’s professional drivers – but the fact that it is still a concern in general shows that we are not happy with the morality of people being replaced by machines.

The less trust the public has in the new technologies behind driverless HGVs, the more barriers the Government will face to implement them on our roads. As well as supporting our dedicated professional drivers, this public fear could also help to boost our industry’s image. The discrepancy between the public’s feelings towards the haulage sector and the reality of their reliance and the high standards of safety has been a topic which we’ve explored previously.

But when forced to think about the impacts of autonomous lorries on our roads, society must reflect on the fact that current drivers are, in fact, an incredibly safe and reliable workforce. Quick reaction times, practical human intelligence and expert training makes our professional drivers the dependable, reliable and indispensable part of the logistics chain.

Let’s hope that the future will bring even more awareness and recognition for our nation’s dedicated professional drivers!

Behind Barnes: Human Resources

As part of our Behind Barnes campaign, we recently caught up with Toni Gilmore, to find out all about her position as an HR Assistant at Barnes Logistics…

  1. What does your role as HR Assistant entail, Toni?

My main duties include making sure all legal documents (such as Drivers Licence etc.) and training is up to date. I also monitor probation reviews, recruitment and organising interviews with managers, as well as Inputting driver hours and reviewing wages reports.  Finally, I look after all holiday and employee allowances.

  1. Can you tell us about your career journey, how did you get your job at Barnes?

I went to Leeds Metropolitan University and studied Psychology.  When I finished my degree, I found an interest in HR and wanted to pursue a career in it.  My first job was in customer service and admin, and I then became a Shipping and Transport Coordinator within the same company. I saw a job posting advertised by Barnes Logistics and with my background in shipping, admin and my degree in Psychology, I was well experienced for the position.

  1. What does a typical day (or week!) look like for you?

The job can look very different from week to week as it depends on what is happening at different depots. Typically, the beginning of the week is focused on wages – collecting and filing all the information from the previous week from all the depots, for example, driver timesheets and tachograph information. This is logged in our system so we can create a wages report and send out purchase orders to agencies where we’ve used their drivers. In a typical week we would also arrange interviews, liaise with managers regarding any driver training which is due and arrange for that to be completed, enrol new starters onto the HR database and generally keep all the systems up to date.

  1. What would you recommend to others looking to join the industry?

I am a big believer in finding an entry level job in your desired career and working your way up. It also helps to research any professional qualifications specific to your desired role in order to stand out from other applicants.

If you think you have what it takes and are interested in a career in the transport and logistics profession, get in touch!

How Will a No Deal Brexit Affect Just In Time Logistics?

The Brexit negotiations have taken more twists and turns than anyone could have imagined when the vote to leave the EU was announced back in 2016. With deals going nowhere and extensions to talks, it’s given business leaders even more time to think about how Brexit will affect their industry.

We’re already seeing the more obvious effects of leaving the EU – customs workers striking this month over the lack of clarity have led to miles and miles of queues at Calais for professional drivers. A simple act such as this has wide-reaching consequences – drivers will not only be frustrated, but their health is put at risk as they remain in the cab unable to move in traffic queues and longer hours are spent on the road. Playing the blame game is all too easy but, ultimately, futile – strikers take such a stand only because of serious concerns for their workplace.

These strikes give a taste of what may be to come in the long term: should No Deal become a reality, drivers will doubtless face long queues when leaving or re-entering the country. But as well as the toll this will take on drivers’ hours, physical and mental health, it will also have an effect on businesses. And Just In Time logistics will be an industry which will be hugely altered should no deal be agreed between Britain and the EU.

Just In Time relies on the efficiency of forward planning to ensure a smooth logistics operation, with new stock transported when levels are low but not depleted. If this month’s queues at Calais are any indicator of what a No Deal Brexit might look like, it would be understandable for business owners to be concerned that delays at borders could lead to a break down in the Just In Time system.

However, at Barnes Logistics we believe that there really is no need for panic. As well as being utterly counter-productive, the fact remains that the majority of businesses have been planning for this eventuality for years. By analysing customer spending habits, we have seen businesses across a whole variety of industries strategically stockpile and more effectively manage key goods.

Although delays at borders may lead to longer delivery times, this is a simple reality which both businesses and customers must face and embrace. If goods have been stockpiled, businesses have safeguarded their ability to make products and sales – with the only net affect being that businesses may have to wait a little longer than previously for their goods to arrive. As long as there is clear communication between both parties, both can plan and prepare accordingly.

At the end of the day, Just In Time relies on thoughtful forward planning to ensure maximum efficiency – and this will remain the key to its success whatever the outcome of Brexit.

Best Storage in Manchester

When it comes to selecting the best storage warehouse for your businesses’ products, decision makers must take a number of factors into account.  Here at Barnes Logistics, we offer a secure warehouse, a range of flexible storage solutions and the implementation of JIT (Just In Time) Logistics strategies is there a better place to start when searching for the best storage in Manchester?

 

Our state of the art warehouse in Rochdale is an ideal choice for the best storage in the Manchester area, with convenient access off junction 20 on the M62 for distribution across the UK and even further afield to Europe. Offering 50,000 sq ft of secure storage space, we can accommodate a high volume of stock from our clients; and our fleets operate from more a than seven sites across the country to support a nationwide client base.  The key to our offering is flexibility: we offer flexible storage solutions including short, medium and long-term contracts to support our customers’ needs.

 

We also pride ourselves in using JIT logistics which, for one thing, allows us to play a vital part in reducing global waste, as well as offer the most efficient logistics services to our customers.  The demand-pull strategy of JIT logistics means that stock is only delivered when it is required, and our top of the range production scheduling software allows for the correct levels of stock to be ordered. Through the use of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange), suppliers and customers can communicate to ensure stock demand is up-to-date and is only obtained when a customer makes an order.

 

We recently had a visit from the Road Haulage Association – who rewarded us with an outstanding report which outlined how Barnes Logistics provides the best storage in Manchester with top safety measures implemented at all times and high quality software to contribute to the smooth-running of the warehouse.

 

Want to find out how we can assist you with the very best warehouse solutions?  Get in touch with our team today. 

Behind Barnes: Transport Planner

This year, we’ll be taking a look behind the scenes at Barnes Logistics and shining the spotlight on the people who make our business the success it is. From our professional drivers to HR managers, it takes a large team to ensure we deliver the highest quality Just In Time logistics services to our clients.

 

Today, we caught up with Joe Haywood, our Transport Planner in Rochdale…

 

What does your role as Transport Planner entail, Joe?

My role involves many things! My job is, broadly, to ensure we have the right number of professional drivers and lorries on the road to meet our clients’ demand and for deliveries to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. You need to be a great communicator, and be able to keep a cool head in high-pressure situations.

 

What does a typical day look like for you?

I start the day planning for the next: we have scheduled rotas and plans in place for the week and I refer to these daily to keep on track. I have to take aspects such as holidays, sickness and any other reasons a driver may not be working that specific day, and to accommodate this. I also manage the servicing of our vehicles – I work very closely with our drivers to learn about, and rectify, any vehicular issues.

 

Can you tell us about your career journey?

I have been working in the transport sector for over five years now, starting at 18 with a role as a Transport Administrator. This got my foot in the door, and whilst I moved up the ladder, I also decided to take time out to travel through Asia and Australia! In June 2018, I joined the Barnes team and have been using the skills and experience I’ve gained throughout the years to Rochdale.

 

What would you recommend to others looking to join the industry?

Transport is a rewarding and exciting industry – but it can be challenging! You have to be an organised person who’s always switched on. New issues come up each day which I haven’t dealt with before, so I have to apply my experience and industry knowledge to each new challenge. It’s always satisfying when you leave the office knowing that you have planned everything correctly and left with it running smoothly.

 

If you think you have what it takes and are interested in a career in the transport and logistics profession, get in touch!

 

 

Beating the Winter Blues

The decorations go up, the glasses get re-filled and the out of office goes on – there’s nothing like a festive break, is there? That is, of course, for those who work office jobs where the whole business can shut down for a week or two and get picked back up again in January. For drivers, the reality can be a little different – whether it’s delivering stock for post-Christmas sales or vital machinery parts for businesses, the world of logistics keeps turning and the roads keep calling, and drivers are often on the road when others are tucked up at home in front of the fire.

 

It is, admittedly, something which can cause drivers to experience some melancholy – which is why, following our previous discussions on mental health and summer driving attitude, we have decided to extend the conversation to a time when many people can often feel at their lowest. A study from the Samaritans in 2014 found that almost half of men felt depressed or sad around Christmas, and with logistics and driving still male-dominated industries (something that we most certainly hope will, and actively work towards, changing), it felt appropriate to look at how those who work in the professional driving sector might be able to help tackle swings of low mood in the run up, and during, the festive period.

 

The first step we would look to take would be one of practicality – countless studies have shown that eating the right foods and treating the body with the respect it deserves has a huge impact on serotonin levels, helping to battle low moods. This doesn’t mean you have to forego the classic Christmas delicacies – the high levels of zinc in walnuts can help in alleviating feelings of anxiety and depression; and sumptuous flavanol-rich dark chocolate helps to regulate mood.

 

Now, we move towards actions which help to engage others – use the time you have, whether it be on or off the road, to bring the merriment to you wherever you are. Make every moment count and ensure time off is filled with activities – drinks at the local with friends, parties hosted with family or, quite simply, sitting down with loved ones to watch a favourite film. There’s no value that can be put on restive quality time. This should not be limited to time away from work – connect with colleagues and other regular road acquaintances and organise some festive fun. Anything as small as organising a round of bacon butties will perk up spirits all round. And the best part of stepping up and leading the charge? You never know how much you might be helping others who are feeling low by reaching out and making that first move.

 

Our final piece of advice begins to move away from the functional and towards the mental – driving over the Christmas period requires a shift in approach and thinking. Embrace the season – avoiding the revelry of December is nearing the impossible, and attempting this will only leave one in misery; so play your family’s favourite festive songs in the cab and take advantage of the opportunity to reflect on one’s blessings. As we speak of reflection, it is worth noting that the increasingly popular act of Mindfulness (the practice of bringing one’s attention to the present moment) may be a useful tool to master – the quiet roads and the beauty of Britain in its wintery glory provide the perfect backdrop to take some time to contemplate and appreciate the state of now. The most important matter to focus on? The visualisation of being back home – after all, as much as we may not be overjoyed working over December, we must focus on the fact that it is all temporary, and soon we will back home in front of the warmth of the fire, with the decorations glittering and our glasses full – Merry Christmas!

Black Friday: Impossible Without Logistics

As Black Friday looms and eager shoppers wait with bated breath to get their hands on the latest deals, the world of logistics is gearing up to work harder than ever. The modern American ‘tradition’ of shops tempting in savvy spenders looking for Christmas bargains with their best deals of the year for one day only has crossed the pond to Britain in the last decade, but what affect does it have on our industry?

 

For the shoppers looking to find purchases in stores on Black Friday, strategic planning is needed by managers in order to ensure that they carry the right amount of stock for the suspected demand. There could be few things worse than losing out on both a sale and customer trust by having to inform them that their desired item is out of stock after hours of queueing. So before the bustling chaos of Black Friday has even begun, logistics professionals will be working closely with retail managers months in advance to deliver the additional stock before the doors open to the public.

 

An emerging trend of recent years, to be expected in this digital age, is that more and more people are taking to the internet to buy their bargains during both Black Friday and its virtual sister Cyber Monday. With online shopping comes another added step in the supply chain. Rather than drivers delivering goods to a store’s warehouse, they must now pick up goods and deliver these directly to the end user.

 

In our previous blog, we explored the pitfalls to the realities of same day delivery, with online retail giants such as Amazon having to pull their same day service. But we must remember that, particularly in times of high demand, that even next day delivery capacity is finite. With so many customers expected to be clicking and adding to carts online, it is not within reason to expect each and every customer to be able to receive their goods the next day.

 

Retailers looking to embrace Cyber Monday must set their delivery targets realistically and handle customer expectations: it is far better to give a customer a longer delivery time slot in the first instance than promise a target which either cannot be achieved, or puts an undue level of pressure on the logistics driver.

 

Which leads us onto our next point: even without next day deliveries, the impact which Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping trends have on the professional drivers of the UK is considerable. Drivers will be expected to work hard to keep up with demand, which is where stringent company Health & Safety regulations and rules are most important. As logistics leaders, we at Barnes Logistics ensure that any increased workload from customers does not lead to an impossibly increased workload on our dedicated drivers – it means investing in more team members. Never do our drivers feel as though they have unattainable delivery targets, leading to illegally long hours on the road.

 

This Black Friday and Cyber Monday, never forget the importance of enlisting the help of qualified, experienced supply chain professionals – they could be the difference between success or failure. If you’d like to find out more about how our teams can help you, get in touch today.

Show Your Truck Some Love

February: the month of love. But put down those flowers and chocolates because here at Barnes we think it’s time to show your truck some love! Not only will taking some time out of your day to ensure your truck’s at its best help with driving efficiency, but it will also hugely increase safety for yourself and other road users.

 

Firstly, always ensure that you have time for a walk around inspection of the vehicle – the best time to do this is just before it’s about to be driven; and is even more important when the vehicle hasn’t been driven for some time. If anything looks out of place, do not take any risks and report it.

 

Brakes are one of the most important safety measures, so check their efficiency with a brake test. Your vehicle should be loaded to ensure that a higher brake force before wheel lock can be tested (you should aim to apply at least 65% of the design axle weight on each axle), and brakes can be tested on a clean and well-gritted roller-brake tester (or RBT). The number of wheels which lock will differ from vehicle to vehicle – but remember that a locked wheel does not always mean a good brake.

 

Refresh your truck and give it an oil change – but might it be time to look at a new oil? There are so many choices out there from the commonly used E7, but consider switching to an oil which can be more fuel efficient such as E4 as E6. Even though many manufacturers have specific oil types, E6 oils meet many E4 and E7 requirements. Whichever oil you choose to use, why not take the time to check and top up or replace your oil to revitalise your HGV.

 

Finally, when was the last time you had a look at your headlights? The days may be getting very marginally brighter, but headlights are still a necessity not only for night time driving but also for driving in adverse weather conditions. But remember, when replacing a headlamp one of the most important factors is aim. Since April 2015, the Government changed that way headlamp aim is measured on MOT tests, aimed at making them more simple to understand and pass.

We hope that these top Barnes tips will persuade you to take just a little time out of your day to show your truck some love this February, and will help make your driving safer and more efficient.

 

HOW TO PREPARE YOUR HGV/LGV FOR WINTER

Winter can really take its toll on all vehicles, particularly HGV’s and LGV’s. We have compiled some hints and tips on how you can keep yourself and your vehicle in check during the colder months and unpredictable weather that is surely ahead of us.

One of the most important aspects of safety when driving in winter is to check the weather forecast regularly for the entire journey and ensure you are leaving enough time to cover any potential disruption to your journey.

While you’re at it you should also be checking your planned route regularly for traffic updates and information about any accidents that may have occurred due to adverse weather conditions or collisions.

Don’t try and get ahead of the Christmas rush by skipping on vital vehicle checks before you are due to begin your journey, it’s not worth it. Check you have all of the necessary equipment with you and thoroughly check your vehicle in advance. Ensure you’ve got appropriate clothing and blankets for extremely cold and dark conditions – your well-being is the main priority here. 

Now that you’re prepped for checking your vehicle no matter the weather, it’s important that you ensure all of your windows, lights, plates and reflective markings, steps and handrails are clear of ice, snow and dirt. You should already be checking your wipers, screen wash and de-misters as part of your everyday check (you’ll also want to avoid jumping down from your cab in wintery weather as there could be an icy trap waiting for you).

Checking the weight of your load is evenly distributed is crucial at this time of year because it can affect your vehicle’s handling. Also remember to adjust your driving after delivering as when your load gets lighter, you could get blown off course with a strong side wind. When your vehicle has a heavier load you have better traction on the road, but too much weight and it will affect your vehicle handling – it’s all about balance in trying weather conditions.

In the case of bad weather conditions, hopefully gritters will will have been out to improve the main A roads but drive with extra care and attention and remember that if your route requires you to take smaller, rural roads you will need to take extra caution as gritters can not always access these locations.

You may be driving one of the biggest vehicles on the road, with lots of sophisticated equipment, but that does not make you invincible – Don’t take risks with your cargo and especially not with your safety.

By sticking to this advice you should be fit to drive in wintery weather conditions as long as you always stay focused and act with extra caution. However, if you don’t feel comfortable driving in the weather conditions, or you feel your vehicle is not prepared for the conditions, find somewhere safe to stop and rest until the conditions improve.