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HGV Levy Changes: Is Tax Our Best Solution?

For those in the logistics industry, news of the new HGV Levy Tax has been unavoidable. In essence, in order to tackle emission levels in our country’s most polluted areas, from 2019 the Government will introduce additional tax rules aimed at HGVs which don’t meet the latest emissions standards.

 

Looking to tackle nitrogen oxide in particular, the Government claims that lorries make up for 5% of the country’s mileage, but produce around 20% of the total emissions in the UK. Those who do not meet the new standards will see a significant 20% added to their tax bill. But there is an upside – those who do meet the standard will be eligible for a 10% reduction in their road tax.

 

Of course, the protection of our planet is of the utmost importance. Here at Barnes Logistics it is a much discussed topicon our blog page, and one which – as a responsible business – we understand we have a significant role to play. There is no denying that HGVs produce larger amounts of emissions and this is a key factor to tackle in the battle for the future of our planet, but is a simple tax the best means of creating a better future for us all?

 

The main issue with the new HGV taxes are very aptly summed up by Christopher Snelling, Head of UK Policy at the FTA: “Over 90% of everything the public eat, drink, wear and build with travels on an HGV at some point in the supply chain.”

 

This poignant statement brings the Government’s previous 5% mileage and 20% emissions claim into a much broader perspective. Of course we must work towards a greener future where lorries are concerned, but the logistics industry is one which is weaved throughout the entire of the UK’s economy – it is not a merely internally benefitting business.

 

Almost every single business across all sectors rely on incoming deliveries of ingredients or parts, and outgoing distributions are necessary for finished products to be shipped to paying customers. So although HGVs may create a fifth of the country’s nitrogen oxide emissions, over 90% of the country benefit from the services provided by logistics experts. So why should drivers and logistics companies be the only ones punished?

 

Of course, we understand that a line must be drawn somewhere, and that taxing businesses for their use of logistics services is somewhat unachievable, and may impact small businesses in particular who may struggle to find the extra funds to cover the costs of their deliveries.

 

So what could be a more sophisticated alternative? Perhaps in the future, the taxes saved and made from these new laws could all be invested into the advancement of more eco-friendly HGV technology, and these technologies could be made more accessible to logistics businesses of all sizes. It would seem to us that the solution lies in creating more advanced possibilities for the logistics industry, as opposed to the relative simplicity of punishing one body for a service that is required by all. If the future of HGVs is lower emissions, more investment must be made into greener technology.

 

What are your thoughts on the new taxes, do you think that there is a better alternative?

HGV Cab Cameras and Media Perception: Is This The Turning Point?

This year, Highways England have harnessed HGVs to help tackle dangerous driving on our roads. Using secret wide angle cameras in unmarked lorries’ dashboards, the inconspicuous trucks have been capturing video records of unsafe driving behaviour.

 

The move follows the success of a trial last year, which saw over 4,000 dangerous drivers caught. By allowing unsuspecting law breakers to be followed by the cab and have their behaviour recorded, police forces could then pull over the offenders and deal with the situation – be it a warning, or a prosecution.

 

What was promising and encouraging to see is the mainstream media’s reaction to these announcements. Rather than berate the ‘spying’ HGVs, the reaction to the police and Highway England’s efforts to increase road safety through immediate intervention has been, on the whole, positive. Although the phrase ‘spy camera’ has a somewhat antagonistic feel, national news outlets reporting about the HGV cameras in a favourable manner.

 

With the exception of a few pieces implying that the new camera systems are an underhand enemy to be loathed, the majority focus instead on what is most important – the driving crimes which are being caught. These cameras aren’t just there to catch out drivers going slightly over the speed limit: they have caught drivers using their mobile phones at the wheel – the dangers of which have never been more prominent than in recent years – a driver writing on a notepad, one eating a meal and even another brushing their teeth!

 

So why is reaction so important? Historically, reporting on HGVs has taken the same one-sided route – sensationalistic pieces reporting lorries’ near misses and irresponsible driving. Although, of course, such behaviour from professional drivers is absolutely abhorrent and should be disciplined appropriately – the issue lies within the bias of reporting and how this influences public perception.

 

If the only stories the public read about the professional driving industry in consumer media outlets involve the few extreme cases of poor and dangerous driving, an assumption will grow about the whole of the driving industry. This can lead to misconceptions and seriously tarnish the reputation of the majority of the safe, skilful HGV drivers whose dedicated work allows the UK’s businesses to thrive. Without HGVs, the country and its economy would come to a standstill – an aspect which is never mentioned in stories reporting on dangerous HGV driving.

 

So the positive reaction to the HGV in-cab cameras is a step in the right direction – at the least, it gives another perspective to HGV stories. Although we are, of course, not there yet in a balanced and fair narrative on lorries in consumer media, we can take hope from the start of this movement and continue to raise the profile of the industry ourselves through our highest quality Barnes professional standards.

Barnes Logistics: A Look Back at 2017

2017 is drawing to a close and the New Year is right around the corner, and we’ve been thinking about all that’s happened this year here at Barnes Logistics…

 

After settling in to our new headquarters after expanding both our fleet and team, we set our sights on growing the business even further. Looking to grow Barnes Logistics organically, for many months we were working on expanding through strategic acquisition. In September, we were proud to announce that we had acquired the Nantwich-based haulage firm GA Newsome. The newly acquired business had its own purpose-built premises offering substantial warehouse space, offices, workshop facilities and parking. The acquisition presented a unique opportunity to expand our presence across the UK, to bring our Just In Time logistics services to even more companies.

 

We’ve been inundated with awards this year – in September, we scooped the ‘Best Logistics & Warehouse Company – UK’ award in Industry Insights Monthly. Later on in the year, we were thrilled to have been awarded the title of  ‘Business of the Year’ for businesses with a turnover of more than £5 million in the annual Rochdale Business Awards. We entered way back in the year, and strove to provide the rigorous judging panel with evidence of yearly business growth, outstanding staff welfare and continued community support. We fought off some tough competition at the black tie awards evening at Rochdale town hall in November, and we couldn’t be more pleased with our win – to be recognised as a business leader in the local area is wonderful.

 

2017 has also seen some significant changes to UK road legislation. We welcomed the increased fine and tougher penalties for those caught using their mobile phones whilst driving.  Back in June, it was reported that the latest crackdown caught 6,000 motorists within the first four weeks of the new rules. Later in the year, the focus moved towards HGV drivers, with the DVSA given the ability to give out on the spot fines for any drivers who break proper rest rules within the previous 28 days.  Drivers must now take their legally required breaks in designated rest areas, or risk fines of up to £1,500. These new rules received mixed reviews – although all road users must be protected from the dangers of tired driving, industry leaders pointed out that there were simply not enough legal rest areas available, and that more must be done to invest in these.

 

All in all, we would say that 2017 has been an incredibly positive and successful year for us here at Barnes – we are certainly looking forward to seeing what 2018 will have in store.

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.

Tachograph Tampering

As a growing problem within the industry, we look to explore, investigate and address the current concerns regarding the tampering of tachographs. Having been an integral part of the HGV mechanic structure since 1985 and present in over six million buses, coaches and lorries, a tachograph almost acts as a fellow passenger – although perhaps a little less talkative. The device is able to record and store the speed, distance, motion and rest periods of a vehicle so that companies can ensure that their drivers are working the legal hours only, and not overtime.

Whilst at Barnes we can appreciate that some employees in alternative industries may seek and be allowed to work increased hours, we also understand the necessity that HGV drivers only work the hours that the EU allows – for the benefit and interest of other road users. One must always remember that the road is accessible to all drivers at all times, and that our own driving can directly impact others. In the coming paragraphs, we shall discuss the shocking, recent statistics surrounding tachograph tampering, whilst also considering why drivers may want to manipulate the technology, and what we can do to tackle this issue in order to keep all drivers safe.

In the EU, the rules state that drivers cannot drive more than nine hours a day, although this can be extended to ten hours twice a week, as long as it does not exceed the fifty six weekly limit or the ninety hour two weekly limit. In addition to this, drivers are required to take specific breaks – at least eleven hours every day, with a potential reduction of nine hours three times between any two weekly rest periods. Furthermore, for every four hours and thirty minutes of driving time, drivers must take a break of at least forty five minutes.

With set rules in place protecting both the HGV driver and other road users, some may question what the problem is. The problem lies in that much tachograph tampering is being done in a bid to reduce the recording of road time hours, with vehicle operators driving for much longer than legally acceptable. After a year of roadside checks, during which 23,000 vehicles were stopped, in September of this year, Britain’s main road regulator concluded that over four hundred lorries had crossed the border into the UK with a tampered tachograph. This reports as a 21% increase on the previous year. Whilst these figures are shockingly high, they are estimated to be realistically and significantly higher, with the DVSA approximating that there are another 400 vehicles with manipulated tachographs on the road each day.

Alarmingly still, these manipulations can be easily done by drivers themselves, using basic materials that interfere with the tachograph signals, which results in the technology incorrectly reading that the vehicle is stationary when it is in fact travelling.

Such facts present an additional question; why would drivers tamper with their tachographs, as it surely extends their working day? Leading industry bodies are concerned that drivers main motivations are strict delivery deadlines, and the prospect of finishing their shift earlier through skipping break periods.

Naturally, the issues which encourage tampering need to be addressed immediately, as they pose threats to other road users; consider the dangers of an over-tired driver operating a forty four tonne vehicle. Largely, the first steps to resolving these issues are, in our opinion, to talk to the drivers (including the many who have not tampered with tachographs), in order to discover how they feel about their shifts, the duration and the pressure they feel regarding deadlines. As any logistical and freight company knows, the mental health of their drivers is of paramount importance, and if areas where they are struggling have been identified, they need to be resolved imperatively.

Here at Barnes, our open-door policy has proven effective in allowing our employees to discuss how they feel about the above issues. Our flexible working hours have catered to many driver’s needs; the freedom of unrestricting hours eliminates the risk of drivers tampering with tachographs and provides a sense of appreciation for their lives beyond the working environment. However, there is still a growing problem within the industry, but with the help of every expert within the industry, we are confident that this problem can be tackled head on.

Same Day Delivery – Is It Sustainable?

Gone are the days of ‘standard – three to five days’ being a sufficient delivery window. In this present day, there are a vast range of delivery options available: time specific, next day, premium, and, the subject of this blog: same day. As a company who works exceptionally hard to fulfil all our client requests with ‘Just in Time’ delivery, we have to question, is a same-day delivery option truly feasible?

There are a number of factors which must be considered – and perhaps these are easier to consider for those who work in the industry and are directly impacted by the effects of same-day delivery. From cost-effectiveness to efficiency, as industry professionals we propose this thought: is it logistically possible to offer a same-day service for a sustained period of time?

One can understand why business leaders, particular for consumer products, might be tempted to trial same day delivery: last year, Ecommerce News found that 72% of UK consumers would shop more if the retailer offered same-day delivery, and that sales could be €5.77bn higher with more delivery options. For those customers placing the order, there is a period of excitement as one waits until the product arrives. But beyond the screen of the online retailer, the logistics sector which drives these industries does not experience the same emotions. The process of same-day delivery is one of pressure, and boxes need to be ticked.

Major international companies like Google, Amazon and Uber have all adopted a ‘same-day’ delivery option, but often, if viewed from a smaller scale perspective, this is not a realistic target for national and local firms. Not all have found it to be a success, however – retail giants eBay have struggled to retain this service; terminating it shortly after it began due to its high costs not matching demand. In addition, with the driver shortage in the freight and logistics industry still a highly prevalent issue, the option of same-day delivery seems far from possible – how can sustained same day delivery be achieved when there are not yet enough drivers on the roads to cope with the current demand from consumers?

Another important consideration to take into account is whether quality control may slip. With time pressures becoming the main focus of warehouse workers, it is not difficult to imagine that mistakes might happen when only a tiny window of time is given for employees to suddenly process orders.

Largely, a concern at the forefront of our minds is the likelihood of every logistical company being able to cope with such a demand. At Barnes Logistics, we are proud to have a fleet with over 100 drivers on the road each day who help us meet order delivery requests; however, we, in our expert opinion, find a ‘Just In Time’ approach to be far more sustainable – a concept you can find out more about in detail in our previous blog. In sum, ‘Just In Time’ works for orders to be moved to specific locations only at the required times, reducing flow times and the amount of inventory to tackle waste and save money. This, combined with our experience and expertise, has proven invaluable to a number of industries.

Perhaps it is time for consumer retailers to take a step back and place efficiency and practicality over increasing their customers’ expectations – particularly given the state of the drivers’ shortage in the UK. Surely managing customer expectations will lead to higher levels of brand loyalty than promising a service which may not be tenable? A slick, well-regulated ‘Just In Time’ system implemented by trained professionals seems a far more economic and skilful logistics scheme to adopt, and one which would offer customers a happy medium in terms of product demand.

If you’d like to know more about the benefits of ‘Just In Time’ and how it can help your business, get in touch with our friendly team today.

Back to School: How to Start a Career in Logistics

It’s September, which means millions of people, young and old, are returning to an educational establishment of some variety in order to, ultimately, better their prospects in the employment market. Here at Barnes, we pride ourselves on employing experienced transport professionals in our teams, in order to ensure a superior service for our clients – but how exactly can one go about starting a career in logistics?

 

There is no one route into the logistics industry given the incredible variety in roles – leading to a diverse workplace filled with workers from a range of backgrounds.

 

For those who know that the supply chain industry is their goal, there are a huge range of higher education courses available – Coventry, Edge Hill and Liverpool John Moores are just a handful of Universities who offer degrees such in supply chain and transport management at both Bachelors and Masters levels.

 

Of course, it is certainly not uncommon that those at the age of 17 are unsure of which sector they wish to spend their post-graduate lives; so, logistics and supply chain courses are not the only path into a career. Those who have degrees based in law, business and management, IT, design or engineering will find a career in the logistics industry where their skills can flourish. From HR to fuel efficiency testing, working in an industry with high levels of professional standards and the strive for continual improvement will provide graduates with a challenging yet satisfying career.

 

Particularly in the last few years as fees have been hiked exponentially and interest rates on student debts seem to see no stability, going to University is not always a plausible, or even possible, route for young people to take. This is where the benefits of apprenticeships cannot be applauded loudly enough: providing the opportunity to gain relevant industry experience and training without the pressure of fee debts.

 

Early next year, the Supply Chain Academy is due to launch an integrated degree-apprenticeship, where students will be employed throughout their training, and will spend a fifth of their time on academic study. This is an incredibly exciting scheme that will allow apprentices to benefit from a fully professionalised course, leading to the younger generation entering the industry to bring far more skills than ever before.

 

Of course, we cannot discuss careers in the logistics industry without mentioning the most vital players in the supply chain: our drivers. To become a professional driver, one must be over 18 and hold a full car driving license in order to complete their Driver CPC – the Certificate of Professional Competence – on a provisional lorry license. Just as in a car driving test, the Driver CPC involves theoretical and practical tests; which incorporate hazard perception and the analysis of case studies.

 

Potential new drivers must then complete the practical test: lasting an hour and a half, drivers must answer questions on vehicle safety and complete both on and off-road driving. Finally, upon successfully passing the practical driving test one must complete a practical demonstration test, where one shows the ability to safely assess and load a HGV, their ability to deal with emergency situations and how to stop the trafficking of illegal immigrants – a subject much talked about in the news recently, as hauliers have seen a 12% increase in fines due to illegal migrants in their vehicles.

 

If a career in the diverse, exciting and demanding world of logistics is one which you might be considering, get in touch with our Barnes team today.

Black Dog In The Cab – The Unwanted Passenger

In a slight redux of a blog post from April of this year we’re going to examine, in greater detail, a particularly concerning health trend in transport professionals – that of mental health, and the causality of problems therein. We have been inspired to further explore this on the back of a recent call, by the Road Transport Industry Training Board, for operators to prioritize the mental health of employees. It’s not an unreasonable suggestion, and as a company which takes a wholistic approach to the conditions of the most important assets we have, devoting some energy to this problem and limiting its potential occurrence is nothing if not sound practice.

It is important, however, for us at Barnes Logistics to consider this from an industry-wide perspective, and not to complacently suppose we are the only company whose drivers are vulnerable to the issue. No… in order to work towards a solution, we must first identify the problems which are, unfortunately, inherent within road transport, and consider what we are doing and what we can do better. Only then will sustainable action be possible.

What can really mislead the casual observer, with little operative knowledge of logistics, is that it looks like a stroll in the park, being paid to drive a well-appointed truck and have a constantly changing vista from one’s office as you traverse the nation. These very true aspects can equally throw many relatively inexperienced, recently qualified, professionals impressed by the huge responsibilities entrusted to their care by a company actively supportive of the recruitment of the future generations of road transport operatives.

However, with experience comes the knowledge that very real stresses are ubiquitous in even the most average of days, and such stresses have, over time, become the accepted ‘new normal’. Be it the pressure of doing battle with the obstacle which is a road network which is increasingly congested in aiming to meet very strict delivery time-slots, finding one’s self away from home for more nights than is ideal for a desired work-life balance, or realizing that an accumulation of familiar factors, otherwise beyond one’s control, will leave one with a perceived, and false, sense of shortfall against routinely professional personal standards of work.

To name all but a few, manfully, in what remains a disproportionately male-dominated arena, conceding that this is just the way it is for all is to avoid the issue, leaving one susceptible to more profound problems which can, if allowed to fester, compound both cause and consequence, challenging one’s motivation, purpose, and rational sense of accomplishment under difficult circumstances; and however one may attempt to re-package this for personal ease, the most rudimentary diagnosis is that it is a mental health problem.

There are likely more scientific or clinically sophisticated terms for any such denial, but it is broadly understood as ‘bottling-up’, and there need be no place or need for such in a world and workplace which is constantly in quest of greater efficiencies through tactility and a better understanding of human resource needs. It only does good to talk, and there will always be an ear.

We would like to think, at Barnes Logistics, that our business model challenges old-fashioned convention in road transport, that our ‘open door’ policy and efforts towards encouraging a social camaraderie after we have all clocked-off in some way help to mitigate stresses which characterize a typical shift, and that the conditions we offer our professionals make the battle one easier won.

However, it is a salient point that the needs of BLL, and fellow logistics providers, is very much the whim of our customers in broader industry, and until we have all made a concerted effort towards a quantum jump in operations, which as good as puts the potential metaphorical ‘black dog’ to sleep, we must all keep our sights on the incremental improvements in conditions which have a barely noticeable impact on customer needs, and a huge positive impact in maintaining a positive and motivated attitude in a workplace which will always have stresses in some shape or form.

It has taken many years of effort in pursuit of the goal which has seen visible illnesses such as obesity and coronary heart disease, associated with road transport, progressively become the exception to the rule. It’s time we all, afflicted or otherwise, fully opened our eyes and saw the hidden which is everywhere, for the equally damaging malady that it is. Conventional wisdom encourages one to express ailments such as an upset stomach, and understand the cause with no stigma attached – mental health should have no inalienable privilege to the contrary.

Intelligent Design – An Evolution For The Environment

The following paragraphs almost read quite differently to how they currently do, with writes, re-writes, and much editing down in an attempt to try and get over a point which is of much concern to us and, we hope, the broader public. It was few thousand words which, at times and rather uncomfortably, teetered on the edge of that chasm of apocalypse which characterizes the, understandably impassioned but often irrational, debate regarding pollution and the environment which it, without any doubt, is doing great damage to. Then an announcement was made by the Department of Transport, and it changed, entirely, the tone in which this latest blog speaks, with negativity giving way to positivity.

The announcement stated that the UK government intends to bring to an end the sale of new diesel and petrol-powered cars by the year 2040. That is, at present, only ‘the sale’, and specifically ‘new cars’, and comes as the latest in a line of announcements by other governments and of car manufacturers, indicating some strong momentum away from internal combustion. At a first cynical glance, from a UK perspective, this means that the used fossil-fuel car market will take a good decade-or-so to wind down, and there may suddenly be a mushrooming of sales of small vans as people attempt to take advantage of such loopholes. So it is, realistically, quite a long time down the road, and much can happen before then. I mean, to lend the timeline some perspective, a young couple who may have just invested in a smart new car, could, if purchase and re-purchase trends hold, be on their fourth or fifth new car some twenty-three years from now, and on their way to a maternity unit to welcome their latest grandchild into the world.

How does this affect the operations of Barnes Logistics? On the face of it, not a great deal. However, it isn’t some irrational display of clairvoyance to predict that heavy goods vehicles will one day benefit from a massive propulsion re-design, and it got us thinking as to what will our fleet of lorries will look like in the year 2040. It’s just that we’re not planning on going anywhere but forward, up to and beyond that date with destiny for cars, in the future.

Nobody could really say operating a modern fleet of trucks is fun recreation – it’s costly, a headache of regulations, and they are rather attention-seeking when it comes to the strict maintenance regime we observe. A fleet consumes thousands of litres of fuel per day, and operations are replete with any number of factors which can impede or halt progress. However, they are quite an essential tool in industry, supporting people and growth and contributing to prosperity for all. Aye, there’s the rub, and as things stand, it is a real question of ‘To be or not to be?’ if one wishes to retain a presence in the road transport industry. For the present and for the movement on the roads of the size of loads our trucks and those of other operators carry, diesel trucks are the only cost-effective show in town. For the future, however, we at Barnes hasten the advent of economically and environmentally efficient hybrid commercial vehicles. The technology is there, and has been for many, many years. From the once familiar sight of an electric milk-float, right up to some of the largest quarrying trucks, moving 350+ tonnes per-load. It is a question of range and efficiency with regards application, but it will come, and we welcome it.

I think one of the dilemmas for the majority must be that we have, in rather a short space of time, become very conditioned to the internal combustion engine as the pinnacle of transport engineering, and the idea of not having it or of having the choice of ownership taken away is considered a violation against the personal. Yes…it is a marvellous piece of engineering, in its time, in the same way a valve television once was. Like such televisions, the engine as we know it may well, one day, occupy a place in a museum of historical curiosities. I relish the idea of our successors looking upon such an exhibit with amusement, as a token of a time when things were less sophisticated and less advanced; and, like more enlightened thinking about now outdated and less efficient forms of transport of goods and people saw an end to certain other fuel sources’ use, so it will with regards to current modes. To give the understandable environmental concerns all the credit for re-design is to miss a point, as the perpetual enquiry inherent in technological research was always going to render much of what we know and currently use to be obsolete, given a long enough timeline.

Another bit of misdirection which the eventual eradication of diesel and petrol engines lends itself to is a kind of panic thought that we will not recognize the few vehicles we perceive will remain, when oil-burners have gone. Except, just as evolution of an organic species is a slow and long game, the technological evolution of manufactured goods is a rapid one which implements re-design to a consumer block so accustomed to upgrading with every tenth breath, with the majority of re-design being solely in function, and only a slight margin given to appearance. This is intentional, as whilst we demand improved function and application, our eyes are an early warning system, and if something looks too suddenly alien or a threat to what we understand, we’re less likely to readily engage. In the manufacture of vehicles, this has put far more not instantly recognizable hybrid cars on the road in the last decade-or-so than we would believe, and our obsession with the known aesthetic is why these cars of the future have few of the very acute angles and long sweeping arcs which our naive imagination had us drawing as children. Yes…a mid 20th century vehicle looks markedly different to a new vehicle on a forecourt, today. But, given that the engined car is, only about 130 years old, it’s a cosmetic evolution as comparatively slow as us creeping from the primordial swamp, to where we are now.

However the inevitable socio-economic evolution alters truck design, the Barnes Logistics of the future will embrace such changes, as we’re sufficiently pragmatic to understand that all evolutions have one steering principle…efficiency. Like anything evolved, the internal combustion engine is going, and it was on its way out as soon as it was formed, as there are certain engineering design compromises which lend it a certain efficiency, but nowhere near the potential of yet to be exploited sources of energy. As a company, we equally demand new efficiencies, and embrace all mechanisms which encourage such. We just eagerly await technological advances in truck design, as newer and more sustainably efficient trucks will be good…the four charging horses of Barnes Logistics on their bodywork will be better.

Summer Driving – It’s All About Attitude

We’re marching on through July, and we here at Barnes Logistics have been considering the challenges which annually face our transport side as the summer holidays and the heat of the season takes over, in earnest.

One of the issues, if one can call it such, is that the majority of our core clients and their industries are not really in a position to pause production for a period of note, with the ‘butterfly effect’ of the supply chain demanding we, as a key link in that chain, continue in our endeavours of getting the goods to exactly where our clients want them, when they want them; and our team of transport professionals are at the sharp end of making this happen. Of course, being summer, members of our workforce are equally keen to take well-earned leave themselves; and with our transport management team co-ordinating operations to ensure staffing levels are right to keep the industry moving, it is never far from their minds just what the challenges are for our drivers out on the road; and they know it isn’t just sunshine and an unequal tan to one’s right arm. It is a time of year which presents its own peculiar problems and considerations.

Time spent at any of the hotspots on the arterial routes to the UK’s holiday destinations during summer will inform the observer that traffic volume increases immensely, with those for whom the road network is their workplace noticing the seasonal change the most. With increased volume comes increased potential for any number of variable factors to have an acute effect on the progress of the working day, the health of one’s vehicle, and, of paramount importance, the health of one’s self. The potential for accidents to cause misery and delays, and for this to be compounded by a repetition, under stress and frustration, can not be understated. However, if we all pause to dedicate a few moments to consider how we are all simply trying to get somewhere, and how a little preparation of both the vehicle and the self can fundamentally improve progress for all, and there’s a strong possibility we won’t yield to the popular thought that the roads are a hellish cauldron of aggression inside a particularly unpleasant war-zone.

To present a tick-list of checks to one’s vehicle for summer driving wouldn’t actually read much different than likewise for winter. It’s tyres, oil, coolant, screen-wash, lights, bodywork, load etc. Professionals like Barnes drivers know this, and it is one of their first actions at the start of every working day. Hot weather is no bar to the unforeseen happening, and it does make a different set of demands on vehicle and performance; but personal responsibility and vehicle husbandry is the most effective mechanism for minimizing its effect.

Preparing the personal for the added stresses of operating on a vastly more populated road network is a strategy very much aided by attitude. You see, nobody really embarks on a journey with the intention to obstruct or delay others; but it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing so, if one’s own journey is hampered. It needn’t be so, and it is far better to be a part of the solution, as opposed to the problem. So if we consider that every road-user has equal merit and an equal desire to safely reach their destination, and that our journeys are actually no more or less important than those of others, we can possibly share a better level of understanding and co-operation. It’s a common-sense constituent part of professionalism, remaining calm and focussed when much around appears to be combining and conspiring to scupper one’s ship of progress. Equally professional is knowing when a short break can be the tonic to refresh and re-boot the self and one’s calmer approach. Five minutes sat on the other side of the cab, wrapping one’s self around some of the contents of one’s flask, can only have a positive effect.

Progress, productivity, and a better sense of accomplishment can only increase as a result of a re-think of approach, leaving us all to enjoy a glorious summer in a less stressful and far safer environment.