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Mentoring the Next Generation of Professional Drivers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tel: 01706 248795

Email: admin@barneslogistics.co.uk

Twitter: @Barnes_Logistic

Cyclists and Lorries: Prioritising Road Safety over Blame Culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life after the Army: Joining the Logistics Industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Charities that help with mental health:

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

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

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

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

 

Charities that help with homelessness:

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

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

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

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

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

How Have Consumer Habits Changed Logistics?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Brexit: Two Years On, One To Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is Pollution Polluting the HGV Industry’s Image?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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