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Why is There No National Logistics Day?

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

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

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

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

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

Encouraging a Female Future

Having just celebrated International Women’s Day this month and following the recent news of the partnership between The Women in Logistics UK group (WiL) and The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), here at Barnes, we felt that it was an appropriate moment to comment on the current gendered state of affairs within the industry. We are, like many other logistic professionals, confident in stating that the industry is male lead – but whilst we are confident on this matter, we are also disheartened by it, and it is in this piece that we hope to not only raise awareness of the gender disproportion but to ask why this disappointing disparity exists.

As the joint venture between The Women in Logistics UK group and The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport was announced, the industry as a whole felt a movement of progression. The partnership, which came into effect on the 1st March, is significant as it allows greater opportunities for women to access support, whilst also allowing them a platform to confidently and safely discuss the issues and challenges that they face in both recruitment and retention. In addition to this, to create an encouraging ambience to the sector, the two bodies hope for it to also be a space to engage, motivate and inspire past, present and future female logistic talents.

Whilst this is a step forward, the road to equality within logistics still stretches ahead, and it is up to us and our industry peers to host conversations that aim to discover how we can continue the journey to a better, and more equal, working environment. In 2013, The Guardian reported that although the transport and logistics sector boasts an employee count of 1.5m, women make up less than a quarter of these numbers. Upon investigation, they offer a plausible proposal as to why; one which we fear may be the reality: poor perceptions.

Despite 2018 being marked as ‘The Year of the Woman’ – a reflection of the progression in the 100 years since women gained the right to vote and a reminder that there is still a way to go – it is thought that many women believe there to be (and have experienced) a glass ceiling within logistics. Whatever gender you may identify as, it is vital to understand and this perspective and the limitations it may pose. On a daily basis, if you deemed the working environment to be overruled by the projection of male stereotype narratives –  “heavy labour is a man’s work” – which lead to suspicions of restrictions in terms of growth, promotions and salaries – why would you enter such an industry?

Jennifer Swain, a logistic and supply chain recruitment expert, offered a thought-provoking piece on LinkedIn, whereby she discussed the reality of female enthusiasm to join the industry in the first instance. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, she had only interviewed three women for logistical positions in seven months; and although this is the experience of a singular company, we suspect that the numbers may not be all that different for other businesses within the industry.

With the key issues identified, the next steps are to tackle them. The WiL and CILT partnership is a fantastic place to start, but we all need to offer the body support by playing our part. To do this, we cannot emphasise the importance of speaking to those affected enough; reach out to your female employees and peers, provide them with a safe space and ask them for an honest conversation on their motivations, challenges, and the ways in which they might feel restricted. Then put these comments into action – address the points raised by continually working together and fighting to improve the working environment for all employees. Once these practices become common place within the logistic and transport industry, the sector will undoubtedly better promote itself – although this is not to say that marketing efforts will not need to be executed in order to reach a greater number of people.

Here at Barnes, we strive for an equal and motivating work space for employees of all genders. As we have commented before, we operate an open-door policy, and we welcome all our colleagues to discuss any matters, regardless of the topic, with us.

If you have any thoughts that you would like to share with us on gender equality within the transport and logistics industry, please get in contact with us via our website or Twitter page.

Pay-Per-Mile: The Best Route to Road Maintenance?

With both emissions and road damage becoming a growing problem, the UK Government is keen to implement measures that can tackle these problems head on. To do so, Parliament has proposed that a mileage and emissions fee is introduced, so that the raised money can fund the repair of road damage caused by HGV vehicles. The Department for Transport, on the other hand, claims that there are currently not any solid plans to introduce the scheme, although it has been confirmed that talks are in place to update the 2014 HGV Levy, which applies to vehicles of 12 tonnes or more. With road upkeep and repair costs of approximately £120 million incurred each year, we consider whether a pay-per mile scheme is the best route to road maintenance, or whether additional or alternative plans should be explored.

In a bid to receive ‘contributions’ towards road upkeep, the HGV levy is effective on all heavy goods vehicles operating on UK roads, with international lorries being required to pay relevant fees prior to entering the country – including Northern Ireland. Currently, costs range from as little as £1.70 daily, to an £830 annual rate, variant on bands. Due to the size and weight of heavy goods vehicles, there is evidence to suggest that the substantial number of vehicles travelling on Britain’s roads each day causes a significant amount of wear. Interestingly, the new scheme proposed calculates costs based not only on the potential road damage, but also on the level of emissions that individual HGVs omit.

However, in light of the recent news which found one in 13 lorries to be cheating emissions, we ask whether introducing a pay-per-mile scheme and changing the current levy should be the first port of call in receiving contributions from motorists. In the research conducted, of the 3,735 lorries assessed, 293 of them were found to be incorrectly publishing levels which were within the legal levels, when in reality, the levels were significantly higher and breached legal restrictions. To provide an equal and fair charging system for all HGV drivers, we believe the Government needs to address a greater problem first: the cheating of emissions. It is imperative to consider that with the new fee proposals in place, motorists and businesses may be further motivated to cheat emissions in an effort to avoid the payments. With this research suggesting that emissions are largely being cheated to keep the vehicle on the road for longer, as high emission levels require the vehicle to be repaired. Pivotal to this point is a concern that affects us all as individual road users: safety. It is crucial that we all maintain a vehicle that operates in accordance with our laws, as it allows for everyone to equally and safely use our roads.

Additionally, the proposal of a pay-per-mile scheme invokes a mild irritation within us as a company and within many other HGV drivers alike due to the boom in online shopping, meaning that the population demands more lorries on the road. The scheme, as discussed above, details how the levy and the potential new scheme would fund road damage caused by the significant number of HGVs on UK roads, however, whilst the number of heavy goods vehicles in operation has increased, so has the demand for HGV services. The demand is no longer excessive during seasonal periods, but rather constant, as there are now expectations from consumers for goods to be delivered next day, or in many instances, on the same day. As the industry attempts to meet the demands of online orders, even with an extreme shortage of drivers, further developments in fees are less than ideal when considering other areas of importance, such as attracting new young drivers to the industry.

So whilst we question the priority of some HGV issues in comparison to others, it is of course important to note why a pay-per-mile scheme is in discussion amongst industry leaders. Whilst international drivers are expected to pay a fee prior to entering the country, there is a critical view that the current system exempts international drivers from contributing to road upkeep. As a company who operates both in the UK and further afield, we at Barnes most strongly believe that all must pay their way. A HGV is a HGV, no matter where its company’s origins – it would seem that an element of fairness should be introduced with new laws, with all paying a rate to contribute to the roads they use.

What are your thoughts on the new proposals? Let us know on Twitter!