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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.

Beat the Bulge: Fighting the HGV Obesity Crisis

British Summer Time is officially here, promising warmer weather, longer evenings and greener views from the cab seat. Spring also brings more fresh produce into the limelight, with seasonal ingredients making fresh vegetables key players on the plate.

There’s no doubt that life as a HGV driver has its plentiful perks – from the chance to travel the country to the flexible hours – but no career is without its drawbacks, and one would be foolishly naïve to claim any such remark to the contrary.

Over the years, various research and studies have shown that HGV drivers are showing a growing concern for their health in the form of nutrition. The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety’s study of long-haul truck drivers classified 69% of respondents as obese – more than 50% higher than rates among other workers. Even more recently, the RAC found that 41% of lorry drivers reported that a lack of healthy foods on the road was one of their biggest frustrations – far more than company car drivers (21%).

Whilst campaigns could be lobbied to force road side shops and eateries to provide healthy options, for us at Barnes we feel the far quicker and more practical method to start drivers on the road to better health is to take full control of what is eaten by preparing one’s own food – and there’s never a better time of the year to start than now.

Obviously, the main obstacle to work around is the hours of shifts – those in the professional lorry driving industry cannot always eat their three square meals a day at the same convenient times. This is where some effort must be placed into preparation – taking half an hour to prepare all necessary meals ahead of when they are needed, so that they can be taken on the road as and when.

For breakfast inspiration, overnight oats are a perfect choice – filled with calcium, slow release energy, fibre and vitamins. A key staple of the modern lifestyle blogger’s ammunition (though this should be no reason to be put off!), overnight oats involve soaking porridge oats in milk (ensure it is skimmed) for at least 5 hours (or overnight) in the fridge. This is your base, and you can add any toppings you wish – berries, bananas, seeds, nuts, honey, spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg – you name it, it can be completely personalised to your tastes. The logistics of transporting (pardon the pun) and eating your overnight oats are key – and investing in a large amount of differently shaped Tupperware and a cool bag is vital to cleanly and easily storing your meals.

As far as lunches go, there is nothing better than a salad. At this point, many will be put off as images of limp, bitter leaves swirls in their mind – but this really does not have to be the case. Using your favourite lettuce, tomato and cucumber as merely a base (try to get fresh, in season and local for maximum flavour), from here you can re-create your favourite meals without the stodge, fat and extra calories, but instead work on hitting your 5-a-day with a range of different colours, vitamins and minerals.

Love Mexican food? Take your spicy chicken breast, onion and pepper mix as a topping and add sweetcorn, black beans and jalapeños. For those looking for refreshing Mediterranean flavours, try a Greek salad with flavoured olives, feta cheese and red onion, topped with a dressing of lemon, olive oil, garlic purée and oregano (store your dressing in a separate small Tupperware box and add just before eating it to prevent your meal from turning soggy), accompany with some shop-bought tzatziki and wholemeal pitta bread. There is no point in preparing a salad knowing that you are less than enthusiastic about it, as you will end up giving in to cravings if you’re not satisfied – you must work with the ingredients and flavours you know you love.

For those who cannot be converted to salads, never fear, there are plenty of other options. Instead of buying a sandwich on the road, make your own so that you can control the amount of butter or mayonnaise, or swap thick sliced white bread for a wrap or pitta. Homemade soups are ideal for a hot meal hit and can be easily be transported in a flask – try classic cream of tomato, carrot and lentil or minestrone, ideal for upping vegetable and protein intake whilst promoting the feeling of fullness for longer.

The key to healthier eating is, as it always has been, balance. Preparing each and every healthy meal ahead of driving may be stretch, so instead focus on smaller changes. Enjoy a hot meal from a roadside café if you have eaten a healthy, lower calorie breakfast; or if a bacon sandwich is your favourite way to start a morning, aim on reducing the number of days you indulge or only treat yourself if you know you will be eating your homemade, healthy meal later on – it’s all about balancing it for you.

We’re hoping these recipes and lifestyle preparation tips will encourage more HGV drivers to make that first step towards a healthier lifestyle and reduce the startling figures quoted at the beginning of this post – if you’ve tried your hand at these, or perhaps have your own creations, we’d love to hear about them on our Twitter page or in the comments below.

Cab-e-oke: The Benefits of Listening to Music

In recent months, we have discussed in length the pressures that many in the HGV driving industry face. Like many other lines of employment, there are increasing expectations for drivers to meet deadlines, reach targets and work long hours, all with the added challenge of uncontrollable variables acting against them: traffic, road works, delays. Whilst we continue to investigate and propose solutions to such issues, here at Barnes, this month we have been reflecting on the more personal, everyday mental health needs of many drivers and how something as seemingly simple as listening to music can help.

Like most drivers, HGV operators regularly enjoy the company of music during the course of their journey. Following discussions with our teams, we found their beliefs on the benefits of listening to music whilst driving reflect that of research; in short: it lifts mood and improves mental health. An extension to our previous comments on mental health – in December, we explored ways in which to overcome the ‘winter blues’ after discovering the shocking statistics surrounding depression and sadness in men at Christmas time – we find it imperative to reiterate that mental health issues can be present throughout the entire year, whilst also reinforcing a key fact: mental health is not untreatable, and there are many methods that experts advise individuals to try in an effort to aid their recovery. We hope that the following not only promotes the benefits of consuming music, but that it also reduces the ‘taboo’ of speaking out about mental health.

Firstly, it is imperative to support the above views with scientific evidence. MIND, the mental health charity, reported a study which concluded that listening to music encourages the release of dopamines in individuals, otherwise known as the ‘feel-good hormone’, finding a 9% increase in dopamine levels whilst listening to music. Additionally, experts encourage individuals to reveal the inner singer from within them, as singing loudly requires greater energy, which generates a greater mental release, slower breathing, and increased muscular activity, which in turn, reduces stress and encourages relaxation.

It should be noted that whilst we encourage all motorists to enjoy the health benefits of listening to music whilst driving, we actively discourage using phones, iPods and auxiliary cords whilst driving to change and search for music. Therefore, in a bid to remain safe on our roads, we strongly recommend that all motorists craft driving playlists prior to beginning journeys. By preparing a playlist pre-journey, the benefits can still be enjoyed, and individual responsibility to maximise road safety is also achieved.

Finally, whilst we by no means assert that music is a permanent cure for mental health issues, we appreciate the positive effects that individuals have experienced. We are optimistic that our drivers and fellow road users will find the above information useful, and may also reap the benefits. At Barnes, we are keen to remain active in supporting conversations surrounding mental health and the support available, and we hope that other industry professionals will also continue to champion this cause.

Do you have a playlist recommendation for ideal on-the-road listening? Let us know what your cab-e-oke playlist looks like by sending us a tweet!

AI: Robots in the Warehouse

 

As the technological world continues to progress in leaps and bounds, there’s no doubt that all sectors and industries have felt the presence of modern automation affecting and shaping the workplace year on year. Arguably one of the most advanced but controversial technologies is Artificial Intelligence – but what price must we pay for this progress?

So what exactly is AI? When asked, many minds spring to the thought of human-like machines with the capacity for human intelligence and logic, but governed ultimately by human restrictions. This, in essence, is AI – but we’re not talking about human-shaped robots here! Artificial Intelligence is a mechanical system created by humans built with certain rules which allow them to perform tasks which normally require human intellect – such as visual perception and decision making through data-driven learning experience. The popular ‘Siri’ feature on iPhones is an excellent example – an intelligent application which interprets and processes spoken language requests.

The next question is how AI can be applied to the logistics industry. Put simply, AI can work in the supply chain sector by becoming a predictor. By analysing data and looking at past patterns and a variety of intelligence-lead processes, the technology can forecast load and demand to highlight the most efficient route in the supply chain for the future. Whether this is looking at stock levels, health and safety investments or warehouse security, the more data that is fed into the self-learning system, the more accurate the predictions will be – meaning that an investment into AI will only become more and more worthwhile as time goes on.

We have already seen the beginnings of the application of AI in our industry with the date set for the trialling of self-driving HGVs. With smart technology that allows trucks to ‘platoon’ one behind the other but brake suddenly in the event of an incident, trained technology allows these vehicles to run their route without the aid of human drivers. Of course, as we have discussed in our previous blogs, such technology is not perfect – the rules of the road are complex, and human intuition is unmatched in preventing (as opposed to responding to) accidents.

Therefore, here at Barnes we cannot help but wonder if there may be some pitfalls to the promises of using AI in the warehouse. The most glaring issues manifest themselves quite simply into two categories: finances and the workforce. Firstly, although AI does promise to bring rewards in the form of increased profits, there is no denying that the technology is a hefty investment. AI specialists must analyse your business to integrate and implement the highly specialist systems – this is not something which comes cheaply. Secondly, we believe when discussing and taking advantage of advancing technology, business leaders must always think of the human impact. Yes, success comes with a flourishing business and growing top lines – but with success comes responsibility. We pride ourselves on providing excellent employment opportunities in the local area, and if any form of AI threatened to make human workers redundant, it should not be a decision made lightly – no matter the potential savings.

In sum, there is no denying that technology must be embraced by logistics businesses in order to move forward and provide the best levels of efficiency and, in turn, customer service. But we must always remember that our roles are more than looking at profit margins – when integrating new technologies, we must ensure that we see the lowest impact on our human workforce as possible. What do you think? If you’d like to share your thoughts on the subject of AI in the warehouse, head over to our Twitter or LinkedIn page and join the debate.

The Value of Knowing Your Customers

January the 18th was ‘Get To Know Your Customers Day’ – although we’re not one for jumping on the bandwagon of each and every suspiciously sales-motivated national day created, we couldn’t help but reflect on the benefits that lie in a day which actively promotes the value of truly understanding one’s customer base.

The advantages of taking the time to get to know your customers that little bit better should never be undervalued. One cannot truly deliver the personalised service which all business owners and managers should strive for if customers are merely numbers on a sheet: learning more about customer and clients’ businesses themselves will ensure that you are always the go-to-expert for specialised services.

Getting to know your customers better means that both parties benefit – when you know what your customers expect, it makes the delivery of strategy so much easier. This leads to greater productivity in the workplace, meaning your business benefits and employee morale is raised as projects are completed efficiently.

On the subject of workforces, encouraging the development of professional relationships between employees and customers may lead to organic improvement of performance. If employees really know their customers and share a friendly, respectful relationship with customers who they view as more than just email addresses or anonymous voices at the end of the phone, they are far more likely to go that extra mile and go above and beyond for them, which can only serve to improve business activity in the future.

But how can we reach out and get to know our customers better, whilst maintaining the utmost professionalism? If, like us here at Barnes, you work in the logistics industry, it’s not as simple as asking a customer about their day at the checkout or a chat over a coffee. For the majority in our profession, many of our clients are based across the country and the world.

If you already have strong relationships with your customers and want to build on them even further, consider inviting them to any in-house celebrations you may have planned. This could be a yearly motivational party to thank the hard work of your team, a re-brand event, or a special anniversary celebration for your company – any events which encourage professional relationships to flourish provide the ideal environment for customers to get to know you, your business and your employees better in a relaxed environment.

No events planned? No problem – there are plenty of other ways to get to know your customers better. Try to set up at least one meeting a year with your top customers, just to talk through the account and what’s on the cards for the upcoming months. It may seem a pain to take what could be a day to travel and meet your clients, the value of sitting down face to face not only helps to strengthen the relationship, but also helps you, as a business manager, to clarify upcoming plans. If this can’t be done face to face due to time constraints or distance, why not try setting up a video conference?

Finally, we understand that with all the best intentions of getting to know your customers, some clients may not have the time even for a video call! In which case, we would wholeheartedly recommend utilising the power of online surveys. Send a quick email in advance to let your customers know to expect a survey from you and how little of their time you’ll need, and you can create as simple or complex a survey as you need, and email it out to your clients (Survey Monkey are highly recommended). You can find out, anonymously or otherwise, how your customers feel about service, quality, prices, where you can improve and what you excel at.

We’ll be reflecting on the messages and benefits of ‘Get To Know Your Customers Day’ for far longer than a simple 24  hours, and we hope you’ll join us in extending their value throughout 2018.

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.

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!

Rochdale Business Awards Success

Earlier this year, we entered Barnes Logistics into the annual Rochdale Business Awards after our first successful year at our new headquarters.

 

Established in 2011 to celebrate the achievements of businesses and business people within Rochdale Borough, we entered the ‘Business of the Year’ category, for businesses with a turnover of more than £5 million.

Rochdale Awards 5

The judging panel were looking to see how a business had performed over the past year in terms of turnover, team expansions and growth opportunities. In the past year we are proud of our incredible business expansion – increasing our fleet and team lead to needing to move to larger headquarters; and later in the year we grew the business even further by acquiring the haulage company GA Newsome. This business growth meant that we could create further jobs in Rochdale, and the opportunity to bring our top quality professional logistics services to even more time critical businesses.

 

We also outlined the highest standards to which each and every Barnes employee is trained – every driver is CPC qualified and then internally assessed, and graduates are closely mentored to develop to supervisory and managerial positions.

 

Finally, the judges were looking to see what businesses did to give back to their community – and we are proud of our commitment to supporting Springhill Hospice this year. Not only this, but our MD Chris Barnes also sponsors a number of sporting institutions across the North West.

 

The event was held at the magnificent Rochdale Town Hall, where our team met and mingled with other like-minded business professional in the glitz and glamour of a black-tie event. We were delighted to be announced as winners for the Business of the Year, in the highest turnover category. After the awards ceremony, we continued to the after party for a well-deserved celebratory drink!

If you’d like to know more about how our award-winning company could help your business for all of your logistics needs, don’t hesitate to contact our team today.

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.