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Smart Tachographs and Logistics Investment

The DVSA have recently announced that they will not be investing in the technologies to read data from new smart tachographs. Following recent EU legislation which lead to the mandatory move from digital to smart tachographs in new commercial vehicles this summer, the agency stated that the cost of these new technologies are too high to justify the benefits.

 

So, how do these new smart technologies differ? Data from smart tachographs will be able to be read remotely and in real time, rather than vehicles having to be pulled over and stopped for this data to be read by enforcement agencies.

 

The idea behind these new tachographs would seem to benefit all parties – enforcement agencies will save a significant amount of time with all the necessary data at their fingertips, professional drivers’ schedules will not be disrupted and, most importantly, increases compliance, ensuring the safety of HGV drivers and other road users.

 

It can be understood why the DVSA has made this decision – with only new vehicles fitted with smart tachographs, they must still invest in manpower to maintain the physical checks necessary for current vehicles’ digital tachographs. This decision will have been further influenced by the fact that the same regulations which mean new vehicles must be fitted with smart tachographs only require that agencies employ full use of monitoring technologies in 2034 – 15 years away.

 

But where does this leave the logistics industry? And what does this say about the investments made to improve our sector?

 

It shows an inconsistency within policies. The latest technologies are being pushed on industry professionals – but, despite this, drivers are still being held to old rules by other parties, meaning that we cannot fully reap the benefits.

 

Surely, as an industry, embracing new technologies should be encouraged and made as easy and attractive as possible. Legislations which enforce new technologies which cannot be monitored by the appropriate enforcement parties can leave the industry feeling flat – as if the new advances in safety and efficiency are not taken as seriously as they should.

 

Should all bodies not be working together and moving at the same pace? The RHA certainly seems to think so – they have recently expressed their disappointment, with Tom Cotton, head of licensing and infrastructure at the RHA, stating: “Our members have invested in this technology to become compliant with these new regulations, so why is DVSA not prepared to show the same commitment?”

 

Surely, rather than holding off until more lorries are fitted in the future, a middle ground should be met which proportionately matches the use of new smart technologies and can be increased as more vehicles are equipped with them?

 

What are your thoughts on this latest decision? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting us.

The Value of Fleet Investment

Logistics businesses depend on their fleet – it’s at the very heart of their success. But unlike non-commercial vehicles, business fleets go through more wear and tear in a shorter amount of time. As a company’s fleet brings in vital revenue, it is imperative that capital is re-invested back into these vehicles.

Why? Our commercial vehicles must constantly be upgraded; but this investment needn’t be viewed as a necessary but tiresome expense – it also results in improved efficiency and greater reliability.

With drivers undertaking frequent shifts, investing in quality vehicles is imperative. Up-to-date vehicles have the latest technology, which increases the safety of the drivers and other road-users as well as the efficiency of the fleet, ultimately escalating profits. Upgrading means investing in the latest safety equipment like rear view cameras, hands-free smartphone connections, and up-to-date tachographs. Modern satellite navigation systems also drastically decrease delivery time by helping drivers navigate road closures and traffic build-ups, among other things. Furthermore, these new fleet improvemennts boost employee satisfaction and serve as a great promotion for a company’s products or services.

Reductions in maintenance costs are another benefit of the investment in fleet vehicles; as they are used every day they require regular maintenance. Fleet upgrades reduce a company’s maintenance costs and extend the vehicles life span as well as make sure the vehicle is safe to drive. Costly maintenance repairs can also negatively affect the delivery time of a load, negatively reflecting on the company’s overall reputation.

Another means to improving the value of a fleet is investment into good quality, professional drivers. Ensuring the hiring of properly trained, qualified drivers with experience is an absolute must. Laws and legislations regularly change with driving laws, and so ensuring one has competent drivers means that businesses are always above board and in accordance with the law.

Investment into the sustainability of HGVs is a big topic at the moment, with the current climate situation and the newly imposed government targets for the reduction of emissions, the eradication of fossil fuelled vehicles doesn’t seem too farfetched. Additionally, the rising number of natural gas fuelling stations in the UK is an indication that business owners are looking to invest in environmentally friendly transport vehicles. Although the technology is still in its developing stages, it’s always worth keeping an eye on and investing in the future before laws change and businesses are penalised heavily for burying their heads in the sand and continuing to run fossil fuelled HGVs.

As stated, business owners can only invest when these new eco-technologies are advanced enough to be commercially viable, and many vehicles are still reliant on fossil fuels. However, companies can still choose to improve their fleet’s fuel efficiency. Commercial fleets can create huge fuel costs and, for some companies, these costs are as big as their payroll. The automotive industry is investing their efforts into decreasing the overall consumption of fuel across the board and improving fuel efficiency in the logistics sector would be a huge step in the right direction.

Overall, the value of fleet investment is of vital importance to safeguard a business for the furture, and it’s a process we consisitently undertake at Barnes to ensure we provide the safest, most reliable logistics services for our customers. Explore how we can help you with our logistics services.

Behind Barnes: Transport Manager

Keeping things running smoothly at Barnes Logistics is a challenging but a thoroughly rewarding task for our Midlands Transport Manager, Laurence Gray. We recently caught up with Laurence about his roles, career journey and his recommendations for others looking to join the industry…

       1.       What does your role as Midlands Transport Manager entail?

My main responsibility as Transport Manager is to keep the Midlands sites running efficiently and effectively.  This means keeping the fleet operational and legal whilst also making sure that we have the right number of professional drivers on the road to carry out the work required. Anticipating potential issues and creating solutions for them is also a vital responsibility. Finally, my role entails dealing with queries from customers and on behalf of our drivers too. 

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

Before I discovered my role in Logistics, I worked in a number of industries which included procurement and sales. Over time, I worked my way up in a different company which saw me moving from transport planner to shift manager. Whilst working there, the Midlands Transport Manager opportunity arose at Barnes and I thought this was the perfect career opportunity for me. After attending an interview with Barnes, it really opened my eyes to what I could achieve! It was fantastic that I got the green light for the job. 

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

At Barnes, my week varies depending on what is required from me. Ensuring that everything is running efficiently and to the best possible standards is really important and from here, I can look ahead at further improvements. At the beginning of the week, I work on financial reportings and oversee compliance tasks. Once this is done, I attend a site visit in Redditch to check that things are operating as they should. Typically, throughout the week I will be involved in the arranging and interviewing of candidates and conducting driver inductions. Monitoring the service schedule frequently to ensure targets are achieved on time and working on probations reviews are also essential tasks. My job role can extend away from the office as sometimes I will be required in the yard where I will usually find myself inspecting tyres which have low tread to see if they need replacing. As Midlands Transport Manager however, I would say that that the most important role is speaking to the drivers to check that things are going as they should and speaking with our customers to ensure that Barnes are providing a five-star service. 

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

I would say that within the Logistics sector, there are always opportunities available. It is a vast and dynamic industry offering plenty of varied jobs. Therefore, even if one role might not suit you, there are still plenty of different positions which could be more suitable for your skill set so I think it’s important that you don’t give up on the industry if things get tough. It is also worth considering that Logistics is an industry which is staying put and is ever-expanding as companies will always require items moving safely and securely from one location to another. There will always be the need to supply and deliver goods across the UK and the globe!

Behind Barnes: Transport Planner

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

 

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

 

What does your role as Transport Planner entail, Joe?

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

 

What does a typical day look like for you?

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

 

Can you tell us about your career journey?

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

The Year Ahead – What Can We Expect?

2018 is drawing to a close, and the year ahead is set to be an historic one for Britain as the country faces one of the biggest political shifts in decades. But what can the logistics and warehousing industry expect in the next year?

 

Whilst we, of course, cannot say for sure what will happen in the near future; there are certain events which we can predict will affect our industry significantly.

 

Of course, the main political event will come in March as we officially leave the European Union. The issue of the Irish border is one which is still not settled – so let us imagine both scenarios. The Irish backstop plan which, at this moment in time, seems the most likely, will see a ‘soft’ Brexit, but if an agreement cannot be reached we may head towards a hard Brexit which means that any trade with Europe will involve longer delivery times as drivers’ goods are stopped and checked at customs.

 

As we will not be bound by the same standards agreements, goods must be checked on borders to ensure that they are up to EU standards. Some have voiced concerns that the increased stop time as lorries wait to have their goods inspected will lead to an increase in illegal migrants boarding HGVs to enter the UK illegally, particularly as immigration laws will change as EU members will no longer be allowed to move freely to Britain as they once could.

 

Our final Brexit prediction is that of uncertainty. Such a huge political shift will lead to economic changes – and whilst few can say whether this will be for better or worse in both the short and long term, the value of the pound will be unpredictable. This means businesses will need to have invested in surplus stock before March – a subject we have spoken about previously with our safe and secure warehousing space available to store these excess goods as businesses ride out the turbulent times ahead.

 

The drivers’ shortage, a European-wide issue, may well be exacerbated in 2019. Workers may feel less inclined to move to the UK and fill vital positions; so, we can predict an industry-wide awareness and recruitment campaigns. Hopefully this will be backed and supported by the Government, with funding for training, education and apprenticeships.

 

Of course, it’s not all negativity in the future. Despite the changes that we’re going to face in 2019, the logistics and warehousing industry will remain a vital cog to UK industry and economics. Businesses must still trade, and we will be there to support them with first class Just In Time logistics services and secure storage – see you in 2019!

Rest Stops and Tired Driving

Drivers are regularly advised not to drive tired; motorways light up with overhead signs, road safety charities campaign against fatigued driving, and the DVLA has a page dedicated to informing the relevant authorities on medical conditions that may cause tiredness. Naturally, when it comes to the professional driving industry, the laws are stricter still, with drivers not permitted to work for more than 4.5 hours without taking a minimum 45 minute break. These laws can be appreciated for the safety they offer both HGV drivers and others on the road, however, in reality, these laws are continually compromised due to the lack of dedicated spaces for lorries to park during rest periods.

 

Not only are professional drivers legally required to take these breaks, but all too often we hear reports of drivers not taking them or of parking in residential areas, but we must question why this may be. Whilst we acknowledge that some drivers may work through their breaks or park inconveniently simply to meet targets quicker – this is an issue in itself – it should also be brought to light that it is also entirely probable that a lack of breaks can be the result of a decreasing number of much-needed amenities.

 

In this digital age, the movement of goods across the EU has grown rapidly, and so long hours are inevitable with the profession. To guarantee the safe arrival of commodities across borders, laws must be abided by, including those of rest periods. A driver who is well-rested is more likely to be able complete their job and continue the functioning of the supply chain system than one who is fatigued. However, without the required rest, risk is imminent.

 

When considering this issue, it is important to begin with a more general perspective; all employees, regardless of their occupation or workplace environment, expect access to clean WCs and hygienic spaces to take lunch breaks. For most, these facilities do not have to be campaigned for – they are a given. Yet when it comes to professional drivers, the case is different; despite their integral role to the UK economy, such facilities are not guaranteed. Of course, it would be unreasonable to expect these facilities fitted within each individual vehicle, however, all drivers are hypothetically always within easy reach of ‘rest periods’ – safe places to park overnight, eat and wash.

 

Despite their need, HGV rest stops have always been few and far between, but over recent years, roadside cafés and other rest stops have been closing at an alarming rate, leaving drivers minimal options when it comes to parking up. Similarly, this reduces the amount of dedicated parking areas for truck drivers and when the number of trucks on the roads are increasing (considering the growing amount of goods transported everyday), parking opportunities become more limited still.

 

It seems that, as a result, many drivers have been taking to parking in spaces which some deem unacceptable and inconvenient. All too often, the media transcribes local villager’s frustrations regarding HGV traffic and parking. In Yorkshire alone, residents are reporting to councils that there is ‘clear evidence’ of HGVs damaging roads and verges, drivers participating in antisocial behaviour by littering and creating noise pollution. In this particular case, the article claims that the vehicles in question are, “foreign registered vehicles that choose not to use or have no financial means of using dedicated lorry facilities”. However, the issue would still exist regardless: there are few – if any at all – rest stops in the area, and those that are available do not have enough space to cater for all who need to use them. It therefore seems unsurprising that in such situations, drivers have little choice but to stop in laybys or similar areas – and with an estimated 20% of all road accidents caused by fatigue, it is imperative that they rest somewhere.

 

How can this issue be resolved? Increased funding to develop parking facilities along with amenities which allow drivers to wash and take food breaks is the most obvious option. And with this need for funding comes an equally important need to educate the wider public on the lack of amenities available to drivers; as we have highlighted before, the professional driving and logistics industry are an imperative part of the British economy, but like other occupations, they need to take regular breaks.

 

Drivers, let us know your thoughts on the matter by dropping us a tweet, and if you’re on the road soon and need a rest stop, find your nearest one here.

Shifting it up a Gear: Learner Drivers Take to the Motorway

Statistically, motorways are the safest of UK roads. One could not be judged however, for thinking otherwise – with their high speed, multiple lanes and various exits, they appear more complicated than standard A and B roads. Yet despite this, research has found motorway safety levels to be quite contrary to their aesthetic complexity – Aviva reported that accidents are actually seven times more likely to occur on rural roads than motorways – a figure that is somewhat surprising given the perceived dangers of the motorway.

 

The image of ‘danger’ that surrounds motorway driving could be seen to not only stem from repeated scare stories that have become a common place within our daily media consumption, but also from the demonization of such roads during our learning years. As a learner – the only driver exempt from using the motorway – the thought of using the motorway after qualifying without guidance can be intensely daunting, in fact, it is reported that one in twelve drivers will actively avoid using the motorway for at least six months after qualification. Given that it would do well for such roads to remain the safest to travel on, it seems absurd that until now, learners have been refused the opportunity to extend their experience portfolio to motorways. Until the beginning of June, it was legal for a driver to travel on the motorway having never done so before passing their test, and without guidance. It’s not hard to see how this could lead to dangerous road conditions with new drivers suddenly faced with a more complicated lane system on their own, further emphasised by the fact that these roads previously being ‘off limits’ can lead to nervous drivers behind the wheel – the thought process of ‘these roads must be difficult, because I was not previously allowed on them.’

 

Now however, the laws have been changed to address this. Since the 4th June 2018, learners have been permitted to use UK motorways under the guidance of an approved instructor and in a dual controlled car. Whilst these lessons are not compulsory, it is a significant step forward in bettering the experience of drivers prior to passing their test, and in our professional opinion, it can only help to make motorways safer still.

 

Whilst this is our opinion, it would seem that the general driving population is divided – with only 44% believing that learners should be allowed on the motorway without a full license. 42% supported the new laws, whilst the remaining 14% expressed a frustration in potentially being ‘stuck’ behind a learner who did not reach the speed limit. Although a total of 56% expressing the potential negative effects of the legislation, further research found that 70% wish the law had been changed sooner, as they would have benefited from lessons before they qualified.

 

Here at Barnes, we appreciate that there may be some safety concerns surrounding these new changes for those already qualified, however, as transport professionals in the midst of a skills shortage crisis, we welcome the new legislation and will be respectful of any learners that we may see on the motorway, as it is these drivers who may become the next generation of much-needed HGV operators. We strongly believe that if we can encourage young people to practice using the motorway whilst learning, the misconception that they must be too difficult to attempt will disappear, and improve safety levels on the UK’s roads will improve. And with this, it is entirely possible that such learners may come to enjoy motorway driving and pursue it as a career!

 

Let us know your thoughts on the new legislation by dropping us a tweet.

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.