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Tackling Climate Change: Who Foots The Bill?

As a forward-thinking business in the industry, climate change and environmental issues are topics we have discussed at great length – from HGV Levies to emissions statistics. However, it has been noted by more than ourselves that the transport and logistics industry seems to take a disproportionate level of blame and, therefore, expectation for change.

 

Of course, all must work to reduce our carbon footprint, but the world cannot simply expect the logistics industry to foot the bill of climate change – both in terms of finance and convenience – of lowering the sector’s impact on the planet, whilst relying on it with increasing demands.

 

Never has this disparity become more starkly clear than in the results of a recent report from Barclays. The study looked at customers’ willingness to be greener with their retail deliveries.

 

Although respondents indicated that they expect businesses to offer more sustainable options for deliveries to help tackle climate change, they do not wish to share the increased cost associated with this. Customers are more likely to be swayed by businesses which offer green options for their deliveries, however, 62% said that they would not be willing to pay for these, and a large majority of older shoppers would expect the business to fully absorb the cost.

 

The study focuses on a respondent’s relationship with retailers, but the issue is inherently tied with retail business’ logistics providers. Although there are increasing demands from customers to have deliveries which are increasingly quicker and greener, the expectation is that this is not something worth paying for – a clear discrepancy between expectations and responsibilities.

 

The first step has been made with this study – it is important to discover more about consumers’ true feelings on eco-friendly deliveries and payment if plans are to be made to tackle a change in attitude.

 

Reducing the impact we have on our planet is an effort shared by all – where it is everyone’s responsibility, everyone should share the burden of cost. This could be in the form of higher delivery charges to cover the cost of eco-friendly fuels and lorries, or working with consumers to reduce the expectations of same- or next-day deliveries.

 

In time, it is hoped that the choice to be greener will be less costly as technologies advance; but, until then, let us remember that working to save our planet and tackle climate change is a responsibility and cost we all must carry together.

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.

Barnes on: The Importance of Logistics

Can you ever imagine what life would be like without the convenience of next day delivery?  Or perhaps you were hoping an item in your favourite shop was getting restocked so you could buy it during your next trip to your local high street but to no avail?  Imagine that suddenly, multiple people are reporting that their goods have not been delivered on time or supermarkets are not receiving their regular orders.  This is certainly a scenario that may not be out of the ordinary, reflecting a future, where the driver shortage has gone too far and put an obstacle in the smooth-running of the UK’s supply chain.    

It is without a doubt that logistics and professional drivers are the lifeblood for not only the UK supply chain but also the economy.  This was strengthened by a recent statement from the FTA’s Peter Snelling who said that “Over 90% of everything the public eat, drink, wear and build with travels on an HGV at some point in the supply chain.” 

In light of the current difficulties that the industry is facing, specifically the skills gap and the uncertainty presented by Brexit, logistics operators and HGV drivers are still working hard to meet the needs of customers and keeping shops stocked.  The upcoming deadline of Brexit is expected to worsen the situation as restrictions will be put in place, affecting international workers in the UK. 

In the 2019 Logistics Report, it was cited that 15% of HGV driver vacancies are not being filled because of the current skills shortage; which begs the question of how much longer the industry can keep its head above the parapet?  It is imperative that changes are made.  

The industry is facing an ageing workforce with a small number of young entrants, which is partly down to the lack of education on career paths.  It is important now more than ever to change young people’s perceptions and correct any misconceptions.  Statistics from the FTA advise that only 1% of HGV drivers are under the age of 25, with the average age of a driver being 53 years old and the over 50s age group represent 47% of all drivers.  

The FTA has advised the Government to reform the Apprenticeship Levy and replace it with a new Training Levy, leading to more opportunities for vocational training, as well as ensuring the upskilling of the UK’s workforce. 

There can often be expectation for school pupils to access the career paths, what has become over the past decade, the ‘traditional’ way through university.  The importance of professional driving jobs needs to be conveyed as they contribute to the success of the UK’s supply chain.  The Government could certainly use its platform to raise awareness of jobs in the logistics industry.  

Clarity on Brexit is needed, and it is the country’s political and trade uncertainties that has initially affected the number of drivers from the EU working in the UK.  We need to see a change in the industry and great urgency is needed to break out of the ageing workforce to keep the supply chain afloat. 

What do you think can be done?  Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @Barnes_Logistic.

How To Choose a Logistics Company?

When businesses expand start looking for external secure storage solutions, or large established companies begin the search for professional road haulage, there are a deluge of deliberations to take into consideration which all boil down to one question: how to choose a logistics company?

Location

Logistics is all about physical connectivity, so it is only natural that location is a major consideration. A logistics company’s headquarters must be well placed for both intra- and international travel. With close links to the UK’s major road networks, our new headquarters in Rochdale – located just off the M62 – is the ideal location for businesses throughout the UK.

Safety

Just as the ease of getting your stock to customers is an essential consideration, so too is its safety before that journey. The safety of your goods is paramount, which is why we take pride in our own industry-leading standards of warehouse health and safety. We go above and beyond the necessary requirements – in fact, we were praised at our most recent inspection for our high levels of safety and security.

Professionalism

With a huge range of logistics companies out there, true professionalism stands out. You need to be confident that every member of your logistics team – from the office, to the warehouse floor, to the drivers. Professionalism can be boiled down into two main qualities: training and attitude. We ensure our employees are all highly-trained and enjoy being a part of the Barnes team.

You can find out more about our team of professionals, from our Transport Planners to our Human Resources team.

Flexibility

Finally, the nature of logistics must allow an element of flexibility. As specialists in Just In Time logistics, we ensure that strategies are precisely timed for maximum efficiency with goods re-stocked and distributed before they are sold out. However, should an unexpedectly large order come in from your customers, the flexible nature of Barnes Logistics means that our transport managers and drivers will work to create a plan to get the best outcome for your business.

So: how to choose a logistics company? Simple: choose Barnes!

Logistics Automation: Should We Fight the Future?

As the world’s technologies move on at a seemingly exponential pace, no industry is left untouched by modern progression. As machine capabilities increase and offer the same, or even heightened, levels of productivity at a lesser cost, a question of morals and commercial viability presents itself. At what human cost should businesses employ new technologies?

From automated stock retrieval systems to palleting robots, the logistics sector has seen a huge leap in technological advances. Where once, many decades ago, workers would be responsible for all movement of goods, today machines are used to aid the increased demand levels from clients across the globe.

The main argument against logistics automation is similar to that discussed in our previous blog on autonomous lorries – employment. Across all industries, there is the worry that machines will replace humans in the workplace, leading to job losses. We will always need human employees no matter what, but if industries are viewed as ‘machine heavy’, would it damage their reputation and affect recruitment?

However, as noted above, we feel we must stress that an increase in technological advances does not necessitate a whole automated warehouse. We must remember that technology may be progressively intelligent, but it is not sentient and will always need humans to manage them. From inputting data to managing repairs, job roles will evolve with computerisation. Furthermore, robotics may well make increase safety and reduce any workplace accidents.

Finally, responsible business owners cannot turn their back on the benefits automation offers clients – reduced costs are passed on to customers to ensure they receive the best value for their logistics investment; providing the highest quality services for the best price is a vital part of the Barnes Logistics ethos.

In the end, it’s a balancing act logistics business owners must manage. Responsible business owners have a responsibility to their employees, customers and the future of their company. As technology progresses and the face of logistics automation changes once more, leaders in the sector must adjust in a way which is both fair and effective.

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!

Self-Driving Lorries: Could Public Fear Help Our Industry?

Automated, self-driving lorries have been a contentious topic which have grown from rumour to near-reality in recent years. We’ve voiced our concerns about the introduction of semi-autonomous vehicles when the planned ‘platooning’ technique was announced last year – from the decrease in road safety to the threats to employment.

But it seems that it is not just those in the road logistics and professional industries who are troubled by the looming threat of autonomous HGVs: Logistics Manager revealed the results of a survey which found that self-driving lorries were the second most frightening technological advancement, coming closely behind conscious machines.

The fact that self-driving HGVs are only slightly bested in the ‘fear factor’ by, essentially, the concept of robots which can think for themselves outside of human control, is telling.

When delving deeper into the 2,000 respondents’ worries, the reason ‘I don’t trust that they’ll be reliable and as quick to react as a human would’ was a top response, with an incredible 62% sharing this fear. This was a concern raised in our post last year, and the fact that it’s shared by the public only strengthens this.

Interestingly, when probed about their top concern, the respondents also cited that the possibility of machines replacing human workers was worrisome. Given that the study was asking the general public rather than a group of professional logistics workers, it’s understandable that autonomous lorries don’t evoke the same fears of job replacement for our nation’s professional drivers – but the fact that it is still a concern in general shows that we are not happy with the morality of people being replaced by machines.

The less trust the public has in the new technologies behind driverless HGVs, the more barriers the Government will face to implement them on our roads. As well as supporting our dedicated professional drivers, this public fear could also help to boost our industry’s image. The discrepancy between the public’s feelings towards the haulage sector and the reality of their reliance and the high standards of safety has been a topic which we’ve explored previously.

But when forced to think about the impacts of autonomous lorries on our roads, society must reflect on the fact that current drivers are, in fact, an incredibly safe and reliable workforce. Quick reaction times, practical human intelligence and expert training makes our professional drivers the dependable, reliable and indispensable part of the logistics chain.

Let’s hope that the future will bring even more awareness and recognition for our nation’s dedicated professional drivers!

Behind Barnes: Human Resources

As part of our Behind Barnes campaign, we recently caught up with Toni Gilmore, to find out all about her position as an HR Assistant at Barnes Logistics…

  1. What does your role as HR Assistant entail, Toni?

My main duties include making sure all legal documents (such as Drivers Licence etc.) and training is up to date. I also monitor probation reviews, recruitment and organising interviews with managers, as well as Inputting driver hours and reviewing wages reports.  Finally, I look after all holiday and employee allowances.

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

I went to Leeds Metropolitan University and studied Psychology.  When I finished my degree, I found an interest in HR and wanted to pursue a career in it.  My first job was in customer service and admin, and I then became a Shipping and Transport Coordinator within the same company. I saw a job posting advertised by Barnes Logistics and with my background in shipping, admin and my degree in Psychology, I was well experienced for the position.

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

The job can look very different from week to week as it depends on what is happening at different depots. Typically, the beginning of the week is focused on wages – collecting and filing all the information from the previous week from all the depots, for example, driver timesheets and tachograph information. This is logged in our system so we can create a wages report and send out purchase orders to agencies where we’ve used their drivers. In a typical week we would also arrange interviews, liaise with managers regarding any driver training which is due and arrange for that to be completed, enrol new starters onto the HR database and generally keep all the systems up to date.

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

I am a big believer in finding an entry level job in your desired career and working your way up. It also helps to research any professional qualifications specific to your desired role in order to stand out from other applicants.

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