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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.

Life after the Army: Joining the Logistics Industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Charities that help with mental health:

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

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

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

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

 

Charities that help with homelessness:

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

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

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

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

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

How Have Consumer Habits Changed Logistics?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Rising Cost of UK Roads vs the Rising Expectation of HGV Drivers

As public and business demand for logistics increases, the nationwide shortage of HGV drivers only becomes more detrimental. As it currently stands, the UK are short of approximately 45,000 drivers – a figure which in a society with a high demand for delivered goods is extremely concerning. Perhaps more concerning still is the lack of efforts being exerted to secure more drivers; it seems that recent industry proposals which supposedly aim to tackle the problems at hand are instead focused on government economic gain rather than real solutions. The monetary gain of which we speak is largely referring to the abundance of new regulations which seemingly aim to lower the worrying levels of emissions yet cause financial strain for those who work within the driving industry. In recent months, the news has emphasised how such financial strains also exist beyond the topic of pollution – articles have detailed how drivers will be fined for working beyond legal hours and how networks such as the M6 toll as well as local councils plan to introduce new HGV charges. Whilst we at Barnes are keen to play an active role in tackling the environmental and social issues that the UK faces, we also wish to highlight the detrimental nature that increasing fines have on an already strained, short-staffed and much-needed industry. The following offers a reflection, drawing on many of our past comments, but considers them in terms of financial impact that new proposals may have by asking, how are the rising costs of UK Roads affecting the rising expectation of HGV drivers?

In July an increase in M6 toll prices was announced. Vehicles can expect to see an increase of approximately 50p; for lorries, this takes prices up to £11.50 during the week and £9.80 at the weekend. The news has attracted criticism from supportive industry bodies like The Road Haulage Association, with the body’s chief executive claiming that the changes make the M6 an unaffordable, unviable route for HGV drivers. The Midland Expressway, however, claim that there is a ‘necessity’ for increases as it will reduce journey times and result in a motorway system that is “great value for money”. They offer further attempts of justification by  adding that ‘pay-as-you-go’ routes are very popular with HGV drivers. The RHA chief, who directly communicate with drivers, presents a contrasting but pivotal point: “Why have the Midlands Expressway decided to increase the rate for HGVs now – at a time when the price of diesel has just risen by another two pence per litre – adding over £800 per vehicle to a trucker’s annual operating costs?”

The news comes after it was announced that haulage companies can now also expect to pay less tax on ‘environmentally friendly’ vehicles, but as we have previously highlighted, it seems that the greater issue at hand is not being addressed; not all can afford to buy an entire new fleet and so are forced to pay more tax.

Additionally, with emissions levels deemed a major issue, hauling bodies are confused as to why such charges are being increased, as they will undoubtedly lead to HGV drivers to use alternative routes to the M6. Such routes are likely to be A and B roads – the very urbanised areas where the government and local councils are attempting to lower pollution levels.

Yet in these very areas, some councils are campaigning to introduce ‘congestion’ charges for HGVs. Dorchester town centre, for example, is keen to implement fines on lorries that travel through the borough without making deliveries, using cameras to track their movements. But as discussed above, it is likely that the M6 toll price hike will cause an increase in town traffic.

In addition to these expected cost increases, there have been a number of other financial hits to the HGV driving industry. Earlier this year, it was announced that on-the-spot-fines would be given to drivers exceeding their tachograph hour restrictions. Having spoken in depth on this issue before, we can only reiterate our previous comments: are drivers only tampering with tachographs to meet strict delivery deadlines? As these issues have continued to develop since our last blog post, we would now like to additionally ask, how can financial punishments be effective when the pressure and expectation on HGV drivers is not easing, particularly with a severe skills shortage to also consider?

It is with great disappointment that we pen our beliefs: eventually, all HGV drivers will be penalised, regardless of route, and yet demand for logistics and deliveries will not falter. With the news of various fines dominating our daily news, we fear that prospective drivers may be deterred from entering the industry, thus worsening the problem at all angles. Thankfully, as an industry, we have a supportive body that campaigns against newly proposed charges, but, as an individual business, we urge the government to address the problems at hand before imposing fines. Realistically, the expectation on drivers is set to increase, therefore it is vital to exert greater efforts into the recruitment and retention of new drivers, whilst also exploring alternative ways to reduce emissions and congestion. If these requests are met, it is possible that the industry can thrive once again.

Let us know your thoughts by dropping us a tweet.

Brexit: Two Years On, One To Go

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

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

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

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

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

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

Digital Driving

It can often be difficult to comprehend the level at which digitalisation infiltrates our daily life; it has become so commonplace that it can be difficult to remember, or for the young amongst us, to imagine a world without electronics, apps or social media. Whilst the transport and warehousing industry is largely built upon electronic and digital foundations, it was inevitable that it would one day follow suit in embracing the rise of digitalisation beyond factory walls. In recent years, vehicles have become increasingly digitalised, with self-park modes, in-car phones and paper tax discs transitioning to an online service only. Our roads have also adapted with smart motorways and lanes that have the capability to charge electric cars as they drive. Now, there are further proposals still; digital driving licenses are being considered, new virtual reality safety apps are being launched and of course, the introduction of autonomous vehicles looms.

The necessity and productivity of each upcoming proposal, in our opinion, varies. Within this piece we shall assess how the sector will be affected by the digitalisations on our horizon, namely the digitalised driving licence, implementation of autonomous vehicles onto British roads and lastly, the launch of the virtual reality app.

Although perhaps only a minor change to the industry, last year saw the first trial of digital driving licenses, allowing motorists to carry their licence with them without having a physical copy to hand. The intention is to offer drivers numerous benefits that do not otherwise exist; from reducing fraud and theft to allowing greater ease in renewing almost-expired licenses. It’s practicality however should be drawn to question with security breaches a potential risk; would drivers be protected in the case of mobile theft? Equally, in the unfortunate event of an accident, will it be more difficult to identify drivers? Here at Barnes, we feel that this concern is particularly pressing; as mobile phones are becoming increasingly reliant on fingerprint technology to unlock the device, if a physical license was not at the scene, would it possible to identify the driver if they were unconscious? To move away from morbidity, we believe that with these points taken into consideration then the digitalised licence could become a useful addition to the digital driving portfolio. This, however, is merely a small-scale change to the world of digitalisation within the driving industry, with one greatly significant change fast approaching; autonomous vehicles.

Ambiguously set to hit our roads ‘later this year’, it seems that driverless vehicles are on the horizon . In countries such as Belgium, tests have already begun, whilst in the US the trials are now a regularity, with some brands advertising public use of their driverless cars. However, following recent reports of a pedestrian death caused by autonomous vehicles, the safety of the autonomous vehicles must be called into question. Although it was the first-known incident of its kind, it was far from the first autonomous vehicle accident; a similar outcome evolved with a Tesla model after it failed to recognise the hazard as it occurred, and so the “the brake was not applied”. It seems that these accidents are becoming a commonality amongst driverless vehicles, and we fear that these accidents would only be accentuated if they were to involve larger vehicles.

The details surrounding the trials and potential launch of autonomous HGVs it seems are less public and are being kept out of the limelight. Yet discussions are underway with officials – this much the public do know. Having spoken in detail about this topic before, we ask once again; are autonomous HGVs really the safest addition to our roads? Here at Barnes, we urge the Government to reconsider their plans; not only would driverless HGVs affect the livelihood of millions of drivers, but as before, we want to reiterate that the skills humans, particularly in cases of sudden, uncontrollable variables, cannot be undermined. For all the positives that come from the digitalisation of various transport systems, we, and others in the industry alike, fear that with driverless vehicles and HGVs, the cons significantly outweigh the pros.

To finish on a positive note, we wanted to reflect on the newly launched app from Highways England that aims to improve driver awareness of blind spots. The smartphone app, used in conjunction with cardboard goggles, aims to accurately recreate a driving environment where the acknowledgement of blind spots are vital, such as, joining a motorway, overtaking and tailgating. Whilst our employees are qualified to the highest standards, we believe that all drivers should have the option of improving their driving skills further and that there is no such thing as too much practice! If you have tried out the app, let us know your thoughts on it using our Twitter feed.

As the digital world continues to evolve, we expect that further changes will be made to the transport industry. Whilst some could be considered pivotal, be this in a positive or negative manner as demonstrated with the new VR app in comparison to driverless vehicles, others are only minor changes. Currently, it seems that most digitalisation movements are simply ‘in discussion’, but, if the safety of all road users are completely considered and used to motivate and shape future necessary additions to the industry, we believe that the transport industry as a whole can benefit.

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.

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!