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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!

Storage Before Brexit: Secure The Future

It may be a topic, and indeed a word, which the majority of the country are sick to death of hearing; but this week Brexit has been grabbing more and more headlines as Theresa May tries hard to push her deal for leaving the European Union through Parliament. With the realities of our country’s future being brought into focus, we look at how businesses across the country can protect themselves against the uncertainty that 2019 will bring.

 

As the deal focuses on the divorce terms and the Northern Irish border – issues which, of course, affect businesses of all industries – but what all business owners and decision makers are lacking, is future trade agreements. Issues regarding who we will trade with, and at what tariff costs, is an issue which we will not see a resolution to in the near future.

 

Therefore, in the meantime, businesses can look to protect themselves by stockpiling goods. When the future of trading is so uncertain, having a surplus of stock is not the nightmare scenario it would usually be under normal circumstances. Making the investment in more goods now before the potential increase in importation charges after Brexit will ensure that businesses carry a known cost in this time of uncertainty.

 

In the past few years, we have invested in the latest warehousing technology, including our own in-house stock management system, in our secure 50,000 sq ft of storage space in Rochdale. Offering bespoke warehousing for all businesses, from technology to clothing to ambient food and beverage, we’re able to accommodate your warehousing needs no matter your stock size or length of storage needed. Less than 10 miles from Manchester, we’re located with easy access to the M62 for a quick connection to the UK’s roads and ports.

 

No matter the size of the business or the industry you trade in, it has never been more prudent to safeguard against the trading uncertainty looming in the near future of our country. If you’d like to learn more about how we can easily, safely and securely store your stock for Brexit, get in touch with our team of experts today.

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.

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 logistics 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?

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.

Beating the Winter Blues

The decorations go up, the glasses get re-filled and the out of office goes on – there’s nothing like a festive break, is there? That is, of course, for those who work office jobs where the whole business can shut down for a week or two and get picked back up again in January. For drivers, the reality can be a little different – whether it’s delivering stock for post-Christmas sales or vital machinery parts for businesses, the world of logistics keeps turning and the roads keep calling, and drivers are often on the road when others are tucked up at home in front of the fire.

 

It is, admittedly, something which can cause drivers to experience some melancholy – which is why, following our previous discussions on mental health and summer driving attitude, we have decided to extend the conversation to a time when many people can often feel at their lowest. A study from the Samaritans in 2014 found that almost half of men felt depressed or sad around Christmas, and with logistics and driving still male-dominated industries (something that we most certainly hope will, and actively work towards, changing), it felt appropriate to look at how those who work in the professional driving sector might be able to help tackle swings of low mood in the run up, and during, the festive period.

 

The first step we would look to take would be one of practicality – countless studies have shown that eating the right foods and treating the body with the respect it deserves has a huge impact on serotonin levels, helping to battle low moods. This doesn’t mean you have to forego the classic Christmas delicacies – the high levels of zinc in walnuts can help in alleviating feelings of anxiety and depression; and sumptuous flavanol-rich dark chocolate helps to regulate mood.

 

Now, we move towards actions which help to engage others – use the time you have, whether it be on or off the road, to bring the merriment to you wherever you are. Make every moment count and ensure time off is filled with activities – drinks at the local with friends, parties hosted with family or, quite simply, sitting down with loved ones to watch a favourite film. There’s no value that can be put on restive quality time. This should not be limited to time away from work – connect with colleagues and other regular road acquaintances and organise some festive fun. Anything as small as organising a round of bacon butties will perk up spirits all round. And the best part of stepping up and leading the charge? You never know how much you might be helping others who are feeling low by reaching out and making that first move.

 

Our final piece of advice begins to move away from the functional and towards the mental – driving over the Christmas period requires a shift in approach and thinking. Embrace the season – avoiding the revelry of December is nearing the impossible, and attempting this will only leave one in misery; so play your family’s favourite festive songs in the cab and take advantage of the opportunity to reflect on one’s blessings. As we speak of reflection, it is worth noting that the increasingly popular act of Mindfulness (the practice of bringing one’s attention to the present moment) may be a useful tool to master – the quiet roads and the beauty of Britain in its wintery glory provide the perfect backdrop to take some time to contemplate and appreciate the state of now. The most important matter to focus on? The visualisation of being back home – after all, as much as we may not be overjoyed working over December, we must focus on the fact that it is all temporary, and soon we will back home in front of the warmth of the fire, with the decorations glittering and our glasses full – Merry Christmas!