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The Death of the High Street – What does it mean for Logistics?

The high street has long been a staple of British culture; rows of shops from high-end department stores to family-run businesses have historically formed the hub of local communities and created bustling cities, but today, shops are closing down at an alarming rate as many consumers turn to online shopping. As a result, the high street aesthetic differs dramatically to how it used to, with square metres upon square metres of empty space occupying a shell that used to house popular retailers.

The disparity between today’s high street image and that of ten years ago is so extreme that many experts are predicting it will diminish entirely – the ‘Death of the High Street’, as they call it. Whilst the high street has brought significant business for the logistics industry for many years now, how will the closure of physical shops affect the sector? Some claim that logistics will be unaffected; whilst shops are closing, people are still shopping – just not in store – and therefore mass delivery of goods is still a necessity. Other experts however, fear that the extreme growth in the popularity of online shopping will bring with it an even greater pressure and demand than that already experienced by the logistics industry – whilst driver shortage is the current, prominent worry, warehousing space and turnaround efficiency could also become a concern. So, with this comes the topic of this post and the critical question; how can both traders and logistic companies continue to operate efficientlyand profitably during the death of the high street?

According to ParcelHero, by 2030, half of (approximately 100,000) physical stores will be obsolete. Whether such businesses will disappear completely is an entirely different matter – it is likely that some will exist in the online sphere only, whilst many others may struggle to recover from the financial hit. Experts claim that by 2030, e-commerce sales will account for 40% of all consumer to retailer transactions, although the figures are already high – TextLocal reports that almost 80% of people report having used their mobile phones for online shopping at some point, with over 20% doing so at least once a day.

Whilst this is excellent news as it signals the strength of our developing networks and technologies, for the logistics industry it brings a growing pressure, and not just in terms of delivery. Whilst the driver shortage and uncertain future of EU workers certainly raises concerns – as we have explored before – there is an additional, pressing problem: warehouse space. Researchers from the BBC claim that demands for warehouse space have risen due to the growing popularity of online shopping, with demand doubling over the past ten years. The total purchased/leased warehousing space across the UK now mirrors the dimensions of 3,000 Wembley Stadiums, with 60% being used by retailers. A decade ago, they accounted for just 1/3 of the space. In correlation with this has come rise in warehouse rental prices. So in addition to the sector’s aim to maximise and organise warehouse space to optimise deliveries and cater for the digital changes, for some, financial worries are present, particularly for smaller businesses.

At this point, the path to overcoming these issues is not black and white. Truthfully, it may take a number of years to calculate the perfect formula, and trial and error may become commonplace. Although digital shopping has been around for years now, its popularity has never been greater, and so it will take time to find the right balance that suits each individual logistics operator and their unique demand. In the meantime, there are a number of aspects that need to be prioritised to maximise smooth-running: cost, warehouse location, space, machinery needs, monitoring systems, staff and fleet size. Should all these be considered, it’s entirely possible that current warehousing concerns can be lessened, but as we say, we expect that a key factor amongst these priorities is time and simply exercising various methods until all boxes are ticked.

In many ways, the ‘Death of the High Street’ is a sad mark for British culture. Of course digitalisation has its strengths and its growth is certainly reflective of its usefulness to business; both national and global connectivity is readily available at the touch of a button, expanding potential demographics and offering wider profit opportunities, but as the industry has worked alongside retailers and their stores since shopping became such a prominent feature of our society, it is saddening to see many closing their doors permanently. Here at Barnes, we therefore think it’s important to adopt a positive perspective on this by seeing it as a new ‘era’. The online movement does not alter the necessity of the logistics industry for UK retailers, it just changes the dynamics somewhat, and in a time when the number of drivers is already worrying, it can be frustrating that the sector is faced with an additional concern. But, as with the driver shortage and Brexit, we’re confident that the industry will remain vigilant and resilient in the face of warehousing concerns and that the perfect formula will be found in no time.

If you’re a business in need of warehousing space, we are able to help as we have over 50,000sq feet of secure storage. To find out more about our facilities and to get in touch, click here.

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.

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.

AI: Robots in the Warehouse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

A Look Back on Road Safety Week

Last week was one of the biggest events in the transport calendar: Road Safety Week. Having commenced on the 20th November, the week, ran by the charity Brake, focused on highlighting the dire need to tackle the serious issue of speeding. Despite an increase in the associated fines and the shockingly high statistics surrounding fatal speed-related accidents, many road users persist in breaking the law, but Brake have pinpointed a simple fact in their vital slogan: Speed Down, Save Lives. Reducing the speed at which a vehicle is operating can often make the difference between life and death in the event of a road traffic accident.

Throughout the week, the organisation centred their efforts around emphasising the dangers of speeding on rural roads and built up areas where pedestrians and cyclists are more likely to be at risk. The initiative, which was promoted within schools, organisations and communities, cannot be echoed enough, so here at Barnes, we are seizing the opportunity to push the message out to our fellow road users and members of the freight and transport industry. In this latest discussion we shall consider the importance of speed limits, how speeding affects our roads and how we can all, as responsible road users, resolve the ever-prevalent problem of speeding together.

Speed limits, contrary to what some believe, are here to make our roads safer for everyone. They are proposed based on a number of factors (risk, danger and environment) and account for elements such as housing, schools and road layout. In April, the Government raised speeding fines in a bid to deter drivers from the temptation of breaking the law. Offenders can now expect a minimum of 3 points on their license (for minor offences – the number of points issued correlates to the severity of the speeding offence) and a fine of around 50% of their weekly income, although this can be increased to 150%. These penalties are larger still for new drivers. But, even with such severe consequences for drivers, why is speeding still a major issue?

There are risks associated with all road vehicles; this is to be expected. Newer vehicles, for example, can accelerate more quickly than aged vehicles, whilst older cars are somewhat less reliable. However, driving behaviour is a large associating factor when it comes to speeding. Speeding is choice that drivers make, a selfish one at that. The statistics gathered by Break speak for themselves, speeding is undeniably dangerous:

  • Breaking the speed limit or travelling too fast for conditions is recorded by police at crash scenes as a contributory factor in one in four (23%) fatal crashes in Great Britain.
  • Drivers with one speeding violation annually are twice as likely to crash as those with none.
  • A recent Brake survey found that four in 10 (40%) UK drivers admitted they sometimes drive at 30mph in 20mph zones.

So how can this problem be overcome? Largely it comes with awareness. The saying ‘ignorance is bliss’ can be called upon here – often those who speed are ignorant to the potential dangers have been fortunate enough to not suffer the consequences – yet. Campaigners adopt a variety of awareness methods, from visual scare tactics to demonstrate the extreme realities of speeding accidents, to cognitive approaches that rather than using horrific aesthetics promote a ‘look twice’ method, where the audience have to re-watch the ad to see the underlying message – THINK!’s latest ‘Pink Kitten’ campaign is a fantastic example of this. Brake’s Road Safety Week is a credit to the UK’s highways in the work it conducts to overcome the problem. From social media campaigns to donations, action packs, virtual games and merchandise, the charity exerts every effort possible into truly making a difference, both during the marked week and throughout the rest of the year. Here at Barnes, we believe that they make a significant difference.

As a company who have over 100 drivers on the road each day, safety is absolutely paramount, to both our drivers and other road users. We will continue to promote the road values we hold and encourage all drivers to put safety first in the hope that we can make our roads a safer place. With hard work and determination, we are confident that speeding and the consequences it stimulates can become an issue of the past.

Rochdale Business Awards Success

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

 

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

Rochdale Awards 5

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Black Friday: Impossible Without Logistics

As Black Friday looms and eager shoppers wait with bated breath to get their hands on the latest deals, the world of logistics is gearing up to work harder than ever. The modern American ‘tradition’ of shops tempting in savvy spenders looking for Christmas bargains with their best deals of the year for one day only has crossed the pond to Britain in the last decade, but what affect does it have on our industry?

 

For the shoppers looking to find purchases in stores on Black Friday, strategic planning is needed by managers in order to ensure that they carry the right amount of stock for the suspected demand. There could be few things worse than losing out on both a sale and customer trust by having to inform them that their desired item is out of stock after hours of queueing. So before the bustling chaos of Black Friday has even begun, logistics professionals will be working closely with retail managers months in advance to deliver the additional stock before the doors open to the public.

 

An emerging trend of recent years, to be expected in this digital age, is that more and more people are taking to the internet to buy their bargains during both Black Friday and its virtual sister Cyber Monday. With online shopping comes another added step in the supply chain. Rather than drivers delivering goods to a store’s warehouse, they must now pick up goods and deliver these directly to the end user.

 

In our previous blog, we explored the pitfalls to the realities of same day delivery, with online retail giants such as Amazon having to pull their same day service. But we must remember that, particularly in times of high demand, that even next day delivery capacity is finite. With so many customers expected to be clicking and adding to carts online, it is not within reason to expect each and every customer to be able to receive their goods the next day.

 

Retailers looking to embrace Cyber Monday must set their delivery targets realistically and handle customer expectations: it is far better to give a customer a longer delivery time slot in the first instance than promise a target which either cannot be achieved, or puts an undue level of pressure on the logistics driver.

 

Which leads us onto our next point: even without next day deliveries, the impact which Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping trends have on the professional drivers of the UK is considerable. Drivers will be expected to work hard to keep up with demand, which is where stringent company Health & Safety regulations and rules are most important. As logistics leaders, we at Barnes Logistics ensure that any increased workload from customers does not lead to an impossibly increased workload on our dedicated drivers – it means investing in more team members. Never do our drivers feel as though they have unattainable delivery targets, leading to illegally long hours on the road.

 

This Black Friday and Cyber Monday, never forget the importance of enlisting the help of qualified, experienced supply chain professionals – they could be the difference between success or failure. If you’d like to find out more about how our teams can help you, get in touch today.

Tachograph Tampering

As a growing problem within the industry, we look to explore, investigate and address the current concerns regarding the tampering of tachographs. Having been an integral part of the HGV mechanic structure since 1985 and present in over six million buses, coaches and lorries, a tachograph almost acts as a fellow passenger – although perhaps a little less talkative. The device is able to record and store the speed, distance, motion and rest periods of a vehicle so that companies can ensure that their drivers are working the legal hours only, and not overtime.

Whilst at Barnes we can appreciate that some employees in alternative industries may seek and be allowed to work increased hours, we also understand the necessity that HGV drivers only work the hours that the EU allows – for the benefit and interest of other road users. One must always remember that the road is accessible to all drivers at all times, and that our own driving can directly impact others. In the coming paragraphs, we shall discuss the shocking, recent statistics surrounding tachograph tampering, whilst also considering why drivers may want to manipulate the technology, and what we can do to tackle this issue in order to keep all drivers safe.

In the EU, the rules state that drivers cannot drive more than nine hours a day, although this can be extended to ten hours twice a week, as long as it does not exceed the fifty six weekly limit or the ninety hour two weekly limit. In addition to this, drivers are required to take specific breaks – at least eleven hours every day, with a potential reduction of nine hours three times between any two weekly rest periods. Furthermore, for every four hours and thirty minutes of driving time, drivers must take a break of at least forty five minutes.

With set rules in place protecting both the HGV driver and other road users, some may question what the problem is. The problem lies in that much tachograph tampering is being done in a bid to reduce the recording of road time hours, with vehicle operators driving for much longer than legally acceptable. After a year of roadside checks, during which 23,000 vehicles were stopped, in September of this year, Britain’s main road regulator concluded that over four hundred lorries had crossed the border into the UK with a tampered tachograph. This reports as a 21% increase on the previous year. Whilst these figures are shockingly high, they are estimated to be realistically and significantly higher, with the DVSA approximating that there are another 400 vehicles with manipulated tachographs on the road each day.

Alarmingly still, these manipulations can be easily done by drivers themselves, using basic materials that interfere with the tachograph signals, which results in the technology incorrectly reading that the vehicle is stationary when it is in fact travelling.

Such facts present an additional question; why would drivers tamper with their tachographs, as it surely extends their working day? Leading industry bodies are concerned that drivers main motivations are strict delivery deadlines, and the prospect of finishing their shift earlier through skipping break periods.

Naturally, the issues which encourage tampering need to be addressed immediately, as they pose threats to other road users; consider the dangers of an over-tired driver operating a forty four tonne vehicle. Largely, the first steps to resolving these issues are, in our opinion, to talk to the drivers (including the many who have not tampered with tachographs), in order to discover how they feel about their shifts, the duration and the pressure they feel regarding deadlines. As any logistical and freight company knows, the mental health of their drivers is of paramount importance, and if areas where they are struggling have been identified, they need to be resolved imperatively.

Here at Barnes, our open-door policy has proven effective in allowing our employees to discuss how they feel about the above issues. Our flexible working hours have catered to many driver’s needs; the freedom of unrestricting hours eliminates the risk of drivers tampering with tachographs and provides a sense of appreciation for their lives beyond the working environment. However, there is still a growing problem within the industry, but with the help of every expert within the industry, we are confident that this problem can be tackled head on.