Post-Brexit worker shortages and the growing trend for smaller shipments are among the issues facing the logistics industry, according to a leading freight specialist.
Speaking after the recent Transport Logistic trade fair in Munich, Dr Anand Assi, Group international director at Pall-Ex, says that attracting and retaining hauliers could become even more of a challenge once Britain has left the EU:
“Domestic and international transport operations rely on a supply of good quality labour and any shortfall on this already-stretched resource could severely impact the supply chain.
“If restrictions are placed on the free movement of people into the UK, haulage firms could see the pool of potential drivers diminish further, particularly as many are from the east of Europe. This comes at a time when demand for road transport services has never been higher, largely thanks to online retail.”
Dr Assi stressed that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit should be a wake-up call to the industry to step up its recruitment tactics:
“At the moment nobody goes to school wanting to be a driver – it’s not seen as a desirable profession and there’s a perception that there is no progression, but there should be. We need to work out what motivates people and create role models to which people can aspire, showing them that this is a credible career option. The sector as a whole needs wider promotion from further education institutions, businesses and the government.”
"Post-Brexit worker shortages and the growing trend for smaller shipments are among the issues facing the logistics industry."
Another theme to emerge from Transport Logistic was that of reduced-sized shipments –something that Pall-Ex has seen first-hand.
“In our European network, the average shipment size continues to fall from approximately two to three pallets per drop to around one-and-a-half,” Dr Assi explained.
“The trend, driven by the growing business-to-consumer (B2C) market, can be attributed to the fact that goods now spend less time in storage due to cost. Many retailers want smaller and more regular consignments, while customers are willing to pay for premium next-day delivery rather than use an economy service and wait two or three days.
“In some shops, especially those lacking in storage facilities, goods are sold the minute they touch the floor. This boosts cash flow, which then benefits those logistics firms agile enough to meet the demand.”
Looking ahead, Dr Assi said that the internationalisation of freight networks would help to increase overall efficiencies:
“As Pall-Ex continues to launch new networks, the ability to move across a single geographical landmass will become more important than the number of individual territories in which we operate.
“This has already happened with regional trade corridors and I believe it will extend to borders in the coming years. Local hubs will also become increasingly vital in providing regional first and last mile solutions for retailers and other businesses.
“The flourishing B2C market, which is becoming more global than ever, represents a huge opportunity for the likes of Pall-Ex. This is bolstered even more by factors such as reduced order sizes, along with increasing physical produce size and delivery cycles.”