FTA calls for urgent action as UK faces worsening driver and logistics staff shortage
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Logistics operators have unveiled multiple initiatives in recent weeks, aiming to ease capacity constraints in the supply chain, particularly in Europe’s beleaguered haulage sector.
Yesterday saw DHL Freight and Geodis announce their latest offerings: the former launching a driver recruitment programme; while Geodis announced a booking platform.
DHL Freight’s recruitment drive will initially focus on European operations, and there is already a pilot scheme in branches in Erfurt, Koblenz, Maintal, Malsfeld and Sehlem.
Chief executive Uwe Brinks said: “Our industry’s currently being driven by an ever-increasing demand for transport, not least because of the continued strong growth in e-commerce.
“While we have sufficient loading capacity, we are noticing an increasingly urgent shortage of drivers. We have now adopted a far-sighted approach to addressing this with our driver recruitment initiative.”
The pilot programme employs new recruits in a “rotating deployment” capacity, where they will serve as drivers in peak periods and work in warehouses during quieter moments.
It comes as part of a twin-pronged initiative to add capacity to DHL’s haulage operations, with the company also ordering new trucks with a load capacity of 12 tonnes.
“At peak times, such as before Christmas, we record particularly high volumes of items,” said Mr Brinks. “The aim of the initiative is to expand our human resources and physical capacity to efficiently absorb these volume increases.”
The company said 30 new jobs had been created at each of the branches in the pilot programme and that if the initiative proved successful, a further 500 employees would be taken on across Europe.
However, with Freight Transport Association (FTA) figures indicating that the UK alone has a driver shortage of 45,000, more work is required by industry and government alike.
Geodis’s new initiative, Upply, hopes to tackle the issue of tight capacity in European haulage from a different angle.
Upply’s chief executive, Boris Pernet, said part of the capacity problem was linked to inefficiencies within the supply chain.
“We are seeing that anywhere between 10% and 20% of trucks are operating with empty space,” he said. “And yet we are being told the cause of the problem lies in the fact that the industry is leaking drivers.”
Upply is an online benchmarking tool for air, road and sea rates based on tradelanes. By providing real-time data across 100,000 lanes on rates and capacity, it allows both hauliers and shippers to better utilise the capacity on the market.
“Constraints are undeniably high, yet I believe the problem is being exacerbated by the way the market is reacting to this,” said Mr Pernet. “Upply can help address this by showing where this unused capacity is and allowing shippers to make bookings.”
Responding to a Loadstar post on the continent-wide driver shortage, one driver suggested hauliers seeking more drivers should address their pay scales.
“I am a driver looking for a job, why are the rates of pay so low? If anybody wants to pay sensible rates I am interested.”
Mr Pernet admitted that low pay may be partly to blame for the lack of driver availability, but, he added: “If drivers are not being paid enough, Upply can help, as bringing all the lanes under one platform will provide visibility.
“Costs will increase as and where necessary, creating more revenue for driver pay to be increased – the system helps generate business and regulate costs.”