When there is a shortage of drivers, trucks need to be better filled. Whilst the current pandemic situation has challenged supply chains and logistics in unprecedented ways, it has further intensified the already disturbing issue of driver shortages.
There has been a vast debate about the strategies needed to diminish the continuous problem of driver shortages across Europe. Some suggest short-term solutions such as making truck driving an attractive job by increasing pay, introducing bonuses, giving opportunities to buy shares and flexible working hours.
On the other hand, some recommend long term solutions, which sometimes require government or institutional intervention such as recruitment programmes for females and ex-army personnel, raising awareness in schools, training programmes, redefining existing regulations and creating new regulations as well as creating resting and parking facilities.
Even before the pandemic was a serious cause for concern in the industry, the lack of drivers in the road transport industry had reached an all-time high with many of its underlying issues being long-term challenges. Factors such as an ageing workforce and insufficient numbers of new recruits, due to working conditions and image issues of the profession, have been plaguing the industry for many years.
A number of large chains have said that they are struggling with availability of items, and now the furniture giant IKEA is also reporting the same.
A spokesperson for IKEA's 22 outlets in the UK and Ireland states that the combination of Brexit, Covid-19, increased raw material prices and difficulties in transporting goods from factory to store affects approximately 10 percent of IKEA's product range.
Photo: FRIEDEMANN VOGEL / EPA
A report on Norwegian national television on Friday September 3rd, showed empty shelves in UK supermarkets. No bread, no vegetables, no poultry.
Why? - Lack of truck drivers.
Brexit caused a large number of foreigners employed as truck drivers to leave the country.
But the UK is not the only region lacking drivers for trucks. A newsletter from CLECAT on August 27th, (representing European Freight Forwarding and Logistics companies) states that there is a shortfall of more than 400.000 drivers across Europe. The newsletter states that the ones mostly suffering are Poland (shortage of around 124.000 drivers), UK (76.000 drivers), and Germany (45.000-60.000 drivers).
This situation is not new, and CLECAT indicates the driver shortage in Europe is set to get worse.
Is there an easy way out?
It is not easy these days to get facts about fill-rates of trucks in Europe. Statistics from Japan, however, show that the average load factor of trucks is currently below 40%. One reason: many small shipments and short delivery times with little or no collaboration between shippers or service providers.
If shippers and logistics service providers were able to collaborate, then load factors could be increased (also by combining light and heavy cargo). This alone may be reducing the need for drivers by 30% or more.
One way of achieving such collaboration is to use MIXMOVE logistics solutions in terminals. This has been proven to significantly improve load factors, and as such reducing the need for trucks, in a large logistics network in Europe and for urban distribution in the Netherlands and Portugal.
Cargo from multiple shippers are consolidated/reconstructed to ensure that all vehicles leaving a terminal are fully utilized - weight AND volume.
With the MIXMOVE cloud solution, we have helped our customers with the following:
Reduce transport costs up to - 35% by increasing transport fill rates up to + 90%.
Move from order view to product view and reach the new e-commerce standard of shipping.
Emit significantly less CO2 by choosing high level delivery efficiency.
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