This week, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) launched their Logistics Report for 2013.The report, which runs to some 78 pages, turns a spotlight onto the entire industry to examine how it’s fared over the past year, and forecast for the year to come. The report covers several ‘focus areas’ which drill down into the detail, giving an accurate picture of the industry as a whole.
Getting the right people on board
One of the focuses of the report this year was on retaining talent and boosting skills in an Industry which is mostly hidden.
As in previous years, the FTA Logistics Industry Survey 2012/2013 asked respondents about their perception of public understanding of logistics. It found that there was a slight increase in the perception of Government understanding of logistics but that views on public understanding remained low.
The casual assumption of many that ‘goods just arrive on the shelves’ is belied by the complexity and sophistication of today’s supply chains. Yet those involved in logistics understand that its most splendid successes often happen when it does not get noticed – because that means it is doing its job properly.
On a normal day, 265,000 freight vehicles visit London. Their role is to deliver the products the city needs, such as: food for shops and restaurants; beer for pubs; laundry for hotels; and taking away London’s waste. The movement of these goods and services enables London to make its £323 billion, or 21.5 per cent, contribution to the UK’s GDP.
Historically, there has been a shortage of large goods vehicle drivers and although this has been mitigated to a great extent by the economic slowdown and an influx of workers from elsewhere in Europe, there is still concern that an increase in demand will result in the return of recruitment and retention problems.
The number of respondents saying that they expect to increase training in 2013 rose to 37 per cent, compared to 28 per cent who reported that they increased training in 2012. Respondents to the survey were also much more positive about the outlook for employment and training than in 2011. Furthermore, Respondents reported a slight uplift in fleet investment in 2012- twenty per cent intend to increase their HGV fleet in 2013.
In 2012, basic pay for transport staff rose by three per cent in line with inflation. The majority of respondents to the FTA Logistics Industry Survey 2012/2013 expect to increase salaries for transport related staff, reduce redundancy levels and employ more staff in 2013. This is also reflected in the number of HGV drivers claiming unemployment related benefits. Hiring expectations also show an upwards move, which is good news for private sector recruitment.
However, there is concern at a lack of HGV drivers coming into the industry, with a considerable shortfall anticipated by 2014; improving the image of logistics, and specifically road freight, by addressing its safety record is seen as an important means of encouraging people to enter the industry.
The London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics gave the logistics industry a unique platform to de-mystify the supply chain and to showcase its abilities. Ahead of the Games there were quite legitimate concerns about the impact that additional access restrictions, coupled with increased security, would have on London’s businesses and residents. However, due to meticulous planning by industry, supported by comprehensive and effectively communicated information by Transport for London’s Road Freight Management team, there were very few failed deliveries.
“The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were a great success, due in large part to the excellent planning and collaborative team-working between the freight industry and partners including Transport for London, the Traffic Commissioners, Games organisers and London’s boroughs. As a result, no supermarkets had empty shelves, no pubs ran out of beer and no hospital was short of vital supplies. We will continue to work closely with FTA and the freight industry to build a legacy from the London 2012 Games. Working together, we’ve shown how we can manage deliveries and logistics in new and innovative ways that will help us keep London moving not just for one summer, but in the years to come, and bring benefits to the freight industry too.” Sir Peter Hendy CBE, Transport Commissioner for London
The Olympics was the opportunity for logistics to show customers, politicians and the general public what it can do. As a result, logistics should stop being seen as the problem and instead show that it is part of the solution. Probably the most notable benefit is the high political profile that freight now has in London. Logistics also had some excellent coverage in the national media ahead of the Games. Logistics firms have had to work closely with their customers, and in many cases seek their support for changes to their delivery and servicing activity. The result is that many businesses now have a better understanding of their supply chain and some are keen to harness changes to their delivery patterns permanently.
Going for Green
“Logistics’ commitment to improving the efficiency, sustainability and safety of its operations is unwavering, even in the face of ever increasing challenges. While there remains a certain lack of appreciation – at least among the general public – of the improvements that have been delivered, the Olympics has ‘opened the eyes’ of other audiences to the key role the industry plays. Logistics will continue to strive for improvement, but Government, regulators and others who rely on, or interact with industry, must recognise that sustainability, efficiency and safety are shared responsibilities. Everyone must play their part to secure those benefits.”
Taking care is also about logistics playing its part in reducing carbon and other harmful emissions to the environment. The latest official figures, from 2010, show that 21 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions are from transport. Of all transport emissions, hgvs account for 20 per cent while private cars contribute the greater proportion to the total (57 per cent). Logistics is under continued pressure to improve efficiency and reduce carbon emissions and to demonstrate that it is doing its bit to reduce its carbon footprint.