Another exciting, and busy(!) year in logistics has almost passed but we’re not resting on our laurels! 2018 will soon be upon us and we’re rapidly preparing for what the new year will bring us, our drivers and the logistics industry.
2017 has already been a huge year for logistics – from the announcement of driverless lorry trials to increased regulations on rest breaks. We’ve got our crystal ball out (we are, however, not Mystic Meg) to predict what could possibly affect the industry in the coming 12 months.
There have been concerns about how Brexit will affect the logistics industry since the results of the referendum were announced last June, and these concerns keep growing. According to the Home Affairs Committee, the government is showing a worrying lack of leadership in its approach to post-Brexit customs arrangements.
As a service based country, we rely heavily on the import of natural resources especially petrol – 27% of our petroleum products pass through the EU before making it here. If negotiations result in Britain not being part of the single market, tariffs will be placed on all goods entering the country from EU countries, forcing those goods to become more expensive. Those higher costs are likely to have a ripple down effect within the logistics industry with haulier and logistics firms passing on the increased costs to customers.
It isn’t just the single market that companies are concerned about. Freedom of movement and customs and border controls are also at the top of the list, both expecting to cost businesses billions of pounds.
It is hard for us to make a Brexit prediction, so instead, we hope (we’re being very faithful here) that the negotiators can find a way to make Brexit a success for everyone.
What’s the government doing?
With continued pressure to provide safe and hygienic rest stops for drivers, next year should (and in our opinion, HAS to) be the year the government invests in adequate HGV parking facilities. This year a shocking 250 lorries were turned away from Ashford Truckstop in just one night, the night a new policy was implemented to clamp and fine illegally parked HGVs in certain areas. This also came at the same time it was decided that drivers who take their weekly rest break in cab must park in formal rest areas such as service areas and truck stops.
Drivers deserve and need safe rest areas, it is imperative to road safety and supports an essential industry. A petition urging the government to provide adequate rest areas is close to reaching its 15,000 mark, adding extra pressure on the government as we move into January.
Goodbye petrol and diesel
The price of fuel just keeps soaring, adding additional costs to hauliers and owner drivers. British company Arrival wants to solve this issue with their sustainable, all-electric vehicles. Royal Mail has already committed to a long-term trial of the company’s 4.25-tonne truck, and full production of the flagship vehicle is planned for the end of this year. Designs have also been made for the 7.5-tonne vehicle. So, while we won’t be seeing any electric 40 tonners on the road anytime soon, we reckon 2018 is the year sustainable vehicles will become the norm throughout the country’s major cities.
Rise of Skynet (maybe)
Ok, we definitely won’t be seeing terminators driving lorries anytime soon, but what we’re referring to is the increasing rate automation and “robots” are being used in logistics. According to the Royal Society of Arts, one in five transport business leaders believes there is considerable potential for the use of robots working in the industry within the next decade. Last year, approximately 40,000 robot units where shipped to warehouse and logistics businesses worldwide and this number is only going to increase. We don’t think 2018 will be the year robots take over, but we do predict we’ll see an increased presence of them – hopefully being a help, not a hindrance.
The more time that passes, the more drivers who will be reaching retirement age and leaving the industry. This has been a hot topic this year with a considerable number of hauliers concerned about the “driver shortage”. It isn’t only drivers retiring that is the perceived problem – people are leaving for job opportunities outside of driving because of poor facilities, increased pressure to obtain additional qualifications, long hours and of course, Brexit. If a plan isn’t put in place to attract new talent into the industry, we could see yet another year of serious driver shortages.
As people who are passionate about the logistics industry, it’s heart-breaking to see the industry’s ability to deliver quality services limited, along with it losing some amazing talent in the form of drivers opting to leave.
Do you agree with our logistics predictions or do you have predictions of your own?