[ID] => 10305
[post_author] => 34
[post_date] => 2018-11-02 11:08:46
[post_date_gmt] => 2018-11-02 11:08:46
[post_content] => This month we report back from the EPCA Annual Meeting, held in an unseasonably warm Vienna at the start of October. As ever, the meeting attracted the great and the good from all points in the chemical supply chain, with executives from far and wide treated to a well-appointed few days in the company of their customers and suppliers.
EPCA had drawn up a programme that featured some surprises, not least in terms of the willingness of senior speakers to be candid about their companies’ efforts in the area of sustainability. The promised focus on ‘smart’ and climate-resilient cities also turned out to be more relevant than might have been expected.
Amid all these insights and the gladhanding, however, there was another surprise. HCB spoke to plenty of logistics providers while we were there and they all had the same hot topic to talk about: drivers. Or, more specifically, the increasing difficulty they are having in recruiting and retaining drivers.
This is not a new problem and it is not unique to Europe – much the same is happening in other developed markets. But it is now becoming critical. So far, European hauliers have managed to keep going by attracting drivers from eastern Europe (meanwhile, of course, hauliers in eastern Europe have had to recruit from yet further east). But that tap will only run for so long before it runs dry.
Offering more cash doesn’t seem to work – rates for drivers have gone up and up but, while it may have had some impact on driver retention, it is not attracting new blood. Hauliers are spending heavily on new, more comfortable cabs with better equipment but it seems that young people in the developed world simply do not see driving a truck as being a worthwhile career.
Hauliers are also struggling with the problem of an ageing driver pool and competition from local delivery companies, buoyed by the never-ending boom in internet shopping. Those who want to drive can easily find a way to do so and still get home every evening.
One company that spoke to HCB during the EPCA Annual Meeting even suggested that some recent merger activity in the European haulage industry represented attempts to ‘buy’ drivers.
However, a comment more commonly heard was that ‘drivers want to drive’. That is to say, they do not want to spend their finite hours of service sitting in traffic jams, nor waiting for hours at a loading site. It seems ridiculous that, with such a shortage in driver numbers, those that are employed are spending so much of their time not driving.
Chemical manufacturers could help by making sure that consignments are ready at the loading dock or rack when the truck turns up. In these increasingly inter-connected times, it should not be beyond the wit of the developers of telematics solutions to tie those links in the supply chain more closely together.
Some independent loading locations, particularly in the bulk liquids storage sector, have made much of their ability to turn trucks around quickly. As the driver shortage gets worse, shippers may look more favourably on those sites that can do this. If that confers a noticeable competitive advantage for the businesses concerned, then other sites may be forced to follow suit. And not before time.
[post_title] => Letter from the Editor: Where have all the drivers gone?
[post_status] => publish
[comment_status] => open
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[post_name] => letter-editor-drivers-gone
[post_modified] => 2018-11-02 11:08:46
[post_modified_gmt] => 2018-11-02 11:08:46
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[guid] => https://www.hcblive.com/?p=10305
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Letter from the Editor: Where have all the drivers gone?
// By Peter Mackay on 2 Nov 2018
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