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Solutions to the rising driver shortage

Driver shortages are continuing to plague the logistics industry with nearly two out of three transport and storage businesses facing a severe skills gap, according to a recent report by the Freight Transport Association.

These concerning numbers featured in The Logistics Skills Report are detrimental to business, hitting road transport operators during a time of already slim margins and industry-wide uncertainty in the run up to Brexit.

Andrew at Descartes Conf 2019 - The FutureThe report found that 60% of HGV drivers are over the age of 44 and only a mere 19% are under the age of 35. This combination of an ageing workforce, low unemployment, declining EU net migration and difficulties in attracting new recruits to the industry has created a serious problem for logistics service providers.

Drivers are decreasing at a rate of 16,000 year-on-year; no small figure considering the growth of online businesses and the demand for flexible delivery options from both consumers and businesses in all types of sectors. With Brexit set to cause a whole host of changes, it’s safe to say driver shortages may only get worse once the UK leaves the EU. Drivers may also be tied up in customs longer, and businesses will get less out of the same resource.

With the peak shopping season, Christmas, just around the corner also bringing its own multitude of pressures from consumers demanding delivery at a date and time convenient for them, as well as accurate tracking and all on top of the potential weather issues, it’s no surprise that many businesses are deeply concerned about the future. Clearly, there’s never been a more important time for providers to maximise their operations. Logistics providers need to limber up and focus on getting more from their existing resource base whilst retaining drivers and improving efficiencies across every aspect of their business in order to survive. So what exactly can businesses do?

A key factor is to utilise smart technology to leverage the efficiencies required to prosper in the challenging climate, while also countering additional factors, such as emissions zone charges, increasing congestion and penalties for missed delivery slots. Most importantly, enabling drivers to do so while remaining compliant with drivers’ hours rules.

By evolving and streamlining operations with intelligent supply chain infrastructure, such as scalable and advanced route planning and optimisation software, it can transform performance and enable logistics professionals to maximise the utilisation and efficiency of their existing resources.

The Descartes’ Route Planning solutions continually optimise demand and delivery capacity against resources to ensure drivers take the most efficient routes, conserve fuel and save time, whilst also ensuring that deliveries are never missed or drivers over-scheduled. The impact can be significant, decreasing costs, improving service, increasing productivity and reducing the fleet’s environmental impact. The delivery options for customers presented at the point of sale are realistic, achievable and costed.

Descartes is unique in the marketplace in offering Software as a Service solutions for fleets of all sizes that manage drivers’ hours compliance and optimise delivery capacity. For instance, the John Lewis Partnership increased delivery capacity by 35% using Descartes routing and scheduling software whilst road transport operators have reduced infringement levels by 50% with Descartes SmartCompliance.
From pulling together disparate aspects of the supply chain via integrated transport management and route planning to leveraging and sharing real time data across the supply chain, Descartes solutions enable transport operators and retailers to better manage assets and achieve the ‘do more with less’ mantra.

Using this technology to move beyond siloed deployments, transport operators can unlock greater efficiency gains whilst minimising the need to recruit new drivers. For example, using digital tachographs to manage driver hours is key in reducing the chances of breaking the law. This information is also valuable outside the traditional compliance management remit and should form an essential component in optimising road transport operations. By feeding drivers’ hours data into route planning software, it ensures this information is included within the planning process by default and as such the schedule can be planned far more efficiently – there is no need for drivers to park up in laybys for a rest or to wait for scheduled delivery slots. Critically, no company or driver will have to face the choice between breaking drivers’ hours law and breaking a customer delivery promise either.

By optimising operations, road transport operators can offset the pressure from the increasing driver shortage, for the benefit of the organisation, their existing workforce and indeed the industry as a whole.

For more examples of how Descartes can help streamline road transport, and for more information on the technology Descartes can provide to optimise your operations with customs and routing software ahead of Brexit and the peak period, get in touch with our team here.