May 17, 2020

Being short of couriers just isn't an option anymore

Admin
2 min
Being short of couriers just isn't an option anymore
Whether you're a small courier firm or a large corporate transportation company, SMS Campaign understand that scheduling your staff and finding imme...

Whether you're a small courier firm or a large corporate transportation company, SMS Campaign understand that scheduling your staff and finding immediate freelance resource can be a lengthy process. SMS Campaign have come up with a way to help streamline this process.

The automated system, called SMS Campaign, is a bulk message service with an interactive element designed to help streamline your courier scheduling systems. The platform is also cloud based, meaning you can access this software from anywhere at any time, providing that you have internet access. Cloud based software, such as SMS Campaign, offers major benefits such as reduced costs to the company, minimal downtime and easy management.

Designed to remove pain points, SMS Campaign reduces the stress caused when you suddenly find yourself very low on couriers and your customers are still making phone calls, booking jobs etc. This is a very typical situation in a same-day courier control room. With SMS Campaign a dispatch manager can send one communication to any number of couriers who are on standby and wait for the reply to cover your work, a very easy and simple method that works. The results mean it is easier to manage workflow in the control room and the customers are kept happy with the continuation of service.

Thomas De Vos Technical Solutions Provider explained - "SMS Campaign is more than a standard bulk text messaging solution. The key benefit is the real-time reply system, allowing the operator to monitor instant replies to respond to a specific need. This is why it fits really well with the courier industry. There are thousands of freelance couriers in the UK, so it can also be a way of increasing your resources and to grow your business."

SMS Marketing is a global tool used to build customer relationships. As these tools evolve, more and more people believe that customer specific information politely sent to a medium such as a mobile phone is the way forward. 90% of people open text messages within the first 3 minutes of being received. It is for that reason that IT Enterprise decided to explore the mobile marketing route.

 

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Jun 19, 2021

Driver shortages: Why the industry needs to be worried

Logistics
SCALA
supplychain
Brexit
Rob Wright, Executive Director...
4 min
Logistics professionals need urgent solutions to a shortage in drivers caused by a perfect storm of Brexit, COVID-19 and compounding economic factors

While driver shortages are a global problem, with a recent survey from the International Road Transport Union suggesting that driver shortages are expected to increase by 25% year-on-year across its 23 member countries, the issue has very much made itself felt for UK businesses in recent weeks. 

A perfect storm of factors, which many within the industry have been wary of, and warning about, for months, have led to a situation wherein businesses are suddenly facing significant difficulties around transporting goods to shelves on time, as well as inflated operating costs for doing so. 

What’s more, the public may also see price rises as a result due to demand outmatching supply for certain product lines, which in turn brings with it the risk of customer dissatisfaction and a hit to brand and stakeholder reputation. Given that this price inflation has been speculated to hit in October, when the extended grace period on Brexit customs checks comes to an end, the worst may be yet to come.

"Steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole"


That said, we have already been hearing reports of service interruption due to lack of driver availability, meaning that volumes aren’t being transported, or delivered, to required schedules and lead times. A real-world example of this occurred on the weekend of 4-6 June with convenience retailer Nisa, with deliveries to Nisa outlets across the UK affected by driver shortages to its logistics provider DHL.

But where has this skills shortage stemmed from? 

Supply is the primary issue. Specifically, the number of available EU drivers has decreased by up to 15,000 drivers due to Brexit alone, and this has been further exacerbated by drivers returning to their home country during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes to foreign exchange rates making UK a less desirable place to live and work. This, alongside the recent need to manage IR35 tax changes, has also led to significant inflation in driver and transport costs.

COVID-19 complications have also meant that there have been no HGV driver tests over the past year, meaning the expected 6,000-7,000 new drivers over the past year have not appeared. With the return of the hospitality sector we understand that this is a significant challenge with, for instance, order delivery lead times being extended.

It is little surprise, therefore, that the Road Haulage Association (RHA) earlier this month became the latest in a long line of industry spokespeople to write to the government about the driver shortage for trucks. The letter echoed the view held by much of the industry, that the cause of this issue is both multi-faceted and, at least in some aspects, long-standing. 

So, many in the industry are in agreement as to the driving factors behind this crisis. But what can be done? 

Simply enough, outside of businesses completely reorganising their supply chain network, external support is needed. In the short-term, the government should consider providing the industry with financial aid, and this can also be supported more widely with legislative change. 

Specifically, immigration policy could be updated to place drivers on the shortage occupations list, which would go some way towards easing the burden created by foreign drivers returning to their home countries. Looking elsewhere, government should also look for ways to increase the availability of HGV driver tests after the blockage created by the coronavirus lockdowns.

Looking more long-term, steps must be taken to make a career in the industry a more attractive proposition for younger drivers, which will require a joint effort from government, industry bodies, and the sector as a whole. As it stands, multiple sources suggest that the average age of truck drivers in the UK is 48, with only one in every hundred drivers under the age of 25. We must therefore do more to increase the talent pipeline coming into the industry if we are to offset more significant skills shortages further down the line. 

On the back of a turbulent year for the supply chain industry, it has become increasingly clear that the long-foretold shortage of drivers is now having a tangible and, in places, crippling effect on supply chains. 

Drivers, and the wider supply chain industry, have rightly been recognised for the seismic role they played in keeping the nation moving and fed over the past year under unprecedented strain. If this level of service is to continue, we must now see Government answer calls to provide the support the sector needs, and work hand-in-hand with the industry to find a solution. If we do not see concrete action to this effect soon, we are likely to be in for a turbulent few months. 
 

Rob Wright is executive director at SCALA, a leading provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector

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