Europe's largest parcel hub completed for DPD
The UK's favourite parcel delivery company DPD has confirmed that building work on its new £100m, 360,000 square feet parcel hub at Hinckley Commercial Park, Leicestershire has been completed ahead of schedule.
The giant new hub, the largest of its kind in Europe, will increase DPD's parcel capacity by over 65 percent. The investment is also set to create 1,000 permanent new jobs in 2015.
Global integrated property group Goodman owns and manages Hinckley Commercial Park, which is one of the Midlands' premier logistics developments. Goodman developed this new parcel hub for DPD on a pre-sale basis.
Work began on the site close to J1 of the M69 in July 2013, and the facility is set to be fully operational by September 2015. The build phase involved 250,000 tonnes of earth moved to prepare the site, 4,500 tonnes of steelwork and 75,000 tonnes of concrete.
The building itself is 470 metres long and 40 metres wide with 264 loading dock doors, while the site in total covers 32 acres. The building also includes 6,790 square metres of mezzanine split over two levels with 624 square metres of office space.
Work will now continue to fit-out the interior, with conveyor specialists Beumer already on-site installing the automated sortation system that will run the length of the building.
Dwain McDonald, DPD's CEO, said; "This is a very significant day for us. The building looks absolutely stunning and for it to be completed ahead of schedule is a credit to everyone involved. Hinckley gives us significant scope to expand our capacity and allows us to stay one step ahead of the growth in the online parcel market and our competitors.
"Our current level of investment is unprecedented in the industry and Hinckley is just part of the expansion that has taken place in recent times. We've also opened 18 new depots around the country in the last two years, nine of them being purpose-built developments. As a result, we have been creating around 1,000 new jobs a year and 2015 will see us continue with that level of growth."
Throughout the project, DPD has worked closely with Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council and with integrated, global property group Goodman, who have been responsible for developing the site.
Charles Crossland, Managing Director of Goodman UK Logistics, said: "We are proud to announce the completion of this significant pre-sale at Hinckley Commercial Park. It is one of our most important logistics developments to date in terms of its scale, and demonstrates Goodman's ability to deliver bespoke, complex customer requirements within a set time frame.
"The activity at Hinckley Commercial Park and the DPD build in particular are a response to the upturn in the UK economy and the lack of supply of quality commercial property in Leicestershire. DPD's distribution hub will play a major role in promoting the region as a prime logistics location and attracting further investment."
Recruitment for the Hinckley hub will begin in earnest in the New Year with opportunities for; deck hands, parcel loaders, management positions, vehicle maintenance, HGV mechanics, security, admin and IT.
DPD's growth is based on its unique Predict and Follow My Parcel services which give customers advanced notification of a one hour delivery slot, and allow them to track their driver on a map, or send real-time instructions if they can't be home for a delivery.
DPD was recently voted the top delivery company in the UK by Which? members for the second year running.
DPD is a member of one of Europe's leading parcels groups GeoPost, wholly owned by France's La Poste, the second largest postal group in Europe.
The company employs more than 7,000 people in the UK, operating more than 3,000 vehicles from over 50 locations and delivering 1.6 million parcels per week.
The full results of the Which? poll were as follows:
Which? customer satisfaction score
Goodman Group is an integrated property group with operations worldwide. For more information, visit: http://uklogistics.goodman.com/
Driver shortages: Why the industry needs to be worried
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