Singapore Companies Steal Limelight at Asian Freight and Supply Chain Awards 2014
Singapore companies were in a cheerful mood last night as they snapped up seven of the 39 awards presented at the 28th Asian Freight and Supply Chain Awards ceremony in Shanghai.
Several hundred top transport, logistics and supply chain executives from around the region gathered at The Peninsula to celebrate the event, popularly known as The AFSCAs, organized by market leading transport and logistics newspaper Cargonews Asia.
PSA Singapore Terminals grabbed two awards, Best Container Terminal Asia (over four million TEUS) and Best Global Container Terminal Operating Co. The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore won the award for Best Seaport Asia for the 26th year and APL won the award for Best Transpacific Shipping Line.
PSA's win for Best Container Terminal Asia for the 25th year gave it the right to enter Cargonews Asia's Hall of Fame along with DHL, Changi Airport and MPA, who were inducted last year. A shiny, golden trophy was presented to PSA to brighten up their boardroom.
Singapore's Changi Airport was the Best Airport in Asia for the 28th year while Singapore Airlines Cargo and SATS picked up the awards for Best Air Cargo Carrier Asia and Best Air Cargo Terminal Asia respectively.
FedEx Express (FedEx), a subsidiary of FedEx Corp, has earned the Best Air Cargo Carrier – North America award for the 11th time.
FedEx Express Asia Pacific president David L Cunningham Jr, said: “This consistent recognition is an affirmation of our best-in-class service.”
DHL continued its impressive track record of winning three or more awards at The AFSCAs by scooping up trophies for Best 3PL, Best Express Operator and Best Logistics Service Provider – Air Freight.
One of Asia’s leading logistics service providers, Kerry Logistics, which took home two awards last year in their first trip to the AFSCAs, snapped up two awards again this year – Best Logistics Service Provider, Project Cargo and Best Road Haulier Asia.
HAROPA, Port of Le Havre, took the award for Best Seaport Europe for the fourth year running while IAG Cargo, which won the award for Best Air Cargo Terminal Europe last year, won it again this year.
The Middle East also recorded impressive results at the 28th AFSCAs. Emirate SkyCargo retained its Best Air Cargo Carrier Middle East title, Dubai International Airport held on to the Best Airport Middle East award, and the Port of Jebel Ali kept the trophy for Best Seaport Middle East.
Hong Kong for the first time picked up two awards at the AFSCAs. Hong Kong International Airport won the Best Green Airport award and Hong Kong Polytechnic University Best Educational Course Provider.
One surprise was the award for Best Seaport North America. Two rival ports on the US East Coast received the same number of votes from Cargonews Asia readers. They are the Port of Savannah and the Port of Charleston.
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