How Sigma is addressing supply chain driver shortages
The HGV (Heavy Goods Vehicle) driver shortage has been big news in the UK in recent months, with reports suggesting 100,000 more drivers are needed if the nation is to meet demand, according to the Road Haulage Association (RHA).
While a shortage of drivers is by no means a new phenomenon, the long-standing issue has only been exacerbated by factors such as the rapid growth and demand following the economic downturn due to Covid, the onset of Brexit and the acceleration of the move from physical stores to e-fulfilment in retail.
"As an end-to-end solutions provider, our capabilities and strengths mean we have an excellent understanding of the wider market and supply chain. This ensures we are extremely well placed not only to overcome the unprecedented challenges in the market for our own business, but also for our customers."
Supermarket giants including Iceland, Morrisons and Ocado, amongst others, have even thrown their weight behind calls for special UK Visa schemes to allow Eastern European and foreign drivers to tackle labour shortages. Yet, at the time of writing, this has not been forthcoming and many believe it would not go far enough to fix Britain’s supply chain crisis.
Of course, it is not only limited to British shores. In the Germany there is a need for up to 50,000 more drivers, while other countries have faced similar deficiencies, suggesting there is a wider issue regarding HGV drivers that needs to be addressed.
Confronting the challenges
What many fail to realise is, Brexit and Covid are masking the bigger issue behind HGV driver shortages in the UK including an ageing workforce. Indeed, an average driver age of 53 years 3 suggests not only that younger people are avoiding the industry, but that the nation faces the very real possibility it may not be long before the situation is exacerbated. Particularly if s growing number of drivers consider early retirement amidst a potential boiling pot of rising salaries and increased workplace stresses resultant of the current market landscape.
The stark reality is, while other industries have excelled at attracting the best young talent, the logistics and haulage sector has somewhat of an ‘image’ issue that needs to be addressed if it is to become an appealing career path for budding generations.
A survey of more than 2,000 people across the UK conducted back in 2016 by HGVtraining.co.uk found that just one-in-five (21%) 18 to 24-year-olds would consider a career in lorry driving 4 . And it would seem, even half a decade later, the industry is still struggling to shake off a negative perception.
So what remedies can retailers, distributors and companies put in place to combat the fallout from such a critical shortage?
The Sigma solution
At Sigma, as an end-to-end solutions provider, our capabilities and strengths mean we have an excellent understanding of the wider market and supply chain. This ensures we are extremely well placed not only to overcome the unprecedented challenges in the market for our own business, but also for our customers.
It’s thanks to our capabilities of working across a broad spectrum of different projects and sectors – providing a diverse range of solutions for a growing range of customers – that we are able to understand the wider market dynamics better than many ‘single play’ logistics providers.
As a company we are continuously evolving to ensure we remain an attractive place to work, and when it comes to logistics and distribution this is certainly the case. By placing significant investment not only in retaining our current crop of highly skilled and experienced drivers, but also in training a new generation, we are perfectly positioned to overcome issues that are arising now and may arise in future.
Our pioneering ‘Warehouse for Wheels’ initiative is breaking new ground in the sector, supporting a fresh cohort of young employees from our warehouses to re-train as drivers in our growing haulage fleet. A fleet comprised of vehicles from 3.5 – 44 tons, to allow a flexible solution throughout any proposed programme.
We are proud to be working with supply chain partners who despite facing unprecedented challenges of their own, have continued to show true partnership spirit. Working closely with we have delivered solutions that have led to us collectively maintain services to our ‘end’ customers through an incredibly difficult time.
We have also been delighted by our customers’ approach to this national issue. By collaborating with them closely and looking at opportunities to condense the supply chains, we have managed to reduce overall vehicle mileage, decrease the amount of empty running and mitigate the impact of rising vehicle costs resulting in smarter daily operational decisions. This has also led to environmental benefits and a better overall carbon footprint.
What’s more as a growing business we are not held back by layers of ‘plc’ bureaucracy and can react quickly to requests as well as provide pro-active support and guidance. The result is the ability to manage the supply chain more efficiently and effectively, be that by reducing the frequency of deliveries, delivering on site at the right time, or reducing the number of hours on the road.
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