It is fair to say that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused a lot of challenges for businesses in all sectors. The transport sector is one that has actually seen a large rise in uptake, as there has been a great demand for more deliveries to large retailers and delivery drivers. However, while there have been opportunities, there have also been challenges.
Here, we take a look at some of the issues that transport businesses are having to deal with, and what they can do about them.
Rising fuel costs
In 2021, petrol and diesel rose to their highest levels since 2013 — and while that’s not good news for anyone using the roads, it’s especially problematic for the transport industry. No matter what kind of transport or logistics the business is involved in, the costs of fuel play a big role in the overall expenses of the company.
Of course, fluctuating fuel costs are nothing new and they are something that businesses in the industry do have to deal with. But, with no forecasts for reductions on the horizon, it could be the case that transport companies will have to deal with high prices indefinitely.
Shortage of qualified drivers
It has been well documented that there is a shortage of qualified drivers — one of a number of issues causing issues for supermarkets and other retailers. In fact, many companies are having to offer increased salaries and bonuses in order to tempt drivers to join them.
But throwing more money to attempt to hire people isn’t an approach that is going to be sustainable long-term. It’s a much better idea to focus on increasing the supply of trained drivers. Given that HGV drivers can be prepared for a test with just five days of intensive training — it is up to the industry to invest more in opportunities for potential new drivers to learn.
Supply chain issues
It is perhaps not always understood that some of the challenges for transport companies are actually nothing to do with them specifically. Indeed, perhaps the most difficult challenge to deal with is issues within the supply chain, as this can hold up and confuse elements of the transport service.
The well-documented rising costs of global shipping have played havoc across the supply chain and this issue looks set to continue for a long time.
Lack of supply chain visibility
Speaking of the supply chain, it’s not just the extra expenses that can cause problems. Indeed, one major challenge for transport companies is a lack of supply chain visibility. For deliveries and transportation to be managed on time, companies need to fully understand the movements within the supply chain (preferably up to the minute).
In an ideal world, shipments would be tracked and followed through their route and schedule. There would also be notifications of any delays or disruptions as well as an updated expected time of arrival. When transport companies are able to know as early as possible about issues they need to deal with, they have the chance to fix them.
Changing government regulations
There is no doubt that the upheaval around issues such as Brexit, as well as a wide range of other transport-related issues have led to modifications in government regulations. This will always present a challenge as businesses have to keep up with the changes and ensure that their workforce are adhering to new practices.
Undoubtedly, sustainability and a push for eco-friendly alternatives has caused growing issues for the transport sector. When there is a focus on reducing emissions and minimising carbon footprints, this can sometimes run counter to the previous standard practice of transport companies and leave them having to adopt new policies.
Some areas within cities prescribe specific routes or make zones off limits to larger vehicles, which can again complicate transport. There are many things that drivers can do themselves to help with this, so transport businesses should look to educate their staff.
As with all sectors, the last year has seen a great deal of change and the future remains unsettled. Businesses have had to modify their practice in order to keep up with both an increased demand for transportation, and an entirely altered market. Yes, transport companies do face challenges, but often through these challenges, solutions can be developed that actually help to create a more productive and efficient workforce.