Since the 23rd of March, The United Kingdom has been in ‘lockdown’. Meaning, the country is to stay indoors and only leave for essential reasons. For example, buying food and medicine, exercising, or working if you are a ‘key’ or ‘essential worker’. To be an essential worker means your job role is critical to keep important services running. For example, NHS staff, civil servants, and delivery drivers. The impact of the Covid-19 outbreak is being realized. Meanwhile, it has highlighted the importance of logistics and haulage.
Since last week drivers are now recognised as ‘essential workers,’ and are thus allowed to leave their homes for work. This includes transport workers in air, water, road, rail, and freight. The need for their skills is greater than ever. As the weeks progress, it is becoming increasingly clear how essential drivers are to sustaining the country through this pandemic.
The Supply Chain
Since China went into lockdown, the world has seen a ripple effect through supply chains. Industries of all kinds have seen disruption, forcing the world to adapt and keep essential supplies moving. It has been a concerning time for everyone, with many people instinctively stocking up on various groceries. This has led to the eerily empty shelves in supermarkets. Despite concerns, supermarkets and the Freight Transport Association (FTA) have reassured the country that the current lack of stock is not a supply issue. Rather, the shortages are due to panic buying, which has occurred across the entire United Kingdom. However, the Covid-19 outbreak has revealed some of the vulnerabilities within haulage and logistics around the world.
Mainly, it shows the sector is extremely short of drivers. However, the industry has been flat out in recent weeks to keep the supply chain moving, ensuring essentials reach those most in need. The key message coming from industry officials is that the logistics and haulage sectors can cope. Provided, under these current circumstances the government works with them and allows for some flexibility.
The industry has recently seen relaxations on industry standards and regulations from the government. For example, Hours of Service rules have been temporarily relaxed, and The London Lorry Control Scheme (LLCS) postponed. Also, it looks likely the Mayor of London’s ‘Direct Vision Standard’ and clean air zone schemes will see delays to give the sector time to recover from the current demand.
There are challenges, however little wins such as the reduction of non-essential road users are keeping deliveries speedy. Representative bodies within logistics and haulage are also advocating for graces on toll charges, fuel duty cuts, and support to provide relief vehicles. The FTA are working to ensure essential vehicles still undergo needed maintenance and MOT checks.
Also, businesses that have had to suspend their normal operations are now available to support the effort. For example, refrigerated vehicles, food handling systems, and warehouse spaces are being re-purposed to support essential operations. Furthermore, retail staff are being re-directed to support the extra demand in supermarkets.
Guidance for the Industry
With flexibility required within the sector during this pandemic, The FTA are being proactive. Providing drivers and haulage companies with up to date guidance and information. With the situation changing daily, and drivers now considered key workers, this information is crucial.
Firstly, they have dedicated a page on their website solely to Coronavirus and the transport sector. There are a range articles and topics for drivers and fleet operators, all aimed at supporting companies during this pandemic. While ensuring they operate safely, compliantly, and legally. Also, you will find the ‘Coronavirus Logistics Impact Survey.’ The survey takes around five minutes to complete. It aims to gather up-to-date information on the industry response to the outbreak. Each week they will publish the results, giving a top-line report for people in the industry to view and digest for free. The results will guide discussions with industry officials and the government.
To access the survey results simply give a few personal details and the most recent results will be available to view: https://fta.co.uk/coronavirus/fta-coronavirus-logistics-impact-survey
The report results include:
- The number for drivers currently in self-isolation.
- Current measures from the government in place to cope with the impact of Coronavirus.
- Changes most organizations have implemented.
- How companies are at the moment from a business point of view.
- Expected impacts on the industry.
- Things the government could do to help further.
- What the FTA are now asking for from the government to support the industry.
As it stands, the key advice from the government has not changed. Unless essential, society must stay at home. By doing this we reduce the spread of Coronavirus, and potentially save lives. We need to keep on-top of handwashing and make sure we do not come into contact with people outside of our household. All key workers, delivery drivers included, should take every precaution to keep themselves safe, as should their employers.
Key workers are truly putting their health, and potentially their lives on the line to keep the country going. Important services are still running, and supplies are reaching their destinations. The Connexas Group will work to support our colleagues and customers conducting essential, and life-saving work. To ensure transport and haulage can cope, and run efficiently, we are working so our telematics assists and streamlines transport operations through this time.