The logistics industry is facing a driver shortage of between 45,000 – 50,000 workers and if something isn’t done the deficit will only increase. Currently, 2% of employed drivers are under 25 and with the average age of a HGV driver in Britain being 55 there just aren’t enough qualified people filling the holes left by those retiring. Also, only 1% of HGV drivers are female! Which in my opinion is a number that needs industry-wide encouragement to increase. But what is the solution to these issues?
The perception of the average HGV driver’s life on the road has changed somewhat over the years. Gone are the days of the romanticised free spirit of the road. These stereotypes have been replaced by the thoughts of a job that entails sitting in traffic all day and in a layby all night. But this is not the case. Yes, due to the increasing number of vehicles on the British highways, traffic is something to be expected these days however with good transport planning, hopefully, the majority of this can be avoided. The modern HGV driver is a highly skilled professional.
It costs £3,000 to fund the training required to become a qualified HGV driver which is believed to be one of the reasons deterring young drivers from joining the industry. This has to be seen as an investment in a driver’s career which they will more than earn back over time. Another reason possibly scaring off the potential drivers of tomorrow is that many of them believe that the actual driver of tomorrow will be a computer! Although self-driving vehicles do appear to be the ‘future’, that future is a long way off from being a commercial reality. With the years of testing and the laws that will need to be passed, I would imagine that a new driver has nothing to worry about. Even when these new machines come into use the driver’s role will not likely disappear but evolve into one of a managerial position. They will need to be on board to carry out the ‘trickier’ manoeuvres and in case of any onboard malfunctions. The reason for the autonomous truck is not to remove people, but to improve efficiency. If every truck is operating to the exact same specification and parameters you have the most efficient fleet possible…in theory. We have all been guilty of having a ‘heavy foot’ from time to time or getting lost in the radio and having to break harder than we would have liked to. The vehicles of tomorrow won’t have these issues but they will need to be overseen. After all, the last thing we want is a ‘Skynet’ situation on our hands. Many years down the road, Culina Group may have a fully automated fleet but until the tech catches up with the idea and it has proved itself to be safe and reliable, we will continue putting our trust in our team of hard-working human driver’s thank you very much.
As you may well know I have spoken about how important reliable vehicles are to a logistics provider. Tractor units are the literal workhorses of the business, facilitating the safe and timely transports of a client’s stock to its end destination. Whether it be a depot, supermarket or a small distributor your units needs to be dependable or stock won’t be delivered, or worse, you won’t get home! At Culina Group our fleet is our pride and Joy. We currently have 1000+ tractor units and 2000+ trailers (a mix of both chilled and ambient) and have made it the ‘greenest’ fleet we possibly can.
Over 600+ tractor units in the group are Euro 6 standard and 500+ of those have ‘Step C’ engines, with the remainder to switch in the coming months. All of our vehicles run on high specification tyres to minimise rolling resistance, maximise fuel economy and to ensure that we are doing everything we can to lower our CO2 footprint.
We make a commitment to have the best vehicles possible to meet our client’s needs, whilst being as efficient and as easy for our drivers to operate as possible. In order to do this, we replace each unit before it is 2 years old. That means that our drivers have the highest spec equipment available at all times. As important as the needs of our clients are, and our effect on the environment is, if the vehicle is not ergonomic and was awkward to operate as possible we would have 1200+ unhappy drivers on our books. If you are on the road for ‘X’ amount of hours a day the last thing you want is to be in a stuffy and uncomfortable truck. I know I wouldn’t.
We provide drivers with the best support system we can to enable them to perform their jobs safe in the knowledge that we have their backs. We have a great team of planners picking the most efficient routes, a 24hr helpline for all driver issues and full breakdown cover in case the worst happens. So even though being a HGV driver means having your independence on a daily basis out on the open road, we give our drivers peace of mind that we are here if and when they need us whatever the issue.
All of our staff members are important to our business and its smooth operation, but without driver’s, a client’s product wouldn’t reach its destination and the work that everyone before them had done would be rendered pointless. To recognise this, many of the Culina Group sites celebrate not only their ‘Employee of the Month’ but also their ‘Driver of the Month’ with site recognition and congratulatory gifts.
We hire the best drivers to deliver our clients stock and the statistics don’t lie. Earlier this year Culina Group received the Microlise Award for Consistency for having more drivers in the top 100 than any other company. In 2017 one of our Hoddesdon drivers Michael Young won the Microlise Short Distance Driver of The Year. We are the leading force in the FMCG marketplace because we hire the best in the business.