It started with shortages to Nando’s chicken, followed by McDonald’s milkshakes, then Ikea mattresses, and now petrol stations are being forced to temporarily close due to supply chain issues.
But what is causing this crisis and what is the solution?
Well, the examples above all have one thing in common – they require HGV drivers.
This situation didn’t occur overnight, it’s been more than two years in the making. There is currently an estimated shortage of around 100,000 lorry drivers in Britain. Around 25,000 drivers left for the EU after Brexit and there are around 40,000 drivers who are on a waiting list to take their HGV licence after tests were postponed due to Covid.
Believe it or not, there’s also potential for further driver shortages in future, with a lack of younger people opting for a career in haulage according to the Road Haulage Association (RHA). Rod McKenzie, Managing Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the RHA, said “The average age of a truck driver in the UK is 57, every day this problem is just getting worse as more and more retire.”
Many people will ask if the issue had been known, then why the risks were not mitigated?
This is where Rose Partners speciality lies. We leverage our experience in securing supply chains to identify any potential weaknesses in a client’s system.
We work closely with our extensive network of global contacts in government and commercial organisations to ensure collaboration and best practices with third-party logistics. This in turn allows us to provide a truly end-to-end security solution for the value chain.
So what can the industry do now?
The British government has urged people not to panic-buy, however, for many, this is only compounding the problem by highlighting the potential for consumer disruption. Similar to the toilet roll shortage in March 2020, long queues formed on petrol forecourts last weekend as demand exceeded the supply.
Army drivers have been put on standby to increase the workforce, however additional training is required before they can become fully operational, so this will not immediately resolve any issues.
Ultimately, there’s no magic solution to the crisis, but there are a number of options that can be considered by suppliers to help alleviate the issues:
Distribution: reallocating deliveries of petrol to ensure an even distribution across the UK.
Communication: encouraging drivers to leave at least a quarter of a tank in case they need to travel further to an operational station.
Lobbying: if the Government change the visa and immigration rules for HGV drivers it may help to recoup some of the truckers who emigrated after Brexit
What about the future?
There’s a genuine concern that despite the reactive measures being brought in, the shortfall of drivers might not be cleared until spring next year. This could have major implications for the Christmas food, trees and turkey markets.
The end consumer will also likely see price rises, due to the supply and demand of wages. Some retailers are already offering £1,000 signing-on bonuses for drivers and this increase in labour costs will be passed down the supply chain.
But more than ever before, retailers must invest in risk management to their supply chain security and any potential issues need to be mitigated to prevent a future crisis from occurring.
If you’re part of the industry and would like a free consultation, please speak to one of the Rose Partners’ team today. Our supply-chain security consultants have comprehensive experience in securing the value chain, transport and logistics system of cargo and the processes that support them.