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"End suboptimisation"

The driver shortage is a huge problem for the logistics sector and affects all parts of the supply chain. The result? Delays, disruptions, shortages, price increases and finally empty shelves. How are we coping with the lack of drivers? Paul van de Vorle, Director Business Development at Van den Bosch, addresses this issue in his latest column.

Every year, the number of drivers retiring exceeds the number of new ones starting. But it's not just a greying workforce that’s causing the driver shortage. The appeal of the driving profession among young people and competition from parcel services also play their part. Add to that the increased demand for raw materials and the Ukraine crisis, and it’s clear: alarm bells are ringing.

Disruption of loading and unloading processes 
The European Chemical Transport Association (ECTA) recently wrote a Position Paper on this. What is making matters worse, according to ECTA, is the disruption of loading and unloading processes. Drivers are confronted with long waiting times at loading and unloading locations. No less than thirty percent of chemical transports exceed the maximum residence time (time that the driver is present at the location) of three hours. That not only causes further disruption - it’s also incredibly frustrating. In fact, unnecessary waiting time appears to be the main reason for drivers to quit their job.

One-sided approach
ECTA is noticing suboptimisation at many loading and unloading locations. This one-sided approach has been at the expense of flexibility, driver productivity and job satisfaction. ECTA is calling for immediate action to deal with the disrupted loading and unloading processes. I couldn't agree more. We can no longer afford a one-sided approach; not only within the chemical industry, but certainly also within the food sector.

Integral supply chain
End suboptimisation. It's time to look at the integral supply chain and to seek solutions together. For years we have been looking at our own process and how to improve it. An example is timeslot loading, which has been at the expense of flexibility. ECTA is calling for wider time slots and the extension of opening hours of loading and unloading locations. The creation of (bigger) stocks at these locations will also increase flexibility.

On-site logistics offers opportunities
I also see great opportunities for on-site logistics, where we will disconnect the loading and unloading process from the transport. Drop & Collect, but then in bulk logistics. The driver uncouples and an on-site coordinator takes care of the loading or unloading at a suitable time. This also allows us to accommodate disruptions, because no matter how long the time slots are, disruption can make planning quite impossible. It is up to the carrier to set up the on-site concepts together with the shipper and possibly other carriers.

Looking after each other
In the meantime, the driver is doing what he or she prefers to do: driving. With on-site concepts, we can let drivers be drivers again, increase productivity and make the profession more attractive. Regarding the latter, carriers and shippers also have an important role to play. ECTA has called for this in its report: treat drivers with more respect. This is an appeal to all of us. If we treat drivers as the valuable link in the supply chain that they are and facilitate them where possible, I believe we will close the circle.

"We can no longer afford a one-sided approach"
Paul van de Vorle, Director Business Development

Also read:
Capacity can no longer be taken for granted
Continuing on the present road is no longer an option

Would you like to receive new insights?

At Van den Bosch, we are happy to share our experience to improve the world of bulk logistics together. Please feel free to contact us with any challenge, question or request.

“I get an enormous kick when we succeed in finding new ways to optimise our clients’ supply chains”

Van den Bosch Paul van de Vorle – Director Business Development