How retailers can avoid empty shelves in response to the HGV driver shortage

As the UK economy starts to recover and returns to a new post-Covid lockdown normality, there is one issue which will not go away and will in fact get worse – the UK HGV driver shortage crisis. Rob Wright, Executive Director of SCALA, discusses how retailers can optimise their supply chains to protect service and reduce truck and driver journeys.

The HGV driver shortage issue coupled with the global need to reduce carbon emissions is a clear indication that it is time for businesses to take a different approach to their logistics management.

Even if the driver shortage issue is resolved in the short term, Q4 is going to be challenging with all the extra demand, plus the shortage of vehicles and trailers at a time when companies usually increase their fleet by 25%.

Now is the time for greater collaboration to optimise UK transport, hereby reducing the demand on drivers and minimising trucks and carbon emissions. It is vital that retailers lead greater vertical collaboration between manufacturers, their customers and suppliers.

Companies should be talking to their customers and suppliers about how transport can be optimised to protect service and reduce truck and driver journeys. Now is the time to review delivery frequency and order size, unlock backhaul opportunities and remove empty trucks from UK roads.

For example, more companies can make use of double deck trailers, which provide two levels of storage capacity, significantly increasing the number of pallets that can be carried in each shipment and subsequently reducing the number of trucks required.

As well as vertical collaboration, businesses should also look at the more challenging horizontal collaboration in which companies can work together across the category by sharing trucks and resources.

We have found it is often the case that a company’s best collaborative partner is perhaps its competitor, as they face the same challenges, share the same customers and often the same suppliers.

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