Monday, June 17, 2019

Forget Brexit - the Freight and Logistics Sector Has More to Consider at Multimodal 2019

Shipping and Supply Chain Event to Address Industry Training and Recruitment and More
Shipping News Feature
UK – Just over a year ago we published a guest opinion by Andrew Thorne of freight and logistics consultants KTF Stone, in which he examined discussions at Multimodal 2018 with regard to Britain's imminent exit from the EU. At the time all parties in the sector felt the matter had dragged on far too long. What they will feel now, on the eve of the 2019 event, can only be imagined.

At the time, and subsequently, leading bodies from the industry such as the British International Freight Association (BIFA) and the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) voiced clear opinions on their views of the dilemma, and the cry for politicians to turn to the profession for assistance in resolving the relevant issues was a united one.

Now, over a year on, nothing is resolved, and the general view of the political class has diminished to a state where they are virtually all regarded as self- serving incompetents, unable or unwilling to do the bidding of the electorate. For the freight industry however the show must go on, and so it will, quite literally this week at the NEC for Britain and Ireland’s premier logistics exposition, Multimodal 2019.

Discussions on Brexit will not however take a central role at the supply chain event one suspects this year, all present will have doubtless said what they feel on the subject more than once in the past twelve months and more, so we must hope that the talk is positive and this seems likely given the tone of news leading up to the event.

For the UKWA this will be very significant year as, like the recent D Day celebrations, it is 75 years since the warehousemen of Britain formed their own Association to assist the supply chain function efficiently in a country torn by almost 5 years of war. The UKWA Pavilion is always a welcoming place, divided as it is into the smaller stands of those with a specific role in that essential part of the profession.

BIFA meanwhile will have a significant presence, with staff from the secretariat as well as its regional consultants all being on the trade association’s exhibition booth at the event. As ever, BIFA will use the opportunity to outline some of the important work that it is carrying out on behalf of its members that are facing significant challenges to their provision of freight forwarding services for international trade, at present.

Both BIFA and the UKWA will take centre stage in some of the seminars and general debates which form an essential part of the three days, and lift the occasion above the level of a normal trade show. So it is therefore that Robert Keen, BIFA Director General, says that whilst issues surrounding the ongoing Brexit saga are still likely to be talking points at Multimodal 2019, there will be plenty of other matters about which BIFA members are concerned, and on which the trade association is working hard. He observed:

“Driver shortages are playing out in higher input costs and threats to the longer term stability of the market. Ongoing e-commerce growth is leading to volatility for all operators in the Last Mile sector. Fuel costs remain a continuing risk of doing business in the logistics industry, and the last year saw significant rises in the cost of fuel as well as tolls, which has squeezed margins for our members that are active in the European trailer services sector.

”The shipping sector is considering how it will handle the low sulphur fuel regulations which are due to be imposed on the industry in 2020, and it would appear that their plans will lead to spikes in rates. I’m sure that all of the above issues, and many more, will be in the thoughts of visitors to Multimodal 2019 and our members will want to know what actions BIFA is pursuing on their behalf.”

“Multimodal 2019 gives BIFA a great platform to demonstrate that, and we encourage Multimodal 2019 participants to visit our stand to find out more about what BIFA is doing to resolve issues faced by the UK freight industry.”

Two of the buzzwords at this year’s Multimodal are likely to be training and recruitment. With a plethora of courses available, online as well as conventionally situated, both of the above organisations, plus other bodies such as the Freight Transport Association (FTA) and the Road Haulage Association (RHA), will be keen to publicise their own expertise in their specific sectors in that regard.

Carl Hobbis, BIFA training development manager will be chairing a seminar that specifically addressed the issues involved in attracting, retaining and developing talent in transport, logistics and the supply chain. He commented:

“In addition to the seminar, we will also be promoting the BIFA Young Forwarder Network, which we launched earlier this year during National Careers Week 2019. The YFN is open to all; apprentices, graduates, anyone new to the industry or young forwarders, who just want to network and learn new skills.

”Consisting of several regional networking groups, the YFN provides members with the chance to network with their peers, learn from industry professionals and boost their continuous professional development at the same time. Each networking group is run by young forwarders and designed to help early talent and young BIFA members develop their knowledge but in a more social environment.

“We will also be using the event to further promote and encourage the take-up of the international freight forwarding specialist apprenticeship, which became available in 2018, in which BIFA played a lead role. I would encourage all visitors to come along to the BIFA stand at Multimodal 2019 and find out about the YFN and how you can get involved in our ever increasing range of training courses, as well as the International Freight Forwarding specialist apprenticeship.”

Photo: At Multimodal there is always a display of hardware with trucks, rail wagons, trailers and forklifts on show as well as the chance to network and see what else is on offer, from packing tape to courier services.