Monday, November 12, 2018

New Initiative by Major Freight Group to Address Road Haulage Driver Crisis

Flexible Role Employment Scheme Aimed at European Wide Shortage
Shipping News Feature
GERMANY – EUROPE – It seems the shortage of HGV drivers in the UK road haulage sector, a situation where the average driver was born over 50 years ago and an estimated 45,000 staff are required, is also blighting other parts of Europe. If the road freight sector fails to make good the shortfall as more workers retire from the industry this will lead to rising costs as wages and rates rocket, and logistics will suffer with suitable available vehicles harder to come by on a day to day basis.

In Germany the role of the truck driver has historically been seen in a different light to that of his British counterpart, more of a profession than just a job. Now it seems DHL Freight have recently been taking steps to address the problem of attracting more men and women to the role with a new driver recruitment initiative to counter the problem.

The initial pilot programme aims to offer a project at five locations that provides long-term career prospects, modified job profiles offering more varied work, and ultimately make it easier to absorb peaks at busy times. To get the project off the ground around 30 new jobs were initially created at the German DHL Freight branches in Maintal, Malsfeld, Koblenz, Sehlem and Erfurt in the spring of 2018.

The new employees take on driving duties to complement existing transport capacities and, if necessary, also take on other tasks at the DHL facilities. Particularly during the peak season, they will be out on the road covering the first-mile and last-mile legs of deliveries for their particular branches. If the concept proves successful, DHL Freight would like to create up to 500 new jobs in Europe.

As part of the initiative, new trucks with a load capacity of 12 tonnes will also be added to the fleet, in order to provide drivers with state-of-the-art equipment and ensure sufficient transport capacity even in peak season. In addition to various safety technologies, each of the the new vehicles will be equipped with a 'turning assistant'. These devices monitor opposing traffic when turning at low speeds particularly at busy junctions, braking the truck if necessary. As part of the GoGreen environmental program, solar mats developed by the DP DHL group's own start-up TRAILAR will also be fitted to the roofs of the vehicles.

These will power a range of on-board systems such as liftgates, thus helping to reduce fuel consumption by up to 5%. In the medium term, Deutsche Post DHL Group aims to improve CO2 efficiency by 50% by 2025, as compared to 2007. The aim is to reduce emissions of local air pollutants by making 70% of deliveries using clean delivery and pick-up concepts.

The new driver initiative provides for a rotating deployment, whereby the new employees will not be continuously utilised as drivers. During peak periods, they will absorb capacity bottlenecks on the roads. During quieter periods, they will be employed in the transhipment warehouse. New drivers will be remunerated on the basis of current collective agreements. Uwe Brinks, CEO DHL Freight, explains:

"Our industry is currently being driven by an ever-increasing demand for transport, not least because of the continued strong growth in e-commerce. While we have sufficient loading capacity, we are noticing an increasingly urgent shortage of drivers. We have now adopted a far-sighted approach to addressing this problem with our driver recruitment initiative, which is aimed at ensuring that we can continue to provide our customers with the certainty and service they have come to expect from us. At peak times, such as before Christmas, we record particularly high volumes of items. The aim of the initiative is to expand our human resources and physical capacity in order to efficiently absorb these volume increases."