Monday, October 8, 2012

Scottish Logistics Report Studies Supply Chain and Multimodal Freight Trends

FTA Publishes Findings at Glasgow Conference
Shipping News Feature

UK – The Scottish Supply Chain Conference, held recently in Glasgow saw the publication of a report on the state of logistics in Scotland by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) in conjunction with leading law firm DWF-Biggart Baillie. The Scottish Logistics Report which examines if the country’s multi modal supply chains are fit for purpose was commissioned by FTA’s Scottish Supply Chain Forum (SSCF) the industry’s representational body in Scotland, which includes stakeholders of all parties to the supply chain, including shippers, logistics service providers, road and rail haulage operators, air and water carriers, infrastructure and facility providers and non-governmental organisations.

The report enlisted the expert help of Professor Alan McKinnon, of Kuhne University, Hamburg, and Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh who analyses freight transport trends in Scotland, the road, rail and air freight sectors, container shipping and roll-on roll-off ferry traffic, distribution centre development, carbon emissions from freight traffic originating in Scotland and the involvement of freight vehicles in traffic accidents. Chris MacRae, FTA’s Head of Policy for Scotland said:

“This report highlights Scotland’s logistical inter-dependence with other parts of the UK, Europe and the world. In the modern world and in a modern economy, supply chains do not exist in isolation – there is always an international aspect.”

The report covers many different aspects of logistics operations in Scotland and highlights several notable developments, including a significant decoupling of economic growth and freight tonne/km trends, suggesting that the freight transport intensity of the Scottish economy is diminishing. It shows that Scotland’s freight modal split has changed only marginally despite government efforts to promote the use of rail and waterborne services and there remain serious imbalances in freight traffic flows to and from Scotland across all transport modes. This undoubtedly inhibits the development of direct freight services to and from the country.

The report indicates that the HGV share of Scotland’s road traffic remained fairly stable at six per cent, while van traffic increased its share from 12 per cent to 14 per cent and that the number of road freight operators registered in Scotland dropped by a fifth, though the haulage industry remains highly fragmented with the average fleet comprising only 4.5 lorries.

There has been a sharp increase in the amount of containerised traffic passing through Scottish ports, partly as a consequence of the boom in Scotch whisky exports and substantial growth of roll-on roll-off traffic using Scottish ports, mainly on the Northern Irish routes whilst the volumes of RoRo traffic on the Rosyth-Zeebrugge route have fallen well below their peak and are below the levels required for long term viability.

With regard to the air freight sector the off-shoring of electronics production has led to a sharp drop in the amount of air freight tonnage handled by Scottish airports whilst the composition and geographical distribution of Scotland’s air freight has radically altered, with the proportion of mail rising from 35% to 57% and Edinburgh capturing a larger share of the remaining air freight traffic than Prestwick and Glasgow combined.

The report also concludes that whilst there was a steep reduction in the involvement of HGV’s and vans in road accidents and in the number of related casualties and CO2 emissions from freight movements originating in Scotland remained fairly stable until 2009 when the recession reduced the level of freight transport activity and cut emissions by around 14% there are still serious matters to be addressed.

Scotland attracted only around three per cent of the new UK floor space in distribution centres of over 10,000 square metres between 1995 and 2011. The recent decision by Amazon to locate its largest European distribution centre in Scotland suggests that the country could perhaps do more to exploit its regional advantages as a base for distribution operations.

The report enables the SSCF to appraise the situation in the country and focus on the areas which it needs to concentrate on both within its membership and with other supply chain stakeholders and also with local and national government.