Milestone Industry News


HGV Restrictions in London

24th July 2013

Freight deliveries are essential for cities, goods need to be delivered, waste removed, building materials to be moved. However the size of the vehicles mean they contribute to congestion, cause air pollution, and pose risks to vulnerable road users such as cyclists. Many cities as a result have imposed restrictions on the movement of HGVs during the night, and/or peak times. The limitations mean that HGVs then dominate the roads at other times.

London has had in place the London Lorry Control Scheme (LLCS) since 1986, which currently bans vehicles over 18 tonnes from much of Greater London between 9pm and 7am Monday to Saturday, and 1pm Saturday through till 7am Monday. As a result, HGVs are out in force during the morning peak time.

Following the recent report by the Roads Task Force (RTF), London is looking to ban HGVs from the city during peak times, but allowing more flexibility during the night time by reducing the number of hours they are banned during, or removing the night time ban altogether. FTA’s Natalie Chapman is in support of such an action, ‘Too many deliveries are forced into the morning peak, due to constraints of night time delivery curfews. We need to make better use of London’s road space though-out the day and night’, (Motor Transport, July 2013).

The LLCS was put in place to protect Londoners against the disturbance caused by lorries late at night and at weekends, so to reduce noise pollution at antisocial times by eliminating through traffic. A review of the scheme has been long over-due, London as a City is constantly evolving and therefore so is its requirements. The value of freight moved per annum on London’s roads is £200bn (RTF, July 2013), this is likely only to increase with the expanding population.

The focus of restrictions on HGVs has largely been associated with the promotion of cycling as a primary method of transport – particularly by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London. Lorries make up roughly 5% of traffic in London, yet they are responsible for almost half of cyclist fatalities (Cycling Weekly, April 2013). Construction HGVs are most often linked to cyclist fatalities as they are not subject to rigorous mirror requirements unlike commercial HGVs.

London has already demonstrated the ability to cope with road restriction measures during the 2012 London Olympics. A restriction during peak times would certainly impact businesses, but a lift on the ban of night time deliveries would off-set some of repercussions. TfL plans to commence additional out of hours trials in challenging delivery areas within London this year, in a bid to build on the industry’s Olympics work around night time deliveries. The intention is to add to the existing portfolio of evidence that operators can deliver at night time without an onerous impact on local residents.

The debate on the presence of HGVs in major cities has always been a hot topic, the fact is though that a city such as London would grind to a halt if goods were no longer delivered, and waste not removed. The focus of the argument should be - how can HGVs co-exist with other road-users, not how can we get rid of them.


The Sun is out and so are the HGVs! Seasonal Trends in Logistics…

12th July 2013

The Logistics Industry caters for all industries which require a physical supply chain. As a result of this, the logistics industry is at the mercy of a great number of factors. Arguably, the biggest influencers of these are the weather, and the retail industry. Milestone as a logistics recruitment agency has to account for these seasonal trends when providing drivers, warehouse staff, and office staff. It is with this insight that we discuss seasonal trends in logistics and how to manage them. Getting the required products to the right place at the right time is a constant pressure for logistics companies, and one which they need to be successful at to maintain their business. Added to that pressure there are infrastructure constraints, tight capacity, high fuel prices, and driver shortages. In a stable environment this could be seen as manageable – but in an environment where there are constantly changing demands, it becomes far more difficult.

The logistics industry is subject to strong seasonal trends. Milestone’s resident recruiter, Tomasz Wypych tells us ‘the Christmas rush for us starts from the middle of October and stops around the middle of December. It’s very quiet in January, and picks up again for Easter time, end of February until about 1 week before Easter. Again it gets busy again starting from May for the summer time through till August.’ Christmas is the busiest time of year for hauliers and a high percentage of the years’ revenue is earned during a short period of time.

Seasonal trends are present in the logistics industry due to the other industries that it serves. The retail industry is a significant client for hauliers, and they have clear Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter products. The food industry also shows seasonal trends, for example, UK grown fruit and vegetables from Spring through till the end of Summer. Both these industries, Retail and Food, can either prosper or fail as a result of the weather.

The impact of the weather on economics is enormous - good weather results in busy times for HGV drivers and the logistics industry as consumer demand rises. Bad weather creates difficult conditions for hauliers to deliver in. Adverse weather conditions can delay deliveries, or even make them impossible. In poor weather consumers are also less likely to go out shopping. A lot of manufacturers/retailers operate a ‘just-in-time’ supply chain approach which can be an advantage as well as a disadvantage. Lean operation models are more likely to suffer from adverse weather conditions – having low stock levels, but also more likely to respond faster to peaks in demand with a flexible logistics chain.

Something that allows consumers to get around bad weather when it comes to purchasing is online shopping. This, however, has seen a rise in the number of multi-drop deliveries. These multi-drops see far smaller deliveries but with a far higher number of ‘drops’. Britons are the biggest online shoppers in the developed world, with almost two-thirds of adults using the internet to buy goods or services (The Telegraph, February 2012). Problem-free delivery for online shopping is key for repeat purchases, therefore the pressure is on with the logistics supplier.

Logistics, by nature, is an unpredictable industry which can be frustrating for both agencies and drivers. Contingency planning is a highly effective strategy, particularly for the Christmas season – the summer season however is a lot more unpredictable as it depends on the weather for demand levels. Early communication between vendors and hauliers can help the logistics side prepare as best they can with the most up to date forecast levels. For recruitment agencies, such as Milestone Operations, recruitment for drivers before a busy period will begin up to 8 weeks in advance prior to the extra demand levels. Of course no amount of planning ensures fool-proof roll-outs, but it certainly means that the industry is better prepared, and more flexible for when the unexpected occurs.