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One of the great attractions of working in the transport and logistics industry is that no two days are ever the same. Varying clients with different objectives and perspectives, fluctuating demand and even something as simple as the UK’s road network all add up to a profession which demands flexibility and adaptability.

With seasonal peaks driving over 27% of business revenue in the UK, it is essential for any transport and logistics business to ensure adequate systems are in place in order to enable their entire fleet to remain fully operational at peak times. As you well know, this year’s winter peak is fast approaching, and we want to help prepare you for this to keep your fleets operational because if the wheels aren’t moving, you’re not making money.

In the current climate, with Brexit threatening to limit the availability of driving staff from Eastern European states and elsewhere, the necessity to devise an effective plan to address these issues is arguably more acute than ever. Fortunately, there are number of common-sense strategies which will go a long way towards ensuring maximising efficiency during the winter peak and hence maximising asset utilisation. These include;

Ensuring that fleets are compliant and have reliable breakdown, repairs and servicing cover in advance

During the winter months, haulage vehicles can be susceptible to the damaging effects of cold weather. Additionally, adverse driving conditions such as icy roads or compromised visibility increase the importance of ensuring that all vehicles are functioning correctly in all respects. This is compounded by the fact that trucks are likely to cover more miles during the winter peak. Consider implementing extra vehicle checks, and schedule servicing well in advance of periods of high demand so that when you need your entire fleet most, its prepared, compliant and ready to be used.

Implementing a failsafe system for keeping vehicle servicing and MOTs up to date

When scheduling servicing as mentioned above, timing is key. Ideally, a service will take place when a vehicle is not needed on the road. While difficult, this can be accomplished if servicing and MOT tests are pre-arranged well in advance.

Additionally, consider drawing up a spreadsheet to organise services/testing. Once this is in place, set up automated reminders in order to ensure that all work is carried out accordingly. Do everything within your powers to conduct these checks before the winter peak so that there is no need for the wheels to not be in motion.

Partner with an effective driver agency

Recruitment is both costly and time-consuming, and during peak times it is often unviable for in-house staff to recruit drivers as effectively as they might during quieter times of the year. By working alongside an effective driver agency, transport companies can benefit from the flexibility to increase their workforce according to demand without the associated costs and workload of hiring drivers directly. Plus as we know, you may only need additional drivers throughout the winter peak, so it’s far quicker, easier and simpler to use an agency during this period.

With branches all over the UK, StaffCo direct can provide additional drivers as required. This will help to overcome some of the challenges associated with working time directive, and will enable your business to maximise fleet utilisation by ensuring that there is always a driver available for each and every vehicle in your fleet at all times.

Taking steps to accurately forecast work

While nobody can predict demand levels with absolute certainty, modern data analysis technology has enabled today’s logistics and transport industry to forecast demand more accurately than ever before. In order to benefit from this, keep detailed records which can be readily accessed and assessed.

Combined with other relevant data such as economic figures or market analysis, this will enable transport/fleet managers to plan effectively and minimise understaffing.

Final thoughts

In essence, maintaining a fully functional fleet of vehicles and a sufficient workforce is part and parcel of running a stable — not to mention prosperous — transport and logistics business.

After all, reliability is probably the major attribute businesses look for in a logistics partner. If clients have been disappointed with your service due to staffing issues resulting in delayed deliveries, it could only be a matter of time before they decide take their business elsewhere.

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