There have been two significant findings from Paragon Software Systems’ annual UK customer survey. The first: integrated technology systems are being used ever more frequently in the courier industry to overcome various business pressures. The second: the transport sector is still struggling to recruit new drivers, and the skill shortage is now the biggest challenge that the industry is facing. |
A Growing Concern
Delivery businesses have been struggling to recruit for the last three years. Statistics from the survey show that since 2017, there has been a significant 62% increase in respondents stating that the lack of drivers is impacting their business. This year, over half of the respondents (55%) agreed to the statement, whereas in 2018 the figure was slightly lower at 46%.
Some other issues were highlighted in the survey, and drivers were asked whether these factors were of concern. Some 13% agreed that transport costs were an issue and 12% saw the Brexit debate as a contributing factor. Urban transport restrictions were less of a concern, at 7%.
Technologies to the Rescue
Although there are still industry concerns, it has been found that many courier drivers are looking to telematics and other technological planning systems to overcome these problems. Nearly all respondents (97%) claimed to use some kind of telematics solution, whether it was to plan and schedule timings or simply map out delivery routes.
The most common technology systems in use at the moment are vehicle tracking (95% of fleets use this) and proof of delivery (over half use this). Other solutions include various workforce management applications, vehicle cameras using 4G and live temperature monitoring. Courier companies and owner drivers using these kinds of resources are able to benefit from real-time performance data, allowing them to figure out the best ways to run their businesses and make their operations more efficient.
Many businesses have chosen to invest in new telematics systems as a result of industry pressures. The survey showed that some of the biggest transport planning pressures came from customers – these included the demand for more accurate delivery time windows as well as more frequent communications and proof of delivery. Other pressures such as the need to maximise the utilisation of available drivers has also had an effect.
The courier industry continues to evolve as customer demands become more challenging and technologies become more reliable. The Managing Director of Paragon Software Systems, William Salter, stated that the survey’s results “suggest the road transport sector faces another tough year, with a number of continuing challenges that are compounded by the current economic and political uncertainty.”
There is hope that integrated technology solutions will eventually result in better customer communications, resource utilisation and real-time fleet visibility, but with various uncertainties still looming, only time will tell.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier work in the express freight exchange industry. Numerous transport exchange businesses are networked together on their website, trading jobs and capacity through what is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange company in the UK.
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