Learning Zone

6 challenges facing the transport industry

By Lily Hartley
20 July 2021

Over the past few years, the transport industry has had to manage Covid-19, Brexit, electrification, rising costs and new legislation, and yet the challenges keep on coming.

We look at the major issues facing the transport and fleet industries in the next year – and crucially, what you can do to manage them and help your business thrive.

1. Understanding the on-going impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly impacted the transport and logistics sector. Vans and HGV activity levels were lower over the past year, while in 2021 the reduction of lockdown severity and the reshaping of the way people work, shop and spend leisure time has resulted in some big opportunities for sectors such as home food ordering and goods delivery services.

The reduction in mileages and home working has allowed fleets to reallocate vehicles and reduce numbers, but it has also increased pressure on day-to-day operations. The need for more commercial vehicles and drivers is pressing, yet there are shortages of both.

2. Managing fleet management costs

Reducing fleet management costs will be a key challenge this year. With usage profiles changing post-pandemic, there are opportunities to ensure you are sourcing fleet vehicles in the most cost-effective way. Funding terms are a good place to start. After all you don’t want to be paying for something you don’t use.

Then there’s cashflow. With many suppliers changing, banks increasingly risk averse and employees off furlough, the Confederation of British Industry says cashflow will be a major challenge for many businesses and so running your fleet as cost-effectively as possible will be vitally important to this.

Increasing digitisation means that fleets are increasingly looking at systems that give them real-time insight into their operations, wherever they are, through agile, cloud-based systems. Streamlining fleet management using technology saves time, money and administration, allowing fleets to be run more efficiently and proactively than ever before.

See here for more information on managing your transport fleet.

3. Reducing fuel costs

Fuel costs are on the rise. The latest Government figures show that diesel is now nearly 21p per litre more expensive than a year ago – albeit when prices were historically low. But the fact remains that prices have been steadily increasing for the past six months and, as a result, fleets will need to refocus on an area that has been lower down the ‘to-do’ list in the past 12 months.

That means using data to see which vehicles and drivers are more efficient, putting in place systems to buy fuel more cost effectively and having a rigorous process to keep vans and trucks maintained so they use less fuel.

4. Improving the productivity of your employees and fleet

One of the issues of the turbulent past year is understanding how effective a business is in terms of productivity. With workers often based from home and spending less time in offices, or checking into depots less regularly, you are going to have to spend more time analysing how productive employees, departments and various services are.

For fleets, this means recording mileages and driver hours accurately, scheduling jobs and routing efficiently and reducing downtime, measuring and then managing all these areas more closely to ensure you are operating as productively as possible.

Connectivity is key to all of this. You can read our blog on this here.

5. Making SMR more effective

Managing service, maintenance and repair (SMR) better will be a major challenge for many fleets in the next few months. Getting hold of certain parts post-Brexit has been a problem and there is a global shortage of semi-conductors too, which is slowing some maintenance and repair jobs.

With a shortage of vehicle technicians in workshops as well, to avoid long delays and minimise downtime, fleets need to use technology and data to analyse SMR issues and trends.

By understanding the condition and mileage of every vehicle, service and maintenance work can be booked ahead, avoiding unnecessary delays, while daily vehicle inspections by drivers or managers can spot potential problems early.

Find out more about how fleet management data can manage SMR here.

6. Keeping up with legislation

Keeping up with the introduction of legislation is an ever-present challenge for fleets. In the next year one of the principal ones will be managing vehicles in Clean Air Zones. In the UK, a number have already been introduced this year, such as Bath and Birmingham, with others in Oxford, Bristol and Portsmouth coming soon. And the London Ultra Low Emission Zone is set for expansion too.

The costs for entering each of these Clean Air Zones varies, but for some non-compliant vehicles, the charge can be as high as £100 per day. Understanding which vehicles are compliant, and then re-allocating and re-routing those that are not will be a major task for many fleets.

You can find the state of play with all CAZs here.

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