Following the publishing of our Industry Predictions eBook this week, and given that it is December and therefore customary to make predictions about the state of our transport industry, I thought I would create a blog to consider what will help transport operators in the year ahead.
The backdrop I have to work with is more dynamic than ever with Britain leaving the European Union, President-elect Trump about to take office; and the markets unsure how to react. This is all leading to a healthy dose of uncertainty.
Our own industry is facing significant challenges. According to independent economic forecasts we’re likely to see elevated levels of inflation creeping in and driving up costs for transport businesses – not least at the pump. And with our withdrawal from the EU, we’re also seeing the potential for yet more pressure on recruitment as the pool of available drivers and other skilled transport professionals shrinks.
Despite all of this, indications are that the performance of the transport and logistics sector is good. Truck sales are very healthy. Data from the most recent Department for Transport vehicle licencing report indicates HGV numbers are up 2.2% for the year to September compared with 2015. This is impressive given that 2015 was one of the best years for HGV sales in several years. The percentage annual increase for vans was even higher at 4.5%.
There are many positives to take for the year ahead. Here are a few which will have a demonstrably positive impact in the coming twelve months for transport service providers.
DVSA Earned Recognition – Earned recognition will be a power for good; I have no doubt about that. Upsides will surely be reduced compliance costs and disruption for the best transport service providers; while more intervention and targeted enforcement will bring the worst service providers into line. The result will be significantly less time and money wasted by those who are complying. The DVSA chief executive estimates this will be available to all operators in 2017 who have technology in place to share tachograph and maintenance data with the agency.
Increasingly connected trucks – The “Connected Vehicle” already includes the engine management system, cameras, temperature sensors and tachographs; all of these producing large amounts of data that we capture and turn into valuable resources. In the next twelve months, we will also have a host of other sensors such as asset tags and tyres connected to tractors and trailers, allowing for remote diagnostics and predictive analytics. Even more advanced systems will enable us to deliver greater value to our customers.
More power from Big Data – When large amounts of anonymised data about driving style is combined with information such as weather, incident hotspots, benchmarks and vehicle flow rates, real insight can be realised to improve safety and performance for fleets. It’s all about enabling better understanding of overall performance across different sectors and better risk management of routes.
At the very least, we have the calendar on our side. In China, 2017 will be known as the year of the Rooster and according to various sources, this means it will be the epitome of punctuality. The importance of punctuality to the logistics industry cannot be overstated, so this really is very good news.
I have no doubt that these advances will contribute to a punctual year ahead for transport operators across the UK. We can at least guarantee it will be the most punctual year since 2005 – given that was the last time it was the year of the Rooster!
To wrap up 2016 we’ve asked a host of industry leaders for their thoughts for the year ahead. You can see their opinions neatly packaged in our Transport Industry Predictions eBook.