The Road Haulage Association (RHA) estimates there is a shortage of approximately 100,000 drivers in the UK at present. The shortages are impacting the availability of goods in the market, confidence in the retail sector and the entire supply chain. Many EU drivers exited the UK following Brexit and returned home post-pandemic.

The availability of HGV drivers in the UK is also on the decline, coupled with the dilemma that many UK drivers are over 50 years old and are likely to retire in the next few years. In fact, the RHA predicts that a third of the 380,000 drivers in the UK will retire in the next five years. This creates a fresh challenge of attracting new HGV drivers to the sector.

This article investigates the three challenges facing the sector and how modern technology and partnerships, with specialists Symec and SOTI, can help.

1. The Recruitment Merry-Go-Round

From a driver recruitment perspective, apprenticeship schemes are picking up, with huge demand at the Portbury Warehouse for Wincanton, for example. Under the scheme the apprentices learn the ropes whilst Wincanton funds their HGV driver training and all their required tests to get the licence. Wincanton currently has 600 driver vacancies and also has an internal current staff for an internal fast track scheme, to help fill this void of talent.

“A lot of the movement in the industry recently has been just moving the same driver population around different companies, so we want to focus on trying to stop that merry-go-round and increase the driver workforce overall,” says Jo Pick, People Director for Operations, Wincanton.

2. Modern Technology is an Essential Tool

Providing HGV drivers with the right tools for their role may comprise of a steady list of essentials that has not changed over the past 20 to 30 years. This list fulfils basic driver safety needs and organisations need to look at effective ways to attract drivers to the sector.

In today’s digital world, a lorry driver will expect to complete vehicle checks themselves, have access to a tablet with a digitised list of jobs for the day and an efficient way to report any issues prior to hitting the road. They also expect access to embedded customer forms for signatures to complete delivery jobs.

“Tablets with digital workflows are the norm. Taking APM as an example, this illustrates how paper-based workflows reduces driver time wasted prior to getting on the road, as well as to ensure maximum safety of each driver before starting their shift. Digital vehicle checks and uploading photos of any queries to the support team prior to setting off provides a clear audit trail of any vehicle and driver queries and agreed resolutions.” says Sarah Edge, UK Sales Director at SOTI.

3. Driver Security and Enhanced Protection

Long hours driving alone can enhance the need to feel connected and secure. Driver security extends beyond the physical security and awareness a driver needs for self-protection when on the road.

“With the onset of more technology for the HGV sector, access to websites and use of data via company owned or BYOD tablets and smartphones can be limited to secure websites to protect organisation networks via Kiosk Mode. We use this feature a lot with our customer base and this profile configuration for each group of devices provides a customisable interface and ensures the device user has access to authorised applications and websites only.” Keith Lavelle, Head of Digital Marketing at Symec

Equally, being able to remotely manage devices and push out notifications and software updates to drivers in the field keeps all remote devices up to date and each driver connected. Likewise, with drivers legally allowed to work a maximum of 90 hours over two weeks (if they work 56 hours one week, then the following week is a maximum of 34 weeks in the UK) it is imperative that, for driver safety, an organisation has the ability and a responsibility to monitor their workload and use modern digital tools to push out reminders for breaks and rest stops.

Another feature of SOTI for the HGV sector is geofencing. This sets a virtual fence around the region or area the HGV driver is in or heading towards. This means organisations can be assured that secure access to data and services on their tablet or smart device is disabled or enabled only when entering or exiting that specified fenced area. As an example, for some deliveries, it is mandatory that cameras on devices are disabled when entering a delivery area. This geofencing feature will disable cameras on the driver devices entering that fenced area without the need for the driver to remember when this needs to be done. This gives them the reassurance that the organisation they are working for is protecting them from any potential accidental wrongdoing.

Improving efficiencies and transforming operations

Contact us today to find out what a Symec and SOTI partnership can do for you.
  • How do you secure devices and apps?
  • How do you keep up with the demand for apps?
  • How do you gain visibility?
  • How do you support workers and devices?

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