Supply chain crisis: it’s time to review delivery frequency and unlock backhaul opportunities

Rob Wright, executive director of supply chain and logistics consultancy SCALA, on the supply chain crisis 

“The HGV driver shortage issue, which has dominated the industry over the past few months, shows worryingly few signs of slowing down, with major retailers having to cancel deliveries for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. Even if the crisis should be resolved in the short term, Christmas is going to be challenging, being a time when both new drivers and vehicles are required to service all the extra demand in the build-up to the festive period.

“If we are to avoid crippling stock shortages as we approach the Christmas period, now is the time for greater collaboration to optimise UK transport, hereby reducing the demand on drivers and minimising trucks and carbon emissions. It is vital that retailers lead greater vertical collaboration between manufacturers, their customers and suppliers.

“Companies should be talking to their customers and suppliers about how transport can be optimised to protect service and reduce truck and driver journeys. Now is the time to review delivery frequency and order size, unlock backhaul opportunities and remove empty trucks from UK roads.

“As well as vertical collaboration, businesses should also look at the more challenging horizontal collaboration in which companies can work together across the category by sharing trucks and resources.

“We have found it is often the case that a company’s best collaborative partner is perhaps its competitor, as they face the same challenges, share the same customers and often the same suppliers.

“In addition, businesses need to be re-assessing their fleets, for example, more companies can make use of double deck trailers significantly increasing the number of pallets that can be carried in each shipment and subsequently reducing the number of trucks required.”