Ministry plates going paperless – make your voice heard

Ministry plates going paperless – make your voice heard

23.4.2024 | Haulage

Ministry plates going paperless – make your voice heard

The DVSA is seeking views from industry on changing legal requirements to display a ‘Ministry plate’ on a goods vehicle/trailer.

The DVSA is considering changing the requirements for Ministry plates on HGVs and trailers as part of plans to improve services and wants your views.

DVSA is working to make Ministry plates and plating certificates (VTG6 & 7 documents) available to access electronically on GOV.UK. Plates would be linked to the vehicle and trailer record on the MOT History Service (MOTH).

This would allow operators, drivers, maintenance providers and enforcement bodies to view a digital copy of the issued Ministry plate.

If this change is made, there would be no legal requirement to fit a Ministry plate to vehicles. This change would also remove the requirement to purchase and replace plates when they are lost, faded, or defaced.

Ministry plates are documents that show important information such as serial number, year of manufacture, vehicle dimensions and more. The law requires a Ministry plate on HGVs and trailers in a visible and accessible position.

DVSA supports the proposed change, saying, “This change would remove the requirement to purchase and replace plates when they are lost, faded, or defaced.

Presenting the information digitally means that consideration could be given to reducing the cost to the industry brought about by affixing the Ministry plate to vehicles.”

You can find the survey here.
The survey closes on Sunday, 5 May.

35 Million Trucks: LeShuttle freight this cargo milestone

35 Million Trucks: LeShuttle freight this cargo milestone

19.3.2024 | Haulage

35 Million Trucks: LeShuttle hits cargo milestone

LeShuttle Freight has announced a milestone as its 35 millionth truck crossed the Channel aboard its shuttle. 

The 35 millionth truck belongs to Ontime Capitrans, one of Spain’s largest transporters of temperature-controlled goods throughout Europe. Ontime Capitrans has been a LeShuttle Freight customer for over 25 years, supplying refrigerated goods to some of the UK’s leading supermarket chains. The driver, Luis Vitervo Panches has been driving for 36 years and has crossed the Channel with LeShuttle Freight over 1000 times.

Since 1994, more than 750 million tonnes of goods have been transported via the tunnel aboard one of the 15 Truck Shuttles. LeShuttle Freight is a vital link in the global supply chain and carries 25% of the goods exchanged between the UK and continental Europe thanks to the speed, ease and flexibility of its service with up to 6 departures per hour. At 800m long, each Truck Shuttle can carry up to 32 trucks for the 35-minute journey between Folkestone to Calais.

Spain is a key trading partner for the UK; in 2023, £29 billion of goods were traded between the UK and Spain. Overall, 16% of the total trade between the UK and Spain was facilitated by The Channel Tunnel, making this a critical route to market for Spain’s fresh produce exports. With between 15-20% of LeShuttle Freight traffic from Spain and Portugal, the Iberia region is one of the largest trade contributors along Germany, Eastern Europe and BeNeLux.

As a leader in increasing fluidity through innovation, LeShuttle Freight has introduced FIRST, a distinctive new service for freight customers looking for additional time savings and dedicated support on their Channel crossings. In addition, to enhance the Short Strait crossing for both hauliers and drivers, LeShuttle Freight introduced a Driver Info web app to provide customised information such as departure and arrival times, club car number and customs status linked to a vehicle registration number to drivers. The tool is also used to communicate important safety instructions and operational procedures to ensure that drivers have a smooth experience at every step of their journey. It also enables access to the loyalty programme dedicated solely to drivers.

Deborah Merrens, Chief Commercial Director at LeShuttle said:

“This milestone is one we’re incredibly proud of and we want to thank our customers for their continued support. At LeShuttle Freight, we focus on better understanding the needs of our customers – hauliers and drivers – to offer them dedicated services from smart border crossing procedures to enhanced driver experience onboard our shuttles and on our premises. This was reflected in an improved satisfaction score last year and we’re looking forward to hitting our next milestone very soon… watch this space!”

Agustin Lison, FTL International Operations Manager at Ontime Capitrans, said:

“We’ve been using LeShuttle Freight for 25 years due to its speed and ease of use. It is the quickest and most efficient way we can deliver our fresh goods to British consumers, and the smart border solutions provided by LeShuttle Freight help us ensure a smooth and fast crossing.” 

Logistics industry unites in call for dedicated government minister

Logistics industry unites in call for dedicated government minister

19.3.2024 | Haulage

LOGISTICS INDUSTRY UNITES IN CALL FOR DEDICATED GOVERNMENT MINISTER

The heads of the UK’s leading logistics trade associations urge the next government to recognise the value the sector provides to the economy and appoint a dedicated minister for logistics.

Eleven of the UK’s leading logistics trade associations have cosigned a letter which was delivered to the leaders of the UK’s and devolved nations’ main political parties today, highlighting the role logistics can play in boosting growth and productivity if backed by the right policies and a dedicated minister supported by a Cabinet Office structure to support delivery across Whitehall. The logistics sector underpins the economy and, according to the associations, generates £163 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) and contributes significant tax revenue for the UK, including £5 billion from Fuel Duty and Vehicle Excise Duty alone.

“Achieving a policy environment that unleashes the potential for logistics to drive the economy would bring untold benefits,” says Phil Roe, President of Logistics UK, CILT Board Member and chair of the cross-industry group. “Our industry supports all households, businesses and public services and can play a larger role in supporting the UK’s economic recovery and growth for the future. Our member businesses stand ready to play their part, but their concerns need to be considered at the start of the decision-making process. A dedicated logistics minister working across Whitehall would give us the voice to shape plans and maximise the benefits which logistics can deliver.”

In addition to a dedicated Logistics Minister, the letter also calls for coordinated action on policy areas including planning and infrastructure; sustainability and decarbonisation; skills and the battle for talent; and growth and trade, all of which, according to the leaders of the UK’s leading logistics trade associations, are vital for efficient, green and safe logistics operations.

Phil Roe added, “As a sector, logistics has the ability to transform the way other industries operate and could deliver up to £7.9 billion in productivity-led growth per year by 2030, according to research from Oxford Economics. To do this, our industry needs the government’s focus, combined with radical planning reform, long-term infrastructure investment and a firm commitment to increasing transport capacity nationwide.

“We need the next government to work with our sector on a sustainability and decarbonisation roadmap to ensure our Net Zero goals can be achieved, backed by skills policies that will enable us to attract and retain the brightest and best minds. Our priority is to work closely with the government to boost trade and protect the UK’s highly interconnected supply chain for the benefit of both consumers and businesses as we approach the next government’s term.

“The sector is united in its priorities,” concludes Mr Roe, “and irrespective of who wins the next election, logistics will have a fundamental role to play in achieving their and the UK’s priorities. The sector is keen to work with the next government, and the appointment of a dedicated minister is entirely appropriate for a sector that generates £163 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) and employs over 8% of the UK workforce.”

You can read the letter here.

The signatories of the letter are leaders of:

Richard Ballantyne OBE, Chief Executive, British Ports Association
Claire Bottle, Chief Executive, UK Warehousing Association
Geraint Evans, Chief Executive, UK Major Ports Group
Amanda Francis, Chief Executive, Association of International Courier & Express Services
Steve Parker, Director General, British International Freight Association
Phil Pluck, Chief Executive, Cold Chain Federation
Paul Sanders, Founder & Chair, Association of Pallet Networks
Maggie Simpson OBE, Director General, Rail Freight Group
Richard Smith, Managing Director, RHA
Ian Studd, Director General, British Association of Removers
David Wells OBE, Chief Executive, Logistics UK

Image: Representatives of the UK’s key logistics industry bodies call on the next government to appoint a logistics minister

Demand for new trucks grows for second year running as more businesses go green

Demand for new trucks grows for second year running as more businesses go green

21.2.2024 | Haulage

Demand for new trucks grows for second year running as more businesses go green

46,227 new trucks of all types, sizes and technologies were put on the road last year, representing the best annual total since 2019. 

  • UK’s new truck market grows for the second consecutive year, up 13.5% to 46,227 units in 2023 – the best performance since 2019.
  • Demand soars for rigid and articulated trucks, rising 14.7% and 12.2% respectively.
  • Zero emission HGV registrations triple year on year, but at just 0.5%, market share uptake must accelerate quickly to meet the UK’s 2035 truck target.
  • A national plan for public and depot infrastructure is needed urgently to boost operator confidence in electric and hydrogen trucks.

Demand for new heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) grew for the second year running with UK registrations up 13.5% in 2023, according to the latest figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Some 46,227 new trucks of all types, sizes and technologies were put on the road last year, representing the best annual total since 20191 as more businesses invested in their fleets.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

Two years of growing demand for the very latest, fuel-efficient trucks amid testing times reflects these vehicles’ importance to the British economy – and with some HGVs facing the same 2035 end-of-sale date as cars and vans, the sector is also critical to our green goals. The increasing availability of electric and hydrogen models – and record demand for them – is encouraging market growth, but operators need cast-iron confidence to switch. More than ever, the government must compel truck infrastructure rollout and provide a signal that the time to invest is now.

The bulk of new HGVs were rigid trucks, up 14.7% to 24,439 units – more than half (52.9%) of the market – while demand for articulated trucks was also strong, rising 12.2% to 21,788 units. More specifically, the most popular truck body type continues to be tractors, typically used for the largest delivery trucks, up 12.4% to represent some 46.4% of the market. Demand for box vans – typically used for chilled and fragile goods distribution in urban areas – rose 19.2%, while uptake of curtain-sided trucks and refuse vehicles increased by 37.4% and 14.4% respectively. Tipper registrations declined, however, down -9.2% compared with a strong 2022.

Truck operators in every UK nation made more vehicle investments, with the vast majority (87.5%) in England, rising by 13.3%. Fleet renewal in Scotland and Wales also grew by 16.9% and 6.5%, respectively, while Northern Ireland saw the biggest percentage growth, up 19.7% – albeit with small volumes that are naturally subject to volatility. Britain’s biggest region for truck demand continues to be South East England, the location of several large ports, accounting for more than one in five (20.8%) of all registrations. North West England and the West Midlands, meanwhile, made up 14.4% and 12.1% of all UK demand respectively. Robust demand nationwide means that UK uptake is now just 4.8% or 2,308 units below pre-pandemic 2019 levels.

A growing choice of models also means operators are investing in new zero-emission trucks, with electric and hydrogen registrations up more than threefold in 2023 – by 265.6% to 234 units.2 While this is progress, these vehicles account for just 0.5% of the market and the clock is ticking with the end of sale of new, non-zero emission trucks under 26 tonnes coming in 2035.

Operators need certainty that making the switch will be commercially viable against tight margins. The benefits are clear, including a reduced carbon footprint and more efficient operations, but there are acute concerns over the lack of public chargepoint infrastructure. After the UK’s first truck-dedicated public chargepoint opened in the North West last year,3 government’s Budget in less than three weeks must match ambition with action. A national chargepoint strategy needs to include support for HGVs – in depots, at rest stops and on motorways – in every part of the UK.

Meanwhile, with less than one full cycle of truck fleet renewal remaining before 2035, it is imperative that the government sends the signal to the market that the shift to zero-emission vehicles must accelerate. Businesses that fail to do so risk delaying the benefits of decarbonisation, putting a smooth, stable transition of the market in jeopardy.

The full report can be found here.

ATL Haulage Contractors enters agreement as Hapag-Lloyd AG acquires its entire share capital

ATL Haulage Contractors enters agreement as Hapag-Lloyd AG acquires its entire share capital

22.1.2024 | Haulage

ATL Haulage Contractors enters agreement as Hapag-Lloyd AG acquires its entire share capital

Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd has struck a deal to acquire UK-based ATL Haulage Contractors.

Effective immediately, ATL Haulage Contractors Limited, a leading UK container haulage operator, has entered into an agreement under which German carrier Hapag-Lloyd AG has acquired the entire issued share capital of the company.

Established in 2008 as a private company, ATL today has a capacity in excess of 200 vehicles and 250 trailers and holds a dominant position in the marketplace. The deal will allow the company to invest in carbon-neutral technologies, provide volume stability, and drive cost synergies across the supply chain.

ATL has proven market expertise and is a trusted logistics partner to Hapag-Lloyd in the UK Inland market with a broad technological expertise and commitment to digitalisation.

The deal will combine the global strength of Hapag-Lloyd with ATL’s local knowledge and expertise to leverage untapped synergies and develop market-leading transport solutions for clients.

The acquisition will allow Hapag-Lloyd to build its presence in the inland container sector to deliver its commitment to providing clients with first-class multimodal service.

ATL will remain an independent company and brand and continue to be run by the existing management team serving all its clients in line with their existing partnerships.

Record 463 hauliers collapse in last year as soaring overheads erode profits, report reveals

Record 463 hauliers collapse in last year as soaring overheads erode profits, report reveals

28.11.2023 | Haulage

Record 463 hauliers collapse in last year as soaring overheads erode profits, report reveals

According to data obtained by accountants Price Bailey, more than double the number two years ago.

The data, obtained by Price Bailey under the Freedom of Information Act, shows that the number of haulage businesses entering insolvency jumped from 225 in 2020/21, to 363 in 2021/22 and then to 463 in the most recent 12-month period, representing a rise of 173% in just two years (year ending 30 September).

Price Bailey also looked at the credit risk score of the UK haulage sector. It revealed that 33% of businesses in the sector are deemed maximum risk, up from 22% 12 months ago.

Businesses in the maximum risk category are considered at imminent risk of collapse and will find it almost impossible to access extra funding unless directors provide personal guarantees.

According to Price Bailey, a convergence of adverse factors is squeezing the haulage sector, including soaring overheads, driven by fuel and wage rises, coupled with interest rate hikes which have made servicing debt increasingly expensive.

Price Bailey says that recent policy decisions have also hit the haulage sector hard. The Bank of England interest rate began the year at 3.5% but has been hiked aggressively over the past six months finishing at 5% by the end of Q2. Many haulage businesses rely on debt to finance their fleets, premises, and even day-to-day operational costs, which has meant that debt payments have risen with each rate hike.

Matt Howard, head of the insolvency and recovery team at Price Bailey, said: “Business failures among hauliers are rising at a rate unheard of in more than a decade. We are seeing a perfect storm of high inflation and interest rates at a time when many haulage businesses are on life support.”

He added: “Haulage is a low-margin business. Aggressive interest rate hikes this year have really turned the screw. Many hauliers rely on debt finance to fund everything from fleet acquisition to day-to-day running costs, making them vulnerable to rising interest rates. Rising overheads as a proportion of turnover are pushing many haulage businesses into the red. Business failures are likely to continue to rise throughout the second half of the year.”

Haulage businesses to have gone bust in recent months include Mark Stewart in Humberside. In its latest accounts, made up to the end of October 2022, Mark Stewart posted a loss of £200,000. At the time, it employed 25 people. A month before Stewart’s demise, KNP went into administration. The group employed more than 750 employees and had a 350-truck, 500-trailer fleet and 55,000 square metres of distribution space.

In June, Tuffnells was forced to call in the administrators. The company has since been acquired, in part, by logistics tech platform, Shift. In the same month, Cross Transport in Birmingham also failed. The business had a fleet of 200 vehicles operating across the UK.

According to the RAC, the price of diesel has jumped by 11% since 17 July 2023, from 144.36 pence per litre to 160.44 pence per litre on 9 November 2023. Price Bailey said that that while most hauliers pass on the cost of fuel to customers, in the form of a fuel surcharge, the amount is usually reviewed monthly, meaning that sharp rises in fuel prices in a matter of weeks cannot be recovered until the following month.

Howard said: “Diesel costs fell from their peak in the summer of 2022, but they have started to rise sharply again over the last few months. Geopolitical tensions in the Middle East could accelerate that trend, which would pile more costs on embattled UK hauliers. In many cases, the fuel price rises we have seen over the last few months will have completely wiped out any profits hauliers would have made on margins of just a few per cent.”

Price Bailey also points out that the cost of new and second-hand cabs and trailers has rocketed over the past year or so with a corresponding increase in insurance costs. For example, units costing £85,000 plus VAT with three months delivery last year are now costing £115,000 with at least eight months delivery.

Source and image: Motor Transport.