Brexit, driver shortages, rising fuel prices and increased insurance premiums were the main concerns highlighted by representatives from Irish transport companies interviewed during the final process of the Fleet Transport Awards 2019. Interviewees also expressed increasing interest in alternative powered commercial vehicles but highlighted that infrastructure development is needed.
The Brexit uncertainty is lowering confidence in business investment especially with Irish based international hauliers with some are holding off fleet renewal programmes until the situation becomes clearer regarding cross-Border activity.
To address the ongoing driver shortage, a number of road transport firms have come up with solutions such as paying for the driver licence tuition (provided the new recruit stays with the company for a defined period), or paying existing drivers a set fee to recruit new drivers through a referral scheme. Others rely on regular social media posts on Facebook and Twitter.
As the Government seeks to reduce transport’s carbon footprint, moves are afoot to harmonise the price point of diesel versus petrol, which could have a detrimental affect on haulage companies’ profitability and viability. The difficulty is that operators need to budget ahead and factor-in the additional costs related to the timings of any price increase. Many are not looking forward to next month’s Budget!
A restructuring of the whole insurance industry is being called for as massively high payouts and fraudulent claims are driving up the cost of insurance. “A reform of the whole insurance sector is needed and the various measures proposed must be implemented by the Government to tackle these rising costs,” said one haulier finalist at the interviews held over two days at the Johnstown Estate & Hotel, Enfield.
An encouraging number of transport companies have ordered Natural Gas powered trucks primarily for national haulage runs but stressed that a nationwide gas filling station infrastructure is needed urgently. Similarly, interest in electric powered vans was mentioned frequently, particularly from city based express delivery companies conscious of their carbon footprint in the ‘last mile delivery’ operations. Again, additional functional fast charging points are required.
“Established in 2006, the annual Fleet Transport Awards have become a must-attend event for anybody and everybody working in the road haulage and transport sectors. Last year just over one thousand people attended the event at the Citywest Hotel, Dublin to witness the best in the industry honoured for their endeavours, while availing of an unequalled opportunity to network and liaise with colleagues,” explained Jarlath Sweeney, Group Editor, Fleet Transport.
“Over the two days, the interview panels got a unique insight into the day-to-day matters of concern among Irish road transport operators. Despite these issues, there is great positivity, enthusiasm and drive in moving their companies forward. Best wishes to all of the finalists and we look forward to announcing the winners at the Fleet Transport Awards Gala Dinner on 11 October at the Citywest Hotel, Dublin,” he added.