Trucking shortage shifts from drivers to vehicles

Transportation companies that spent last year in the struggle to hire drivers now have a new problem: a shortage of trucks.

On both sides of the Atlantic, rising wages helped entice workers to return to the road after a shortage of drivers pushed the industry to a breaking point, leaving shipping containers Stuck in the ports On the west coast of the United States and fuel pumps Dries On the front yards of Britain.

But long-standing shortages of equipment – originally due to Corona virus restrictions and chip shortages – become more severe with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine Nakba The supply of key components and Chinese locks threaten another storm in the global supply chain.

“The driver has been the biggest constraint in the last two years.

Rico Lumen, an economist at ING, said some European truck makers did not receive more orders because their backlog was already long, while others could not name the price because they were unsure of the cost of raw materials for vehicles that could be delivered “remotely” next year.

“One- to two-year-old trucks are almost identical to the price of new trucks at the moment: there is no option B to get available capacity,” Lumen said.

“We are struggling to keep the British Navy on the road,” said Kieran Smith, CEO of recruitment agency Driver Require, who said vehicle availability at the operators he works with has dropped significantly due to a shortage of spare parts.

Higher wages – wages across the industry have risen by about 25-30% in the past year, according to Denoir – and the relief in Omicron’s corona wave has eased the shortage of workers in the US.

The wave of new workers, meanwhile, has helped limit costs for companies transporting their goods by truck. Spot rates of U.S. dry-fuel-free vans have dropped sharply in March and have fallen more than a third since the beginning of the year.

Line diagram of the number of people employed in truck transport (m

The picture is similar in the UK, where industry unions claim driver shortages have narrowed as wages have improved, tests for HGV licenses have resumed and large-scale government-backed training programs have been launched.

“A year ago, we bled drivers on all sides as a result of Cubid,” said Rod McKenzie, head of the policy department at the Road Transport Association. “Now things are really getting easier.” Mackenzie estimated that the shortage of 100,000 drivers dropped to about 65,000.

Luis Gomez, president of XPO Logistics Europe, said job vacancies in the company’s business in the UK had fallen and wages had stabilized across the industry, with job applicants giving preference to shift patterns that offered a better work-life balance over large pay packages.

Paul Day, CEO of Turners Soham, a Cambridge-based moving and warehousing company, said the UK market was “close to equilibrium” between the number of drivers and the amount of work, with wages in his business rising by about 15-20 per cent. Cent from year to year.

But he and others believe the transportation industry is able to cope mainly because rising commodity prices, combined with bottlenecks in production, have taken advantage of demand.

“We avoided the worst because ironically the economy slowed,” said Day, who said the volume of goods shipped by supermarkets has dwindled, although demand for construction is still stable.

Ken Hoxter, an analyst at Bank of America, said U.S. shipments also reported weaker demand as fuel prices soared and manufacturers were left with less work to rebuild their inventory, which fell to low levels during the plague.

However, the industry remains fragile. Although carriers usually pass on changes in fuel prices, they face cost pressures for other raw materials. The price of Ad Blue, an anti-pollution used in diesel engines, has quadrupled because its main component originated in Russia, Day said. Small operators who are caught up in lengthy negotiations with customers may quickly run into cash flow difficulties.

Although the shortage of drivers is less acute, the industry has not solved endemic problems with the recruitment and retention of an aging workforce.

“We’re in the slower part of [the] sleep. . . And we are working close to the edge, “Smith said, adding that conditions may worsen as demand increases during the busier summer months.” It will be really tight. . . We are not far from another shortage. “

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