How the Haulage Industry Keeps Britain Moving

The transport sector plays a major role in the UK economy, and anyone considering entering the haulage industry in any role will be pleased to note that, more than just a time-filling or moneymaking job, it can be a fulfilling and meaningful career. In this article, we’ll run through some of the ways the logistics business helps to keep the country moving.

Overall Importance

Productivity and competitiveness across the board depend on a thriving haulage industry and efficient infrastructure – both are necessary to quite literally keep businesses moving. Just about everything we buy or sell needs to be moved at some point, and 89% of all goods transported by land in Britain are moved by road.

Moreover, even goods brought in by air or sea often need road transport to get to and from ports and to access consumers. HGVs are also important even where water and rail links are used, as the last few miles at least of any journey are almost always taken by road.

Illustrating this, government statistics report that 3.7 billion tonnes of goods exported in the year to September 2017 moved on UK roads, and GB-registered HGVs travelled a staggering 18.7 billion kilometres in total.

Agriculture and Food Production

The haulage industry is especially crucial to the agricultural sector, as the country’s farms are rarely easy to access by rail or water. 98% of all UK food and agricultural produce is transported by road.

Without the logistics sector, then, the country would struggle to even have a food production industry at all, seriously harming supermarkets’ ability to keep prices low, and creating knock-on effects for the restaurant sector and other linked businesses.

A Major Employer

As the Road Haulage Association (RHA) website notes, the haulage industry is ‘a substantial employer in its own right’ in addition to being ‘essential to the success of the UK economy.’

The statistics bear this claim out. The sector:

•Is the UK’s fifth largest employer
•Employs a mammoth 2.54 million people
•Accounts for almost 500,000 registered commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.

Combine these impressive numbers with the transport sector’s indirect economic benefits, and haulage and logistics is worth £124 billion in gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy.

Challenges, and What’s Being Done to Meet Them

As with any major business, the haulage industry is characterised by intense competition and innovation, with companies responding to fluctuating demand, road and weather conditions, infrastructure, and government regulation, as well as mounting environmental concerns. Congestion alone costs the UK economy £31 billion each year, and poor roads lead to £675 million in vehicle repairs.

In addition to adopting new technologies and better practices, businesses lobby government for involvement in policy changes and work with international standards and directives. The EU ‘Euro 6’ standard for HGVs, for instance, ensures they’ll be compliant with ultra-low emissions zones (ULEZs) of the kind that already exist in London and are proposed elsewhere. Other challenges also present opportunity. A skills shortage, for instance, has contributed to an estimated 45-60,000 vacancies for drivers and hauliers.

The haulage industry plays a major role in the country’s overall economic performance, then. And on the strength of its ability to adapt, it is likely to continue doing so.

Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides a valuable service for the haulage industry, matching delivery work with available vehicles. It is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange in the UK.

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