Long waiting times at terminals and driver shortages

Container transport has always been a hectic business.  Not just for us at Handico Trucking, but for all stakeholders. During the last couple of months several issues have however made it  even more hectic. In this blog we will discuss two major causes. First, container terminals are busier than ever, due to high stack volumes and vessels arriving out of schedule. Second, there is a shortage of drivers to transport the containers. 

Time lost at terminals

Most terminals are owned or paid by the shipping companies. This means their main incentive lays with handling the ships. In the current situation where a lot of vessels arrive out of schedule, they will focus all of their staff on unloading boats. As a result the capability to handle trucks, is reduced. This causes long waiting times both when a truck has entered the terminal, but also on the street in front of the gate.

Additionally lots of terminals work with timeslots, which they reduce to a bare minimum for trucks. When drivers have to wait a couple of hours their legal work times come into question. This means they will not be able to pick-up anymore in the evening, and  can only pick-up the next morning. Resulting in delays at customers.  

To reduce stack levels and also as a result of ships arriving out of schedule, yard-opening  times at terminals change at the last minute. Unfortunately this causes more delays as drivers cannot drop-off and we have to find temporary storage. 

Shortage of drivers

There is also a lack of drivers in the current market. This is caused by several issues. As we wrote in  one of our previous blogs, the new EU mobility package has impacted the length of time a foreign truck can work in Rotterdam or Antwerpen.  Unfortunately the cost to adhere to these changes is very high for our partners. Consequently some of them have decided to not work in Western Europe anymore. Others who choose to stay have raised their prices, therefore we have also had to adopt our rates. 

Another factor is the high inflation. All factors that influence the cost of running a truck have gone up. Fuel prices have been high for several months.  This significaltly impacts our partner's profit margins. Also, it increases the cost to adhere to the return home rule of the mobility package.

Due to the shortage of semi-conducters that started during covid lockdowns, parts have increased in price. The continuous inflation of the last months has further driven up prices. As the inflation period is expected to continue into the next year, further price increases for truck maintance are almost certain. 

In Belgium there are also extra factors that increase wage cost.  Every year salaries are indexed in line with the inflation percentage of the previous year.  Of course in years with low inflation this a minor increase, however this year it will of course be a major increase. This is for both drivers and office staff. Drivers' wages in Belgium will also go up by an extra few percentage points to promote the job of truck driver, in an effort to make the profession more attractive and solve the shortage of drivers.

Working together is important

The abovementioned factors make it important that all parties involved in a transport work together. Communication is key in this process. A driver needs to provide information about a delay as soon as possible, so the customer can be informed.  The customer needs to check with the carriers and customs agencies all bookings and documents are in order.  We as a trucking company need to keep an overview and communicate to all stakeholders what is possible, and also what is not. In the communication process we at Handico Trucking take the leading role. If all stakeholders collaborate and do their part it is easiest to achieve what all of us want. The container is delivered at the agreed time, with as little stress for everyone involved.  

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