Entering the new year with a focus on mental health

15 January 2020

Everyone knows just how stressful Christmas can be, but for those in the transport and logistics sector the pressure can be even more extreme.

The run-up to Christmas, now preceded by the dual double peak of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is very often the busiest time of year for the logistics sector, where demand spikes massively.

Greater workloads and longer shift patterns, coupled with darker nights during winter and heavier traffic can all have a negative effect on the mental health of those involved with every link of the supply chain.

But now things are beginning to change and the industry is focusing much more heavily on the wellbeing and health of those who work in it.

With that in mind, TNB spoke to leading charity Mind to look at how transport operators can start the new year on a fresh and positive footing, putting the mental health of colleagues high on the agenda.

Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at Mind, said, “Commonly cited causes of stress and poor mental health at work include long working hours, lone or remote working and lack of support from colleagues or managers – all things professional drivers are likely to experience on a daily basis.

“Unsociable or long shifts make it difficult to establish a regular routine and sleep pattern, particularly if you have to fit non-work related tasks around early starts and late finishes.”

Emma continued, “Working alone and regularly spending time away from your support network of friends and family can take their toll on our mental wellbeing.

“It’s no surprise that, if left unsupported, drivers, particularly long-haul drivers, may experience a deterioration in their health and changes to their performance. Those who spend much of their working day on the road often struggle to maintain a healthy diet or find the time to take exercise throughout the day, both of which can have a knock-on impact on our physical and mental health.”

But despite the many issues which can all detrimentally effect the mental health of drivers, Emma is quick to point out that attitudes are changing and support is now more readily available than ever before.

She said, “Fortunately, all employers are beginning to recognise the need to promote wellbeing for their staff, including those with mental health problems.

“At Mind, we encourage employers to put in place measures which help tackle the causes of work-related stress and poor mental health, promote wellbeing for all staff, and support employees experiencing mental health problems.

“Small, inexpensive measures such as buddy systems, flexible working hours, generous annual leave, and regular catch ups between staff, and access to Employee Assistance Programmes such as a confidential support line can all make a huge difference.”

Emma continued, “If you’re struggling with your mental health at work, speak to someone you trust about it to see if there is any support that can be put in place.

All employers have a duty under the Equality Act to provide reasonable adjustments for any employee who discloses a disability, which can include a mental health problem if it has a substantial, adverse, and long term effect on normal day-to-day activities.

“Staff who need to take time off due to stress or mental health problems should be treated exactly the same as those who take sick leave for a physical health problem, such as back or neck pain. But we know that too often, that isn’t the case.”

For all those working in the industry, not just drivers, here are Mind’s top tips to safeguarding your mental health in the workplace:

Reclaim your breaks

Make the most of those precious breaks and make sure you take regular breaks even if you don’t feel you need one.

Get outdoors

Get outside in the sun and enjoy some fresh air and perhaps enjoy some time socialising with colleagues. Take time to enjoy the outdoors and get re-energised for an afternoon of productive work.

Take part in group activity

If there’s a green space near your workplace why not organise a game of rounders or football, hold a guerrilla gardening session, or a group walk?

Take up a challenge

Local sponsored walks or marathons are a great way to keep active. Sign with your colleagues and train together. Participating as part of a team can give a communal sense of achievement when you complete the challenge.

Whistle while you work

If you’re feeling stressed, listening to a calming song can take your mind off work for a few minutes and help you unwind and refocus.

Menzies strengthens EV fleet

15 January 2020

Menzies Distribution has expanded its zero-emissions delivery fleet to more than 120 vehicles.

The company already has the UK’s largest all electric vehicle fleet as well as the largest commercial charging infrastructure in the UK through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Gnewt, delivering parcels across London.

The new vans are based in Oban and are the first electric vehicles to be based in Menzies Distribution’s Scottish network.

The three new electric vans, all Nissan e-NV200s with a Voltia conversion, will operate from Oban serving routes across West Scotland.

Adam Smith, Group Commercial Director at Menzies Distribution stated, “We are delighted to introduce our first electric vehicles into our Scottish delivery fleet. We currently have more than 120 electric vehicles delivering parcels, with a particular concentration in London, and we are looking to take the lessons we have learned from running one of the largest all-electric fleets in the UK and roll out across the country.

“Through Gnewt by Menzies Distribution, our electric vans have already delivered more than 10 million parcels emission-free and we look to significantly increase that volume in 2020 as part of our green fleet strategy to introduce electric vans, powered by renewable energy to our UK depots.”

Igloo adds vehicles for charity breakfast drops

15 January 2020

Chilled courier Igloo Thermo-Logistics has taken delivery of 10 new refrigerated delivery vehicles through Ryder, the commercial vehicle contract hire, rental, and maintenance specialist.

The trucks will service Igloo’s partnership with national charity Magic Breakfast, which has been providing healthy school breakfasts to children in disadvantaged areas of the UK since 2010.

The 10 new vehicles are 3.5-tonne Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans with Solomon fridge bodies and Carrier Transicold Xarios fridge units, and operate from Igloo’s three depots in Coventry, Leeds, and Watford.

Aside from servicing the Magic Breakfast contract, Igloo offers a multi-temperature food courier service with national coverage and delivers all sizes of refrigerated consignments from parcels to pallets.

Leigh Ogley, Operations Director at Igloo, said, “We needed the new vehicles to have a good payload so we can maximise the volume we put in them, hence them having a long wheelbase.

“They are making around 20 drops a day, five times a week to the schools, and will be in operation 39-weeks of the year, so we estimate they will do around 40,000 miles a year

The 10 new vehicles from Ryder are primarily being used to deliver product for breakfast clubs under the National Schools Breakfast Programme, which Magic Breakfast was recently awarded funding to deliver.

“We needed the new vehicles to have a good payload so we can maximise the volume we put in them, hence them having a long wheelbase. They are making around 20 drops a day, five times a week to the schools, and will be in operation 39-weeks of the year, so we estimate they will do around 40,000 miles a year.”

Bibby Distribution completes four-year fleet upgrade

15 January 2020

Third party logistics company Bibby Distribution has completed a four-year vehicle replacement programme designed to reduce the environmental impact of its 500-strong fleet.

The company’s fleet is now completely Euro VI compliant, with DAF, MAN, Mercedes-Benz and Renault trucks all in operation.

The move ensures the company’s trucks can operate sustainably anywhere in the country and enter any of the UK’s existing low emissions zones without paying an additional daily charge.

Bibby Distribution’s Head of Fleet and Procurement, Adam Purshall, said, “Reducing our carbon emissions is very important to us, as we work towards Bibby Distribution’s long-term goal of operating with zero waste, zero harm and zero environmental impact and having an optimal fleet is a huge part of that commitment.

“It also means a great deal to our customers who appreciate the focus we are giving to reducing their supply chain carbon footprint.”

In addition to fleet upgrades, enhanced driver training and more efficient routing and backloading has seen Bibby Distribution reduce its carbon footprint by 10 per cent since 2014.

Amazon continues its environmental focus

15 January 2020

Amazon has installed 60 charging stations to support the operation of a new fleet of StreetScooter WORK Box electric vans operating out of its depot in Munich.

The company has taken delivery of 40 of the German-built vans as it continues to focus on environmental improvements across the board.

Adam Elman, Senior Lead Sustainability, Amazon Europe, said, “Amazon is committed to achieving the Paris agreement targets 10 years ahead of schedule – in 2040 instead of 2050 – so we are collaborating with a number of different partners developing new technologies and helping promote a carbon-neutral economy.

“We look forward to working with StreetScooter and using their expertise to add additional electric vehicles and charging stations to our network and achieve carbon-neutral delivery operations.”

Glasgow bus service goes full electric

15 January 2020

Two new pure-electric buses, jointly supplied to First Glasgow by Alexander Dennis and BYD Europe, have entered service in Scotland’s biggest city.

The two BYD ADL Enviro200EV single deck buses have been funded by SP Energy Networks and will contribute to cleaner air by converting the M3 bus service to full electric, emission-free operation.

Among those who will benefit from the improved air quality are children at St Joseph’s Primary School, who were the first passengers on the inaugural journey to a launch event attended by Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, and Anna Richardson, City Convener for Sustainability & Carbon Reduction at Glasgow City Council.

The introduction of the zero-emission electric buses was made possible by the award of £1.5 million in funding from SP Energy Networks’ Green Economy Fund, established by the electricity network operator to support the Scottish Government’s ambitious green targets to boost local economic growth, improve air quality in Scottish cities and to expedite a better future for all.

First Glasgow’s has installed 22 charging points at its Caledonia Depot to support the buses and in anticipation of further investment in electric buses.

Andrew Jarvis, Managing Director of First Glasgow, said, “We are delighted to launch the city’s first conversion of a commercial bus service to fully electric operation. The whole team at First Glasgow are thrilled to be teamed up with SP Energy Networks in order to bring these state-of-the-art zero-emission vehicles to the people of Glasgow and the M3 route. Every customer journey on the route will save around 2kg of CO2 compared with driving on your own in an average car, making bus the best choice in reducing the impact on the planet.”

Frank Mitchell, CEO at SP Energy Networks, added, “Glasgow has ambitious plans to be the UK’s first net-zero carbon city by 2030, but for that to happen, there will be big changes across the city. The introduction of this new electric bus technology which will ultimately improve air quality and noise pollution in the city centre and other communities. We are very proud to be supporting this historic moment for Glasgow by fully funding the infrastructure and vehicles for its first completely electric bus route since the 1960s.”

UK new van registrations up 2.4% in 2019 as market finishes year on a high

06 January 2020

  • UK light commercial vehicle (LCV) market returns to growth in December, up +7.8%.
  • Performance means new van registrations end 2019 up +2.4%, the third best year on record.
  • 365,778 of the latest, cleanest models hit UK roads in a boost to fleet renewal.

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UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) registrations returned to growth in December, following three months of decline, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The market grew +7.8% in December as the impact of regulatory changes eased and attractive offers on new models helped stimulate orders with only pickups experiencing a fall in demand.

December rounded off a solid annual performance for LCVs, with full year registrations up +2.4% as 365,778 new models hit UK roads. This was the third highest total on record, with growth coming despite political and economic uncertainty for much of the year, and reflecting buyers keen to switch to the latest low emission models to comply with clean air zone requirements and meet demand brought about by the rise of online shopping and corresponding deliveries.

All van segments saw growth during 2019, with small vans weighing less than 2.0 tonnes up +4.4%, medium vans weighing 2.0-2.5 tonnes up +10.5% and larger vans weighing 2.5-3.5 tonnes up +1.2%. Demand for new pickups and 4x4s, however, fell, down -1.0% and -9.7% respectively but the combined loss represented just 733 units.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

A healthy van market is good news for the industry, environment and exchequer and so the rise in 2019 registrations is very welcome. As we enter a new decade, however, we need this upward trend to continue if we are to address environmental concerns. The quicker these new vehicles become commonplace, the quicker their positive impact on air quality and climate change will be felt. Manufacturers will continue to invest in new, cleaner technologies but, ultimately, it is businesses that will determine the pace of change. Business positivity is essential to give companies the confidence to invest in their fleets.

FTA scheme records fall in emissions

08 January 2020

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has announced that members of its Logistics Emissions Reduction Scheme (LERS) achieved a 4% reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions during the past year.

The FTA’s 2019 Logistics Emissions Review also found members of the voluntary scheme decreased their average kg of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per vehicle from 0.75 in 2016/17 to 0.72 last year.

The report also illustrates members’ continued efforts to ensure they are operating the cleanest vehicles available; 58% of the LERS group’s HGVs are Euro VI standard, up from the 48% recorded in 2017. This story is the same for vans, with 57% of members’ vans meeting the Euro 6 standard, an increase from the 44% figure from 2017. In addition, there has been a significant drop in the use of Euro 3 vans – down from 22% in 2017 to just under 3%.

FTA’s Environment Policy Manager, Rebecca Kite, said, “We are thrilled that members of LERS have continued to achieve a downward trend in their emissions since 2010. The scheme has continued to grow throughout the past 12 months and now represents 142 members, accounting for 99,238 commercial vehicles.

“This year we launched an online guide specifically designed to provide fleet operators with advice on reducing their fuel consumption, as well as their emissions. The outcome has been staggering and extremely impressive, with results showing LERS members are 13% more fuel efficient than the industry as a whole. With this evidence, we can demonstrate to government that the industry is committed to climate change, without the need for additional regulations and taxation.”

New research shines spotlight on bus passenger opinions

09 January 2020

Across the country, many different approaches are being taken to coax commuters out of their cars and onto the bus network.

From free park and ride to the introduction of congestion charges and the roll-out of on-demand services, towns, cities and regions are all trying to achieve the same goal – encouraging the use of public transport.

Now, independent watchdog, Transport Focus, has published new research, which could give valuable insight into the issues that act as a barrier to increased passenger numbers.

Its report Buses on Highway England’s roads: meeting the needs of passengers and bus companies outlines the findings of this research, which involved detailed conversations with bus operators and service users in Bristol and Brighton.

It found that bus travel, for commuters and leisure-users, is very often the preference, allowing them to bypass the worst of the traffic, avoid the need to find a parking space and to save money.

But conversely, congestion, and the inability of buses to navigate through or around it in many places is also seen as one of the biggest drawbacks.

The key findings of the research make for interesting reading:

Cost and convenience

The bus is often preferred to the car as it is seen as more convenient.

Passengers told researchers they use the bus to avoid sitting in the car in traffic and so they do not have to find a place to park in crowded town centres.

In addition, participants in the research said that it is usually cheaper to use the bus, particularly when compared with all the costs associated with driving.

This echoes other Transport Focus research showing that convenience and cost are generally at the heart of the decision of whether to choose the bus or car.

Comfort

When buses are working well, passengers appreciate the comfort of the surroundings and the ability to enjoy the journey at their leisure.

They also appreciate the additional features which may be available, such as free Wi-Fi and charging points, the ease of buying tickets and of finding timetable information.

Social Good

Passengers also see their use of the bus as a social good, with bus travel a more efficient and environmentally friendly way of transporting large numbers of people.

Congestion

Passengers surveyed recognised that existing bus priority measures do help buses avoid congestion in some places. However, the impact and unpredictability of congestion is also their biggest area of concern and counts against bus travel.

Bus priority measures

Passengers are very supportive of priority measures which gave buses priority and allow them to continue their journey with ease.

Top of the list are bus lanes but measures such as ‘smart’ traffic lights, are also well received.

As a result of its research, Transport Focus is now calling on Highways England to:

  • implement a range of improvements which help bus companies run punctual, reliable services which passengers can trust
  • develop a minimum standard for bus stops on its roads and upgrade those not meeting that standard as quickly as possible
  • look to minimise the impact on timetables during disruption, whether caused by planned roadworks, an event or an accident
  • partnering with bus companies and local authorities to pilot ‘try the bus’ initiatives, so that some current car users choose bus for some or all of their trips in future.

Anthony Smith, chief executive Transport Focus, said, “Passengers and bus companies tell us Highways England’s network is often the fastest, smoothest part of their bus journey but congestion has considerable impact on the day-to-day lives of those who use buses.

“Congestion is clearly being felt by bus passengers. This research should help Highways England understand these concerns and better meet the needs of these customers.”

“Transport Focus looks forward to seeing the improvements for bus passengers and operators as part of Highways England’s proposed investment plans.”

British-built model helps drive Vauxhall sales growth

08 January 2020

The British-built Vauxhall Vivaro van – the latest generation of which was launched in 2019 – helped Vauxhall to a 27% increase in sales volume last year.

Built at Vauxhall’s recently transformed plant in Luton, the popularity of new Vivaro played a major part in the success, which saw Vauxhall LCV numbers grow by around 8,000 units in 2019, to a total of 36,000 sales.

In December alone, Vivaro recorded a 14.2 per cent month-on-month segment increase versus 2018, with around 3,200 sales.

In all, more than one million Vivaro vans have now been produced by Vauxhall in Luton.