“I like trucking, I like trucking, I like trucking and I like to truck.” Those of you who have not been on this planet very long and people who like hedgehogs will not be familiar with this Not The 9 O’clock News sketch from 1970’s UK TV. In short, the sketch showed macho truck drivers ploughing across the country flattening hedgehogs and munching on the obligatory large chocolate man-size Yorkie. (I was thinking how much smaller the Yorkie is now and when I checked it is indeed 15g and 2 chunks lighter than when I had my own teeth!)
Some of the trucks we see on the roads today are extremely high tech, modern and comfortable with hi-tech monitoring such as fuel consumption and tyre wear. They incorporate the latest motoring technology as well as a degree of driver cab luxury of which 1970’s Yorkie Man could only dream.
Tachographs have been around for ages but they are now largely superseded by satellite navigation that can track transport and shipments in real time ensuring drivers obey the rules of the road and avoid taking possibly amorous diversions they would rather keep quiet! (You should see the well-known names on trucks visiting a certain stretch of “comforting road” near Bucuresti!!!)
Load security and integrity can be monitored by a whole host of sensors keeping close watch on temperature, humidity, security seals and how often the doors have been opened and where and when. You also see some crazy looking trucks where the tops have been streamlined to cut down wind resistance and to contribute to a greener Supply Chain. Everything sounds hunky dory then as these modern juggernauts criss-cross the motorway network delivering chemicals, car spares or finished goods for FMCG and other sectors.
If you look towards the east of Europe you will find that Yorkie Man and his crumbling kit are alive and well. Yes, there are large fleets of top class modern equipment in CEE serving the internal country needs and of import and export to the EU. However, there remain a large number of smaller operators and owner-drivers who have not invested and upgraded to suit the needs of the modern transport trade. Again, there are some good examples but far too many are still using gas guzzling, fume spewing, unsafe vehicles that may be transporting your valuable goods. Remember, when a truck delivers your product they form part of your face to the customer.
Too many vehicles (well, one is too many isn’t it?) are operating on less than perfect road infrastructures with bald tyres, broken lights, poor load security and on borrowed time. Couple these failings with indifferent or a simple lack of driving skills and you have a recipe for a trucking disaster.
In particular, producer companies in those countries waiting to join the EU should take a look at how they move goods around now and start thinking about forcing an upgrade before the Yorkie gets even smaller.
Image courtesy of Decebal Popescu at Cartrans.ro