Haulage increasing: favourable outlook in SKAL Transport Barometer
For the first time in six years, the Transport Barometer of Finnish Transport and Logistics SKAL is showing clear growth in road haulage volumes and business turnover. SKAL believes that this upswing will gather pace with good road maintenance and construction, and by ensuring continued vocational training of professional drivers.
SKAL has commissioned a survey of the economic outlook and haulage volumes of its affiliated enterprises three times a year for more than a decade, enabling the organisation to chart the trends that define progress in the long term. Although the expectations of haulage firms concerning the volume of goods carried, business turnover and viability have been pessimistic over the last six years, a turnaround has occurred during the early months of this year. Responses from more than 500 hauliers suggest that one in three carriers experienced growing haulage volumes in spring 2017, whereas a year ago about one quarter of respondents saw either growth or contraction while the remaining half were maintaining steady volumes. Expectations for the summer were also more optimistic than in previous years. An increase in activity was also evident from mileages (growth of 29 per cent compared to 24 % in 2016), and in figures for staffing and vehicles. The growth in haulage volumes was divided quite evenly throughout Finland and in various types of transport work.
Drawbacks seen in high costs, unfair competition and inflexible driving and rest periods
In the section of the Transport Barometer dealing with matters of current concern, SKAL repeated the survey questions asked in 2012 and 2014 concerning the greatest operating challenges faced by businesses, with survey respondents selecting the five greatest challenges and ranking them in order of importance. The three leading issues matched the findings from five years ago, with high costs most frequently cited (79 per cent), followed by unfair competition in the haulage market (71 per cent) and inflexible driving and rest periods (70 per cent). Lack of bargaining power in negotiating haulage contracts (54 per cent) and the poor condition of the road network (53 per cent) also remained at the top of the list.
The lack of flexibility in driving and rest periods is a perennial irritation for haulage firms. Haulier duties vary considerably, and firms have difficulty in scheduling mandatory breaks at specific times. SKAL has submitted a joint proposal with the Employers’ Federation of Road Transport (ALT) and the Finnish Bus and Coach Association that would enable a 45-minute rest period to be scheduled as three fifteen minute breaks when necessary, and would also allow drivers to complete a single longer run once a week in order to get home for the weekend. Such increased flexibility would make work planning more efficient, and improve both business viability and driver job satisfaction.
Boosting the upturn
The increase in goods transport evident in the Transport Barometer for spring and summer marks the beginning of an upswing that is normalising the market after a prolonged depression. There are also early signs of a driver shortage that should be headed off by ensuring training courses for new drivers.
- “By investing in the road network and construction, Finland will maintain operations that in turn foster employment and growth. Haulage vehicles are now in demand, with work available for road haulage businesses. We must ensure that skilled labour is available,” explains SKAL Managing Director Iiro Lehtonen.
A total of 546 affiliated enterprises representing all of the specialist organisations and sectors covered by SKAL responded to Transport Barometer survey 2/2017. The Transport Barometer survey is conducted at regular intervals, three times a year by sending an electronic questionnaire to about 4,300 affiliated firms.
The survey investigates the financial position and immediate outlook of road haulage businesses. The latest survey was completed between 17 and 31 May 2017.
For further details please contact:
Iiro Lehtonen, Managing Director, SKAL, tel. +358 40 502 8181
Pasi Moisio, Director and Permanent Representative to the EU, SKAL Brussels, tel. +32 497 39 4802
Heini Polamo, Communications Manager, SKAL, tel. +358 40 506 0131
Finnish Transport and Logistics – SKAL is a lobbying organisation that represents businesses providing road haulage and logistical services, with a membership of some 5,300 transport and logistics businesses. www.skal.fi