Temporary Solutions Won’t Ease the Logistics Pain Felt by the UK Supply Chain
As the trouble across the Channel continues to disrupt Kent’s roads and put a strain on the UK economy, the challenges for manufacturers and the European supply chain have only just begun.
The demand for emergency logistics expertise has significantly grown since Operation Stack was first implemented at the end of June because of the cross-channel disruptions.
Priority Freight has received a 300% increase in airfreight bookings, moving goods that would have otherwise been delivered by road haulage. Also, the need to consolidate shipments from several key component suppliers increased large aircraft charters by 600% in July. While airfreight might cost more, ultimately it saves manufacturers money. We estimate that emergency logistics can prevent losses of more than £1m per hour for car manufacturers, by keeping productions lines running during periods of disruption.
August is traditionally the quietest manufacturing period of the year, when UK plants cease production for a few weeks. We anticipate that if the disruption continues into autumn and beyond, once production starts again, there will be a significantly higher cost to the UK supply chain. The Freight Transport Association has already estimated that this summer’s troubles have cost the haulage industry £750,000 per day, and £250m to the UK economy as a whole.
While issues need to be urgently reviewed to ease the congestion, simply finding an alternative to Operation Stack is not the solution – and the government’s proposal to use Manston Airport as a temporary lorry park when Operation Stack is in place will simply move the disruption and road congestion to East Kent, and will not provide enough capacity to accommodate the number of trucks we’ve seen parked on the M20 in July.
The problems don’t begin and end in Kent, or Calais, it’s the crises that necessitate Operation Stack in the first place that need to be addressed. Politicians and countries need to take responsibility for the migrant crisis and find a compassionate solution to help the desperate men, women and children seeking refuge from other regions of the world.