2021 in review

London, UK: On almost every measure, 2021 was a dismal year, posing enormous challenges to logistics businesses that few predicted.

It’s been a bumpy 12 months with lockdowns, ‘pingdemic’ driven staff shortages, Brexit-driven driver shortages, and supply chain chaos.

Brexit-imposed challenges almost paled into insignificance against the short-term problems of the pandemic with a business punishing lockdown on top of falling international trade.


And with the latest varient of coronavirus, Omicron, there is no end to the pandemic in sight.

It will be some time before we can place the challenges and obstacles to business that 2021 threw up into any order of importance but staff shortages must be close to the top of the list. The driver shortage has long been a problem but the loss of drivers from the EU drmatically escalated the crisis. Then, just as Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in July, workers who had been near to someone who later tested positive were ‘pinged’ with alerts from an NHS Covid-19 App, forcing tens of thousands to self-isolate.

The relaxation of self-isolation rules eased the problem somewhat, but not for truck driver shortages.New rules for EU hauliers, coupled with poor working conditions, red tape and a backlog at driving test centres, left the UK with a stark deficit of people qualified to get behind the wheel of delivery lorries. Supermarket shelves began to look sparse. The food crisis soon subsided but underlying supply chain problems remain an ever-present threat.

But for much of the business community, relations with government were strained, raising question marks over the Tories’ claim to be the “party of business”. First there was a Brexit-related plunge in trade during January, then the announcement of an upcoming rise in corporation tax to 25% and a national insurance hike to fund health and social care, which has been condemned as a tax on workers.

The economy grew sharply from the depths plumbed in 2020 but the recovery remains fragile. What the business community needed was a strong signal from government that there was a plan, a firm hand at the tiller, some certainty to cling to.

Instead, prime minister Boris Johnson gives a rambling speech to the CBI that made no mention of Inflation at a ten-year high of 5.1% with little sign of abatement. Brexit remains a drag, with an Institute of Directors survey finding that one-third of affected members say they aren’t ready for stricter customs checks that come into effect on 1 January 2022.

Which is where we start this year’s news.

WORLD NEWS

Lineage Logistics acquires three Benelux operators

Amsterdam, Netherlands: Lineage Logistics has bought Van Tuyl Logistics, H&S Coldstores and Frigocare Rotterdam. These acquisitions, for an undisclosed amount, grow Lineage’s presence in the …

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US: Volvo boosts electric truck range

Greensboro, NC, North Carolina, USA: Volvo Trucks has boosted the range of its VNR Electric by 85% increased range and added faster charging. The VNR …

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Driverless forklift trucks for Europe

Tokyo, Japan: VisionNav Robotics is to sell its automated, vision-guided forklift trucks and intelligent operating systems in Europe. The range includes driverless counterbalanced forklift trucks, …

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Wolter Koops takes 300 Advancers

Zeewolde, Netherlands: Wolter Koops, which transports fresh and frozen goods including food and flowers, has upgraded its fleet with 300 new Advancer A-400 fridges. “Reliability …

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