Independent Transport Commission launches UK freight analysis report

The report identifies important ways for the industry to improve efficiency

Today, the Independent Transport Commission (ITC) launched its interim report on ‘Freight and the UK Economy’, authored by Nick Gazzard, CEO, Incept Consulting.
Against a backdrop of rapid changes in global connectivity patterns and rising costs of environmental legislation, the report identifies important ways by which the UK freight and logistics industry – an employer of over 2m people with an estimated annual revenue of £75bn – might improve its efficiency.
Key trends shaping UK freight movements are as follows:

  • Growth in on-line shopping and commerce is fragmenting traditional supply chains
  • Re-shoring of production back from Asia to the USA and the EU (up to 50%)
  • The size of container ships is growing, complimented by the development of mega port hubs and port centric logistics, and
  • Sustainability policies are adding up to 20% to logistics costs.
  • When looking at ways in which the UK transport and logistics can extract greater operational efficiency, the report focuses on three interlinked areas:
  • Potential to reduce empty container movements
  • Innovative distribution from sea port estates, and
  • Potential of better urban freight distribution networks.

In an effort to ensure the UK is prepared for the anticipated changes in the global and domestic logistics supply chain, the ITC has made the following recommendations:
Empty domestic container movements – the ITC would like to scope out a case study exploring how we can reduce the movement of empty containers in the UK. Possible subjects of investigation include a study of containers in-and-out of Scotland to see if it is possible to reduce the current shortage of container supplies to the Scottish whisky industry.
Innovative urban distribution solutions – the ITC would like to hold further discussion sessions with the leading urban distribution providers, government advisers and local authorities to find urban freight distribution best practice and investigate whether innovative solutions can be found.
In-depth port centric distribution research – the ITC would like to commission further research work into case studies, either independently or collaboratively, which will be made available to planners and developers, including UK government departments.
Introducing common terminology – in partnership with the UK government, the ITC will convene a seminar with individuals from academia, logistics and transport industries to discuss the statistical challenges uncovered by this interim report in order to try and seek agreement on introducing common terminology. Subject to the feedback from the aforementioned seminar, the ITC will recommend where we need to plug identified data gaps.
Nick Gazzard, lead researcher for the study, will discuss the findings of the report and its recommendations with industry experts Perry Glading, Chief Operating Officer, Forth Ports (owner of the Port of Tilbury and Port of Grangemouth), Philip Roe, Managing Director Innovation, Strategy and Business Development, DHL and Professor Alan Braithwaite, Cranfield University, at a discussion evening on Wednesday 16 July 2014, 18:15, at the Alan Baxter Gallery, 75 Cowcross Street, London, EC1M 6EL.
Nicholas Finney OBE, Chairman of the Freight Working Group, Independent Transport Commission, commented on the interim report, saying: "This is a genuine first for the transport and logistics industry: a root-and-branch report, drawing together inter-connected issues that have thrown up significant, new insights into the importance to the UK economy of efficient freight operations and planning.
"The recommendations put forward by the interim report aim to tackle data gaps, develop a best practice industry approach in a fast-changing world, aided by a suite of new case studies for transport and logistics planners to help eliminate empty domestic container movements and deliver more efficient distribution patterns in ever crowded urban centres. The ITC looks forward to developing these work streams in the months ahead with our academic, logistics and transport industry partners.
"I commend this report to every policy maker who is remotely concerned with efficient logistics operations."
This research on freight and logistics forms part of a wider ITC research programme covering strategic issues including aviation strategy, the spatial impacts of High Speed Rail, trends in road and rail travel, reform of our roads and how we pay for them, and the fundamental motivations behind travel behaviour.