Multimodal 2018 news roundup


What are the hot topics from Multimodal 2018, the UK’s largest transport and logistics conference, which took place in Birmingham from 1-3 May? We’ve rounded up some of the news coming out of this year’s conference.


Brexit and digital disruption dominate at Multimodal 2018 [IFL]

Brexit uncertainty together with digital transformation/disruption were the two main topics of conversation at Multimodal 2018, the annual UK’s freight and logistics conference held at the NEC in Birmingham earlier this month – with the degree of uncertainty around the Customs Union in particular making it impossible for transport and logistics firms to prepare ahead for leaving the European Union next March.

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Brexit: prepare for the worst warns Freight Transport Association (FBJ]
Businesses need to plan for a worst-case scenario after Brexit with no transition period, the UK excluded from EU trade deals, duties, quotas, burdensome rules of origin and delays at borders, Freight Transport Association (FTA) experts told a seminar at Multimodal on 2 May. A crucial meeting in June could decide the UK’s future fate, they added.

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Brexit expected to increase supply chain complexity [Air Cargo News]

During a Multimodal session on Brexit, Peter MacSwiney, chairman of Agency Sector Management (ASM) and co-chair of the Joint Customs Consultative Committee (JCCC) Brexit sub group said that politicians hoped that technology would be able to offset any new supply chain complexity caused by the exit from the EU. However, he was sceptical: “We are unpicking everything that has been established over the last 40 years.”

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Brexit Manifesto [Freight Transport Association]

The FTA launched a Brexit manifesto to outline what logistics needs to make a success of Brexit. It features 10 key asks, including calls for: freight movements between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland not to be impeded by border control checks or by protracted administration procedures; seamless trade with the EU with no tariffs or quotas in place and no additional administrative formalities, checks and delays at the border; and the ability to retain EU workers currently employed by the UK logistics sector in light of the current labour shortages.

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Post-Brexit port checks could disrupt fresh food supplies, say freight bosses [Guardian]

Food staples could be in short supply or even disappear from supermarket shelves after Brexit because of disruptive checks that will need to be conducted at ports, Eurotunnel and freight industry chiefs have said. Scores of continental favourites that currently sail and rail through the French border… will be subject to phytosanitary checks in addition to customs checks after Brexit.

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Looking back to the future of a Perishables Brexit at Multimodal [Cool Logistics]

The prospect of a scenario involving no transitional deal sent cold shivers through the audience yet also there were some surprising new insights about how Brexit could be made to work for perishables such as fresh produce, protein, pharmaceuticals etc. and how the logistics sector would make it all work, come next March.

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Skills shortage

Logistics industry faces shortage of skilled employees (Transport Weekly]

Logistics companies are being plagued by a shortfall in young talent, with experts in the UK saying the industry needs an additional 1.2 million employees by 2022. Career Ready head Ian Nichol said: “We need the industry to channel its knowledge and enthusiasm because at the moment very few actually understand what the logistics industry is. Too many people think that it’s about driving trucks and working in sheds, and there are a lot of parents who don’t want their kids to go into that profession.”

NOVUS operations manager Bethany Fovargue added that … the critical age group for employers to attract potential recruits was now in the 14-year-old age range.

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Freight forwarding apprenticeships set to address UK’s skills shortage [The Loadstar]

The British International Freight Association (BIFA) has urged UK freight forwarders to take advantage of the newly authorised freight forwarding apprentice scheme to address the industry’s skills shortage problem. BIFA training development manager Carl Hobbis explained that the recent official approval from the Institute of Apprenticeships for the BIFA-supported Trailblazer group forwarding apprentice scheme should give the UK’s freight forwarding industry the capacity to attract far more young people into the sector than it has been able to do in the past.

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Digital disruption

Multimodal 2018: Shipping Risks Tech Disruption ‘Squash’ [Port Technology]

Technology providers have urged shippers and freight forwarders to embrace the wave of digitization and disruption that is sweeping the logistics and supply chain industries, or face “getting squashed”.

Speaking during the ‘Digital disruption – how logistics is changing and what you can do about it’ panel on the first day of Multimodal 2018, Simon Clark, Vice President of Business Development for Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) at WiseTech Global, asserted that some two-thirds of UK warehouses do not even operate a warehouse management system.

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UK freight strategy

Multimodal 2018: BPA Pushes for New UK Freight Strategy [Port Technology]

Speaking at the Freight Transport Association’s ‘What’s new in modal shift’ seminar at Multimodal, British Ports Association’s Chief Executive, Richard Ballantyne, expressed his frustration at the lack of development: “We have been pressing Government to produce a new national ‘freight strategy’ covering all transport modes. Built into that could be some renewed consideration of coastal shipping opportunities.

“With a strong selection of over 140 active cargo handling ports spread around the UK and new environmental pressures on the transport network, such as in relation to congestion and air quality, coastal shipping could certainly become more viable.”

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