As of 28/05/2020
This week has been the busiest since March but still double figure percentage down, looks like this is the new norm for the time being.
We are having imbalance issues from republic of Ireland i.e much more going in than coming out which is quite concerning whereas Northern Ireland is more buoyant.
The biggest challenge remains to be day to day unpredictability.
Today, we have been updating our risk analysis for the rest of the year. Looking at the potential of second wave of COVID-19 in same the timescale as Brexit associated panic buying and bad weather. A worst case scenario.
We are now entering into dialogue on the subject with many customers who could be impacted, whilst we cannot impact what happens re above we can plan for and therefore mitigate risk.
We again have adjusted our resources in line with demand, the decline is slowing down but it’s still present.
Very important we hear more detail around the furlough scheme as soon as possible as we plan for the future.
For the rest of this year our MD Alan Miles, believes revenue on a like for like basis will be down 10% plus on pre March 2020 levels. However we need to be conscious of 2 potential spikes:
- A second Covid 19 wave
- Brexit Impact
This week we have seen some growth back into the market in certain sectors – Ex Northern Ireland to UK.
Though ex Republic of Ireland to UK been very quiet, the increase in activity ex Northern Ireland is opening up of gardening centers in England.
With some construction reopening again in England, we have seen some growth in our parts work for construction machinery.
All other areas of the business remains either flat or in negative percentage territory.
Following the government announcements on Sunday:
What does it mean for Maxi Haulage? Think it is broadly no change circumstances.
We are still in a downward demand cycle and have to plan accordingly
There has been a real spike in business on 6th and 7th in our Groupage network. Other business fairly flat.
Today’s major issue was the Belfast – Heysham ship Stena Scotia broke down this morning and didn’t leave port, initial reports were it may take 24 hrs to repair and due to quay congestion couldn’t discharge.
Naturally, we communicated this to customers as one kick on effect was there would be no Heysham – Belfast service at 2100 on May 6th.
Something like this has a major cost impact for the business and adds significant empty running and cost.
The ship got fixed early and is due in Heysham at 0400 on May 7th but damage already done as loads rebooked and more empty movements for us.
The question that everyone keeps asking are we at the bottom of the cycle yet? I don’t believe we are.
We are still seeing week by week decline in almost all sectors, where foods was showing growth, it to is in decline.
Stock levels must be quite high in many peoples own homes, the market remains jittery, the imbalance is still a major problem as is consumer confidence.
We are still at a stage of consolidation but from a strong financial base.
We would ship around 1000 loads a week to and from Ireland, so any change to the shipping industry would have major impact on us. Currently there is way more supply then there is demand.
This puts a lot of financial stress on our shipping company friends, there was an article in the Sunday telegraph this week, the government are appointing an advisor to look at government support for one particular company. It simply would not be fair to support one and not the others.
It creates a dilemma that has big implications for all of us. Does the market sort itself out or do government decide who remains? Big implications for all of us
The end of a very eventful month, more challenges and changes in last 4 weeks than the last 4 years, as ever we have to balance reaction to planning.
In most areas of our business, I think for the time being we are approaching the bottom of the cycle but we’re a long way from expected business levels for this time of year.
A few other interesting points:
- In the last week there has been increased border force inspection of our trailers ex Ireland
- Increased customs checks in Dublin port
- The fact we are having a bank holiday on a Friday next week is throwing out some strange forecasts
Lets all hope May is a better month than April
One of the on going challenges we have is predicting workload and therefore ensuring enough resource in place. Where in the past we would look to history to see has what happened around the same time last year, that no longer works.
This week we had a busy Monday, very quiet Tuesday and Wednesday, now looks very busy for both Thursday and Friday.
It was good news to hear the government giving 17 million pounds to support the ferry industry into N.Ireland
It is needed and well deserved, we continue to adapt to demand, some parts of business down and some are on the way back up.
The one sure thing is almost impossible to predict daily accurately. We believe we are now moving to a period where demand will be heavier on a Monday/Tuesday, with weekends in particular very quiet.
We updated the government furlough website for first week of our impacted workers, so far so good on this
Our government deserve great praise for setting this up, this will have undoubtedly saved jobs.
We did more internal work on preparations for gradual return to normal work patterns but this still feels a long way off.
Also revisited Brexit planning. We’ve tried to put models into place to plan for if a second wave of covid19 happened at same time as run up to Brexit. Let us hope these are plans we never have to use.
Business levels to Ireland have increased again this week. Unfortunately no growth ex Ireland which means more empty shipping.
Today is also a first for us, next Monday we will be bringing back the first of our furloughed workers. Hopefully the sign of things to come.
Maybe the light at the end of the tunnel, however it could be a false dawn.
Another new week, the big question is are we near the bottom of the cycle?
Alan miles our managing director, believes maybe another 2/3 weeks till we reach there. The good news is the slowdown has over last few days actually slowed down.
Some of our truck manufacturing customers are starting up production again on a limited basis, some light at ten end of the tunnel.
Another day another challenge, today we had some trailers stuck on the P&O ferries ship sailing to Dublin from Liverpool.
Due to a dispute with the port owners peel ports P&O have now cancelled services on the route indefinitely, the ship will discharge on 16th April PM.
We will then have to collect the trailers and reroute elsewhere – an added complication we don’t need
The other challenge of the day was protecting cash flow, a few accounts are now late, we have to take a zero tolerance approach to this and take appropriate action.
We remain paying our suppliers on time.
Some more sailings have been cancelled, the Birkenhead to Belfast services on Saturday and Sunday AM have now been cancelled.
As has the Heysham to Belfast Friday PM service. To plan for this, it impacts immediately and we have to change our routes into England well in advance to ensure no unit only movements come the weekend. Today has also been the quietest day of the crisis.
Northern Ireland has now confirmed a further 3 weeks of lock down, this has further put back some of our key customers opening up again EX Ireland.
Our attention over the weekend break has been to looking at what potentially happens at the end of the COVID-19 crisis.
We have been consulting some key customers, working on volume models including balance profiles particularly ex Ireland, trying to model how quickly some flows will return. Also factoring in all the lessons we have learnt in the past few weeks.
The one thing that is sure we will not simply return to where we were.
At times like this we have to protect cash flow, so a lot of effort has gone into sorting out any accounts queries.
Whilst it is important we get our cash in, it is also imperative that we will keep paying our suppliers on times.
So we are reminding all our suppliers to get invoices in on time. We are all in this together.
As the crisis in the UK logistics sector manifests itself, the main issue for today has been the understandable cancellation of significant shipping sailings into Ireland
So we have been busy re-planning and communicating to customers.
Every sector of our business has different pressure points so we need to be very creative in taking cost out whilst maintaining service, this challenge will intensify over the Easter period as we see workload declining.
Looks like a busy start to the week, volumes appear to be up by 10% compare to last week.
We are expecting to be busy through to Thursday.
People off sick seems to have stabilized.
Weekend – 04/04 – 05/04:
It has been a much calmer week, we may have hit the new norm. We are expecting a busy Monday to Thursday.
Then a very quiet Easter period, much quieter than normal. Post Easter is anyone’s guess.
We have to keep our resource flexible, that is the single biggest challenge we face. One thing we are very proud of is that we are continuing paying our suppliers on time
Most customers are likewise paying us on time, a very small number are not and we will take appropriate action.
For first time in a number of weeks, time is freeing up to try and look ahead at what will be our new normal, post corona virus
We have asked Alan Miles, our MD. for any thoughts:
We have never had so much contact with customers over Skype and Microsoft office, this is the new normal and also I think air travel will decline
Stock holding will increase, The crisis has encouraged everyone to maximize efficiency so full loads are more frequent
Double Deckers will grow again to ensure no structural imbalances, We will all need to be more careful with how we use our cash
Today we have been planning our Easter program, specific challenges are understanding which shipping services to Ireland will be cancelled, also what customer demand will be.
This is where we will struggle as it’s a step into the unknown, all of our services, except our truck delivery business, are fully operational.
Our volumes are currently running at 20% below what would have been normal at this time of year.
Another day another challenge, with reduced shipping volumes going to Ireland some shipping sailings have been cancelled. This is understandable as the ferry industry desperately needs our support and the governments support.
It means we need to reschedule some key trunk timings, this also means we need to reschedule out Easter program. This is likely to change everyday now.
Our first batch of furloughed staff have left us today and we all look forward to the day that they can all return.
Also give a thought to the rental companies, we don’t have many rented vehicles, we did have 4, but these had all now been de-hired.
Likewise on tautliners, we are dehiring all of these as well but only around 10.
A very different week so far, much quieter and their are also no backlogs.
We have started the process of furloughing some of our staff, so far 11 people are in the first phase
It is very difficult to be clear what the trends will be over the next 2 weeks, one thing for certain, it will not be as busy as last the past 2 weeks has been.
I suspect volumes with fluctuate significantly week by week. Therefore, we have to match that in our resource levels.
We are now towards end of another week, this is what we are seeing:
- The Demand is reducing
- We hopefully will have cleared backlog over the weekend
- Now we have to try and forecast what next week will be like
- We have to reflect the new reality into the new level of resource
- All we can do is look 1 week ahead
On some of our parts customers we are reducing frequency on a pre-agreed basis, Imbalance remains the biggest challenge.
The haulage industry needs support but so do the ferry companies, they are probably in an even worse predicament than hauliers as their costs for freight are mostly fixed.
We all remain working crazy hours, we’re trying to maximise service and expectations, whilst trying to be fair to our workforce.
Drivers are of course at the front end of all activity and they are increasingly finding it difficult to find places to eat whist out on the road.
Our Managing Director, Alan Miles has tried to get help from customers with only limited success.
We have written to our customers today with a view to limiting people touching paperwork/pods ideally we want to stop the process but for time being drivers will sign own paperwork.
After much searching we finally manged to get some hand sanitiser, we’ve also had many wonderful supporting e mails from our customers.
One or two customers not so happy . I accept communication can always be better but our staff have had to take a fair amount of abuse but otherwise have remained very calm in difficult situations.
We now think demand may have peaked due to combination of people having stocked up, more rationing has been put into place. We’re experiencing trying to book in loads, however there is no stock available.
Today has been probably the day with biggest changes, we’ve had quite a number of loads ex Ireland that were unable to deliver due to the delivery points closing.
Also some of our parts delivery points have closed.
Our biggest challenge remains the economics of trying to operate in a fast changing world where imbalance in flows are intensifying meaning previous work that was economic no longer is. We are now actively planning for likely reduced consignments on our parts business.
We are still operating normally with relatively small amount of people off work
We have had to apply some surcharges on our work to Ireland, this is due to the growing imbalance ex Ireland.
All of the impacted customers have been contacted, we have updated all major customers on the risks and challenges for the week ahead.
Where any changes/restrictions have been put in place, each individual customer has been contacted.
An issue that we need help with from our customers, is feeding our tramping drivers as cafes and service stations restrict sale of meals.
Weekend period is really important
We have given an update to all our staff, we’ve also analysed the success and challenges that we had last week.
We are also looking ahead to see what we can do to improve the turn round of trailers.
Key questions for week ahead:
- How many more back load points will close this week?
- Will the channel tunnel have many delays for our inbound trailers?
- What parts of business will decline for example our truck and bus delivery business will be adversely impacted given factory closures in France, Sweden and Belgium
Whereas, the part of business serving the supermarkets and chemists, we expect even more demand this week.
Keep safe everyone.
Same as yesterday, there has been no change to our available resources, we remain fully operational in all sectors of our business.
It is important for all of our customers to understand what the restraining factors to capacity are. The major restricting factor is imbalances significantly increasing, the Irish market is seeing high demand into Ireland but lower demand ex Ireland.
This means to service the additional work to Ireland, we’re shipping back to the UK empty, the same is applying to traffic demand to Scotland, very high with lower demand ex Scotland.
Our main operational issues are:
- Delays at the French side of the Euro-tunnel, meaning inbound trucks are getting delayed
- Continuing difficulty getting collection an delivery slots that tie up fast
- Delays at delivery points are causing late collections
- Ensuring trailer turnaround is kept at an acceptable level
There has been no change of any significance to either drivers being off and staff being off, we continue being fully operational.
Speaking to our Managing Director Alan Miles, he explains how we are adapting to the new challenges:
- Many of us are working 16 hour days
- Communication is vital as demand is higher than supply
- Almost half the day is taken up on conference calls
We have to react to events, for an example this morning, one of our normal parts vans that runs to collect in Belgium was denied access to the channel tunnel by French authorities, this then took 2hrs of dialogue to sort.
Managing expectations continues to be very important.
We are not seeing any increased driver sickness, the staff situation has stabilised as well.
The business demand remains at 70 percent up.
At the moment, we remain in a backlog situation for trailers to Ireland.
The only changes we are seeing are:
- Additional delays at tipping points
- Inbound trailers from Europe have been delayed
There are some driver hours regulation changes for the short term, we are currently briefing our drivers accordingly
We continue to operate from all of our sites, the demand remains extremely high.
We are now having to put capacity restraints in place, such as accepting orders.
This is due to high demand, not due to any significant shortage of resource. Today we have 4 drivers off which is just over 1 percent.
7 office staff are also off which is a higher percentage compared to the drivers.
No-one has been confirmed with the coronavirus but we are all taking precautionary measures
Our major limiting factors we have is trailer availability. We can ship and deliver customers trailers for ferries if ferry compliant.
It will come as no surprise to tell you that in all parts of our business demand is up, as of recently the sectors that have had the biggest increase are:
- Deliveries to Ireland
- Deliveries to Scotland
- Supermarket Associated Work
We’ve seen an increase of the demand up to 60% – We have shared our contingency plans with all of our major customers, but this will change with any events that happen.
Some of the important measures that we are now introducing:
- Groupage from March 23rd we will not be delivering to everywhere everyday, instead we will be operating to geographic deliveries on set days
- Nowhere will have less than 2 deliveries a week and nowhere more than 4
- From March 30th we may set minimum delivery criteria, one of the concerns we have is there may be diverted parcels work from some of our customers should any parcel network fail
- Strict policy on payment terms it is essential cashflow is maintained
- On full loads, we will have to restrict what we do and are in dialogue with customers accordingly
- To maximise trailer availability for next week we have suspended putting anything other than legal necessity trailers in for MOT
- Some key staff are working from home
Should anyone wish to discuss any of this, our Managing Director Alan Miles is available.
We will be giving regular updates from today on-wards.