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A study of the European FTL sector has predicted that small, independent carriers will face increasing struggles as driver shortages continue into the future.

Produced by Prof. Peter Klaus of D.B.A./Boston University, the study concludes that independent truckload operators will increasingly come under pressure due to numerous factors exacerbating driver recruitment problems:

“So far, a very large share of the FTL capacity in Europe is provided by smaller, independent truckload operators, most of which are homebased in Eastern Europe. This group is increasingly coming under pressure. Their access to drivers willing to work for them is slowly dwindling due to irreversible demographic trends and the fact that alternative job opportunities to younger people in their home countries are becoming more available. They also experience growing difficulties of employing drivers from non-EU neighbor-countries due to reasons such as the new EU Mobility Package regulations, visa issues, health and quarantine requirements of the Corona pandemic.”

As a result of the aforementioned development, the study believes that two main trends in the European FTL industry are emerging.

The first trend relates to the “concentration and professionalization of the asset- and non-asset based providers of FTL capacity.”

This again regards the increasing competitive advantage that larger operators with more resources will have:

“The trend towards concentration and professionalization of the asset- and non-asset based providers of FTL capacity will continue, even accelerate in coming years. Their recruiting and human resource management skills, and their ability to select and balance load volumes for more efficient uses of their resources become more important. Against this competition, more small truck operators are withdrawing from the market, For those who can and do want to stay, they find increasing opportunities to commit to closely-knit dedicated relationships which the bigger non-asset providers.”

The second trend in the study’s conclusion is a reduction in flexibility related FTL Capacity:

“And shippers, finally, will have to accept that FTL capacity in the future will not be available as flexibly, as generously, and as low-cost as in previous years. Their contribution to relieving capacity shortages and bottlenecks can be in better forecasts of capacity needs, efforts to smooth their demand, and allowing for better alignment between the FTL capacity suppliers’ availability of resources and their own shipment scheduling. This way they will share in some of the risks and contribute to the future efficiency and sustainability of Europe’s logistics system.”

The paper can be read in full here.


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