TPN Chairman, Owen Cooke, was interviewed recently by Simon Carswell for The Irish Times about Brexit preparation. Those interviewed for the piece include the Irish Exporters Association, the Irish International Freight Association, and ISME (Irish Small & Medium Enterprises Association). All have expressed alarm at the lack of appropriate warehousing capacity available with a no-deal Brexit seeming more and more likely by the day.
“There is a very, very little capacity anywhere in the supply chain and October is the peak in general terms in all sectors so if there was a crash-out then, all hell would break loose.”
As the first part of a €500k fleet upgrade, Renault Trucks Ireland delivered a new tractor unit to Independent Express last month.
The investment shows our Dublin member’s commitment to growing and improving despite the current business climate. 2019 may prove to be a challenging year for Irish transport, due to Brexit and the potential disruption for our customers’ regular routes and supply lines.
Barry Mullen worked for TPN for 10 years as a driver in the Dublin area, and was one of the top drivers there. The customers loved him. We were well aware that he spent all his free cash on learning to fly.
When Barry sold his camper van to raise money to get a commercial licence, we didn’t take much notice. We believed flying was a hobby, and Barry would continue to drive for us well into the future.
We could well understand why he loved flying, but when he came us to ask for a loan of €20,000 to cover his study, exams, and finals as a commercial pilot our first reaction was – why would we do this to lose our best driver? On reflection, we thought that if this guy in his mid-forties has the ambition and determination to follow his dream and go for this, that we should help him and not get in his way.
So we gave him the money and were not sure that we would ever get it back. But Barry made all repayment stages on their due dates. When he finally left to go into full-time training, the repayments kept coming.
Barry’s love of flying has not diminished now that it’s his job. As he commented, “I still can’t believe they pay me to do this”. We’re not sure he ever said that about delivering pallets but who can blame him for that!
Hearty congratulations to the Moylagh team who have made it to their first junior championship football final in eighteen years. They face Meath Hill at Páirc Tailteann, Navan, on October 8th 2017. Throw in is at 14:15.
An Maolach Abú!
This is a recent article from The Irish Times, printed on Dec 24th 2015, about the mindblowingly useless Eircode postcode implemented in Ireland during the summer of 2015.
The pattern has become all too familiar. An Irish government rolls out a system which has been very poorly designed despite having gone through an incredibly expensive consultation process. The concerns of Irish people and Irish businesses who would most benefit from a well-designed system have been ignored. When are we going to learn from our regular national failings?
Two quotes in the piece from Verona Murphy and Neil McDonnell sum up the feeling in the transport industry :
Neil McDonnell, general manager of the Freight Transport Association of Ireland, whose members include the global delivery firms DHL and FedEx, says that as far as he knows, none of the association’s members is using the code. “The nature of a postcode as a random code is the significant problem. It is essentially a social security number for a property,” says McDonnell. “The code itself is a meaningless construct.”
Describing it as “worthless”, Irish Road Haulage Association’s president Verona Murphy says it was designed “as a system that only An Post could use” and it is “useless” for anyone else. “There was no input from those whom it’s supposed to service.”
Our yellow vehicles might be best known in the Emerald Isle, but TPN is fast gaining a reputation as the company to go to for international transport. “Imports from the UK have increased massively over the last two years,” says John Donnelly, who with Matt Flint and Paul Massey run the International Department. “we used to struggle to fill two double- decker trailers per night; now we handle three full double-deckers every day.”
“Although the improved economy has helped, the increased volumes have raised our profile, so people know about us and start coming to TPN for UK shipments. And some of the imports originate elsewhere in Europe, coming into TPN UK before being transferred onto trailers bound for Ireland.”
Export volumes are not quite as great, but over 100 pallets per night leave Ireland for the UK, compared to 150 pallets coming in from the UK.
“We’re starting to do more full loads, part loads, and out of guage freight. These jobs involve moving pallets, but we also handle non-palletised cargo such as machinery, which we move through external partners.”
And while shipments to and from the UK form the bulk of the International Department’s work, freight forwarding is also becoming an important source of revenue. Weekly services are offered to all countries in Europe in conjunction with partners, most of whom have had a long relationship with Independent Express and then TPN.
“Some partners cover a number of countries, such as Southern Europe, Benelux or Scandinavia,” explains Paul. “We develop good relationships with a wide range of international providers and as we carry out Irish distribution for them, they want to give us a good service.
“Most of the departures are on Friday or Saturday, but Monday and Thursday are popular too. We can run a groupage service on any day of the week, if there is sufficient demand. Germany is a big export destination for us, with Italy being a major source of imports.”
Deep-sea shipments are growing, too, with two or three customers importing from China every month, regular exports to the US and a number of exports into Greece and the UAE.
“We export a lot of seaweed for fertilising golf courses, especially to the US,” adds Paul.
Although the International Department is more than happy to arrange airfreight shipments, these are, says Paul, ‘occasional’, although three-five parcel jobs per week come through the department.
“We’re hoping to increase volumes from network members,” Paul emphasises. “There are plenty of opportunities for members to take their customer’s European and long-haul business: it’s just a case of making sure everyone knows about our international capabilities.
The IRHA is lobbyig the government to develop a driver apprentice scheme for HGV drivers. “The average age of a truck driver today is 48,” says Verona Murphy, president of the IRHA. “Young people are not coming into the industry: they see it as anti-social and governed by too much legislation. at the same time, demand for drivers is increasing.
“We want a driver apprenticeship scheme launched within the next 12 months to be fully funded by the government and hauliers will commit to employing apprentices in their business. Statistics show that 90% of apprentices continue to work with their employer beyond the official apprentice period. we want young people from the age of 17 – both men and women – to gain a professional qualification for driving heavy goods vehicles.” although there are other training opportunities available – from motoring schools, the Road Safety Authority, education and training boards and the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport Ireland – none offer a comprehensive programme covering all aspects of a HGV operation.
The apprenticeship scheme would increase the number of HGV drivers with relevant licenses and training coming into the industry, improvethe image of professional HGV drivers so that haulage would be recognised as a profession, rather than a trade; and provide a career path of progression and transferable skills for those who complete the course.
Core modules could cover road safety, safe driving practice and knowledge of vehicle operation and maintenance, but the scheme would also look at a range of driver-related activities, such as customs requirements, vehicle technology and telematics, and how hgv driving fits into multi-modal transport and the logistics chain.The three-year scheme would include on-the-job training, as well as classroom sessions.
The IRHA’s proposals, written by Johnathan Moloney and Seamus McGowan, IRHA treasurer and MD of TPN, has the support of a number of industry organisations, including the Irish International Freight Association, Road Safety Authority, CLF, IEA and CILT, as well as truck manufacturer Scania and TPN. It is expected that the government will give feedback on the proposal by the end of July.
Verona Murphy has become only the second woman president of the Irish Road Haulage Association as Eoin Gavin of Eoin Gavin Transport, Depot 130, finished four years at the wheel of the industry’s guardian body.
“I will still be involved in running the Irha,” says Eoin, who completed two, two-year terms, “but I wanted to give someone else a chance to guide hauliers and lobby the government for fairer treatment for transport companies.I think my greatest achievement was bringing the Irha back to its former glory of being a major lobby group,it is the only representative of the haulage industry in government. In November 2013, our lobbying convinced the government to introduce a fuel rebate for every haulier,which put €4,000 per truck per year back into the haulier’s pockets.
“But there are still major issues to address, chief among them being a reduction in road tax and a change in the way hauliers are taxed in general. We also need to ensure paritywith foreign hauliers, our members are charged £10 everytime they cross the border into Northern Ireland, but UK-registered hauliers can enter the Republic free of charge.”
Verona Murphy is well aware of the needs of hauliers. “The biggest issue is road tax,” she agrees. “The government has not moved forward with the industry; transport law and the way the industry is taxed remains the same as it was in 1956. Tax is based on unladen weight, whereas in the UK, trucks are taxed on gross vehicle weight. In addition, there are 20 different types of trailers and the haulier has to know the weight each one might be expected to pull. Hauliers have to guess the weight, so are likely to get it wrong at least some of the time. Worse still, the law says each haulier has to be taxed based on its heaviest trailer ,even though the company might have a complete mix of vehicles.
“We feel the law is ambiguous and draconian. The IRHA has lobbied the government very hard for a review of roadtax. We want to see a €900 annual tax for artics and €500 tax for other vehicles.”
Other issues Verona wants to tackle during her term as president include the development of an apprentice scheme (see page 5), recruiting young drivers to replace an ageing workforce, and the introduction of an entry charge for UK drivers crossing into Ireland, in the hope the two governments would then cancel all charges for crossing the border.
Legislation should change, too, she says. “For example,”she explains, “after 12 points, a driver will lose their license – and that includes points incurred when driving their car, rather than a truck. A driver can get three points just for being one-half a kilometre over the speed limit. We want to see drivers able to amass 24 points before losing a license, to reduce the time points stay on a license, and to have two licenses – one for car drivers and one for HGV drivers.
Verona has 25 years’ experience in the industry and currently is a partner in Drumur Transport, Co. Wexford. After starting off in farming, she bought a truck in 1993 and worked as a sole trader, driving both within Ireland and to Continental Europe, before starting Drumur Transport in 2010
Pictured from left to right are : Catherine de Courcy – author of “TPN : 10 Years On”, Eoin Gavin – President of the IRHA, and Owen Cooke – Chairman of TPN.
The Pallet Network, Ireland’s largest freight distribution service for palletised goods, launched the book ‘TPN: 10 Years On – The Story of Ireland’s Largest Pallet Network’ on Saturday, 6th December 2014 at the Clyde Court Hotel in Dublin.
In the book, author Catherine de Courcy charted the history of each of the 23 member hauliers, and how The Pallet Network has grown ten-fold in the past decade in spite of the country’s worst ever recession.
The Pallet Network is a revolutionary business model, where hauliers work together to provide each other with an overnight nationwide service for palletised freight. Each of the hauliers works within their own territory. Members bring their freight to the sortation hub nightly and return with their fellow-members’ freight for delivery in their territory.
Seamus McGowan, Managing Director, The Pallet Network said: “We are delighted to launch this book, which is a celebration of ten years of the pallet networks and one of the few books ever to be published about the haulage industry in Ireland. Throughout the last decade, members of TPN have shown courage and determination in breaking the mould and changing the way the haulage industry works in Ireland. It is important we congratulate these members on the part they have played in the success of the network, as well as chart the human stories in an industry where history is not well documented.”
In the foreword to the book, Pascal Donohue TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport said: “It is with pleasure that I congratulate TPN, The Pallet Network and all of its members on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the innovative transport network. The road transport industry carries out a vital function in Ireland, where the great majority of goods transported around the country are carried by road. Persevering through the challenging economic times, the Pallet Network has become an important participant in the sector, providing customers with a range of quality services. My Department is committed to supporting the road transport sector and I wish TPN, The Pallet Network every success with this publication and their future business.”
Next year, TPN will launch its new network, The Parcel Network. Applying the same model, they will provide an overnight delivery service to the 32 counties of Ireland. TPN also forecast that there will be 5,000 pallets going through the network each night by 2018, and plans to start work on a third pallet handling facility.