The 2024 trucking problem in Japan is a potential crisis that could affect the logistics industry and disrupt the delivery of goods and services. It is caused by a combination of factors, such as:
– A new law that will limit the overtime hours of truck drivers to 960 hours per year from April 2024. This law was enacted to protect the drivers from overwork and improve their working conditions, but it will also reduce the number of packages that each driver can handle.
– A shortage of truck drivers due to aging, low wages, and high turnover rates. The average age of truck drivers in Japan is 54, and many of them are expected to retire soon. The wages of truck drivers are about 20% lower than other industries, and some drivers may earn as little as 500 yen per hour. The turnover rate of truck drivers is also high, as many of them quit due to the heavy workload and long hours.
– A surge in demand for home deliveries due to the coronavirus pandemic. The number of deliveries made in 2020 increased by more than 500 million from 2019, an 11% rise. The pandemic also increased the rate of missed deliveries, as more people were staying at home or working remotely. Missed deliveries mean extra work and fuel consumption for the drivers, as well as lower customer satisfaction.
– A lack of coordination and cooperation among consignors, logistics companies, and consumers. Consignors are the businesses that send goods to customers, such as online retailers or manufacturers. Logistics companies are the ones that transport the goods using trucks or other vehicles. Consumers are the ones who receive the goods at their homes or offices. These three parties often have conflicting interests and expectations, and do not share information or resources efficiently. For example, consignors may impose tight deadlines or unreasonable demands on logistics companies, logistics companies may not pay fair wages or provide adequate training to drivers, and consumers may not be flexible or cooperative in receiving their packages.
The 2024 trucking problem in Japan is a serious challenge that requires urgent and comprehensive solutions. The government has drawn up a policy package to tackle the issue, which includes requiring consignors and logistics companies to submit improvement plans, promoting written contracts for drivers’ wages, offering shopping points for consumers who receive their packages on the first delivery, and raising public awareness over the issue. However, these measures may not be enough to prevent the collapse of distribution or ensure the sustainability of logistics operations. More innovative and collaborative approaches are needed, such as using digital technologies, improving infrastructure, diversifying transportation modes, and creating a culture of mutual respect and support among all stakeholders.
Here are some opportunities for innovation and improvement suggested by industry experts:
– Developing and adopting new technologies that can enhance the efficiency and safety of trucking operations. For example, using artificial intelligence, big data, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things to optimize routes, schedules, and loading capacities; using drones, robots, or autonomous vehicles to assist or replace human drivers; using blockchain or smart contracts to facilitate transactions and trust among stakeholders.
– Improving the infrastructure and environment that support trucking activities. For example, building more parking lots, rest areas, charging stations, or warehouses for trucks; creating dedicated lanes or corridors for trucks on highways or roads; implementing congestion pricing or toll systems to reduce traffic jams; promoting green logistics or circular economy to reduce emissions and waste.
– Diversifying the transportation modes and methods that can meet the demand for deliveries. For example, using trains, ships, planes, or bicycles to transport goods over long or short distances; using lockers, convenience stores, or smart boxes as alternative delivery points; using crowdsourcing, sharing economy, or social networks to mobilize resources and people for deliveries.
– Creating a culture and system that values and respects the truck drivers and their work. For example, raising the wages and benefits of truck drivers; providing better training and education for truck drivers; improving the working conditions and health of truck drivers; increasing the diversity and inclusion of truck drivers; encouraging communication and collaboration among consignors, logistics companies, drivers, and consumers.
Of course, above are not easy to achieve, and they require the cooperation and innovation of various actors in the logistics sector and beyond. But if they are pursued with vision and determination, they could transform the trucking industry and create a more sustainable and resilient society.
We at FWT Logistics are committed to establish platforms or systems that facilitate data sharing among all stakeholders, including consignors, logistics companies, drivers, and consumers. Transparent data sharing can lead to better planning and coordination.
By embracing these strategies, FWT Logistics intends to position itself as a proactive and forward-thinking player in the logistics industry, contributing to the resolution of the 2024 trucking problem in Japan and paving the way for a more efficient, sustainable, and resilient logistics ecosystem.