In 2021, two clicks are enough to satisfy the slightest consumerist impulse. We often forget that between our mice and the producer, an army of men and women take up the challenge of transportation to guarantee ever more competitive delivery times. However, freight transport suffers from a poor image. Focus on the drivers of the shadow.
Delivery is not just a service, it is an ally of our western lifestyle. To optimize our travels and save precious time, we all use delivery people. To eat, learn, entertain or even clothe us, a series of little hands and big arms work night and day to guarantee ever faster delivery times.
In France, truck drivers account for 89% of freight transit. Without them, no household could fill its shopping cart, no factory could produce. As the 4th largest employer in France, the transport and logistics sector employs 1.9 million passionate men and women. But as in all essential and decried professions, such as in the restaurant industry or in mass distribution, transporters are struggling to recruit. According to INSEE, 53% of transport and logistics companies are facing a shortage of staff. These jobs, which are not highly regarded, are not the stuff of dreams. Yet the range of their activity is much richer than squeezing right for hours.
At Goëvia, 90% of the drivers deliver in New Aquitaine. They carry out what is called regional distribution, in short distance, that is to say not more than 350 km per day. This means deliveries and pick-ups of pallets at a dozen points per day, sometimes many more!
Each time a new shipment is booked on our website, an intense logistical process takes place, made possible by the close cooperation between our transport experts and our customers. Very early in the morning, after checking the overall condition of their truck and making an ingenious tetris in their 13-meter long trailer, the drivers head for the industrial areas. Each warehouse, as cold as it may appear from the outside, is teeming with life on the inside. At 7 o’clock in the morning, at a customer’s store, employees with teenage faces are working hard while listening to Eminem. Also affected by the lack of recruitment, the person in charge solicits Stéphane, our driver from Bordeaux, to unload his cargo. This task is not his to perform, but in order not to fall behind in his rounds he grabs the electric pallet truck and unloads the 18 pallets of fresh produce. If he doesn’t, he risks delaying his next delivery. Mutual aid and good will are needed at every step.
During a tour, the HGV driver receives several calls from the company, which is anxious to optimize its routes as much as possible in order to deliver to customers in a hurry to receive their goods. In direct contact with our sales representatives and delivery personnel, our operations agents are informed in real time of our customers’ needs. Each trip is tracked for shipment. No palette is lost from sight. In addition, delivery drivers are dependent on traffic, business hours and must absolutely limit unnecessary travel that would increase their carbon footprint.
Arriving at 1:30 p.m. in the warehouse of a food giant, David, a seasoned driver, is in line with several delivery men. A hazard of the trade that delays him. While waiting for the green light from the dock agent in charge of this delivery, he agrees with the secretary to call him on his cell phone as soon as the situation is unblocked, so that he can ensure a pick-up in the same geographical area. In 30 minutes, he will have successfully completed a pool product pickup while the retail customer processes his unloading request. Reacting quickly to unforeseen circumstances that would delay all deliveries is part of our daily routine.
Tightrope walkers on the road
Our roads were not designed as runways. From the sight of missing branches on the trees, you can tell that the 44-ton truck has been passing by frequently. A freight driver delivers to all types of companies that are arranged and equipped very differently. For example, when delivering windows to a construction site, our Goëvia driver found himself in front of a building full of workers ready to pour the screed. Agreeing with the person in charge, he backed his blind trailer onto the muddy ground and landed in front of the garage door of this company, which was in the process of being built. The kind of maneuver you don’t learn in training. For another company, it simply cannot park and it is forbidden to deliver on the road. The customer should have specified that it was to be delivered by a light vehicle. But a smile can often open doors. Those of the truck, in this case, will open despite the slight inconvenience caused. Quickly and safely, without blocking other road users, the customer gets his cargo and the delivery man hits the road again. The conditions are not always favorable which can make the maneuver more sportive than expected. Finding solutions to all these daily imponderables (work, colleague who delivers at the same time, quality of the ground that leaves something to be desired, bad weather, equipment breakage) is part of the qualities of our road experts. Self-confidence is also an asset. For his fresh produce deliveries, Stephane made slots in sloping, narrow aisles, all at night in a poorly lit industrial area.
Concentrated and methodical, the truck drivers are as eager to deliver as the consumer is to get out of the supermarket queue. They use the roads every day and know which roads are congested and which risky behaviors to avoid. When driving a 44-ton truck, one mistake can lead to serious damage, so road safety is never a joke. On the ring road, Stéphane always drives on the right side of the road to make sure he doesn’t hit any cars that would overtake him. But semi-trailers can’t always be small. On some occasions, David imposes himself at the entrance of a traffic circle in the middle of the two lanes, even if it means annoying the motorists. This way, he can be sure that no one will try to pass him in his blind spots and that he will be able to get in the way. Vigilance is not an option but an imperative for these men of the shadows addicted to road safety.
Despite the responsibilities that drivers carry, participating in this large distribution chain does not make you shine in society. Yet without them the country would be paralyzed and everyone would be affected. In order to guarantee a quality service, it has become essential to enhance the value of the chain among transporters. Just like our consumer habits, the road transport world is changing. Faced with economic and ecological issues, the goods delivery driver faces new challenges every day. A job with a future, the driver is not just a road eater. Containment or not, he is always on the front line ready to work. The latest bestseller, local products or organic cotton tee-shirt, let’s not forget that the goods driver supplies all the shops we go to.