Europe-wide fuel demonstrations might win the transport and logistics industry sympathy, but they will do nothing to address the immediate issue faced by the supply chain - the need to counter the fuel price increases that threaten to put retail prices through the roof and hauliers out of business.
Even if local prices stabilise and the government cuts its fuel levies, internationally controlled oil prices will still leave manufacturers, distributors and retailers with a massive increase to their annual fuel bill of up to £5,000 per annum per lorry, according to estimates from the Road Haulage Association.
The only option the supply chain has is to dramatically cut the amount of fuel it uses. Since the 1980s, the number of road tonne kilometres travelled by distributors has rocketed from 93tkms to 167tkms each year, fuelled not only by greater choice of product, but by inefficiencies.
Huge new juggernauts regularly leave distribution centres half full. These can be substituted by smaller, more fuel efficient lorries. Transport logistics can be reviewed so trucks carry orders for multiple drop-offs. It is even possible, in this day of action against the oil multiples, for the retail giants to rally together and show their might by sharing uncontrollable costs such as fuel.
While none of these options can be implemented overnight, the elimination of error-picked products can be. Each year, hundreds of thousands of items are transported in error. The majority must be returned and replaced, tripling the mileage and fuel cost of that item.
When you consider the average cost of managing the return of a single item is £250, these mistakes will not only cost the supply chain, they will hit the end-user .
In this day of sophisticated warehouse management systems and customisable voice picking solutions there is no excuse for errors at the point of order fulfilment. Protests might have little impact on the controlling of costs, but smart order fulfilment will.