Road transport shortage becomes more severe in Germany

Today’s shortage of truck drivers in Germany is likely to become even more of an issue over the next three years, according to participants at EUROMETAL’s International Steel Trade Day attended by Kallanish.

Currently there is an estimated shortage of 45,000 drivers in the country, according to Dirk Müller of Rheinkraft Logistics, with the figure forecast to reach 120,000 by 2020. The problem is worldwide, with shortages seen also in the USA and Brazil, for example. In Germany in particular, expiry of compulsory military service accounts for 25,000 people each year who used to pass their truck drivers’ licence in the services. These would then take up positions in the commercial market when having left the armed forces..

This decreases the growth both of individual and commercial traffic on the roads. It also creates some inertia in the maintenance of infrastructure, especially bridges, partly because the state is short of people assigned to such planning. The problem of maintenance extends to other forms of transport, such as to ports and rail terminals, Müller told the audience.

Today the average age of German truck drivers is 53, and the problems are not only those which are recognised, such as the bad image of the job, bad treatment of drivers and long, antisocial working hours. Ironically, newly-created digital tools intended to make delivery easier also create their own issues. For example, truckers have to cope with many country-specific regulations and with digital measures at related industries in the transport chain.

“We have our app; then all our customers started to make their own apps, like thyssenkrupp for loading,” he said. Now Müller’s company is busy backing up its app to make it compatible with the others. And, with 7 or 8 different sets of national regulations, the drivers have to adjust each time they cross borders. “Sometime it feels like they are sitting in an airplane hitting buttons just to meet with the regulations,” he said.

Christian Köhl, Kallanish Steel