If someone says the word stacks to you, what do you think of?
Pancakes, perhaps? Money, maybe? Do you mishear it as Stax and end up with Booker T & the MGs playing in your head?
Or do you think of the M20 being used as a lorry park?
Information around the scale of disruption caused by Operation Stack is not as easily come by as you might think. There are three agencies directly involved in it – the Kent Police, the Highways England and the Port of Dover. The criteria for its enactment do not form an exhaustive list, but include more generic catch-all terms like congestion, severe weather, and other forms of disruption.
The latter is hard to avoid at the moment: regular and repeated attempts by Calais-based migrants to access the Channel Tunnel, or vehicles passing through it en route to the UK.
The costs of Operation Stack and its attendant ripple effect are also hard to pin down definitively. The BBC quotes a figure of £700,000 as the cost to police in the first three weeks of July. The Freight Transport Association estimates that to be the cost per day to haulage companies caught up in it. Operation Stack has been in force for 21 of the last 39 days. Don’t feel shy about using a calculator to work out how much that adds up to.
You can also add into the mix the cost of goods-in-transit being spoiled by delays on this side of the Channel, or contaminated due to incursions into vehicles on the French side.
Then there are the unexpected quiet periods some carriers are experiencing – parcels held up in France that ought to be being delivered in the UK, followed by mini-peaks when traffic starts moving and the carriers in question are hit by a sudden, sharp influx.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue of migration or whether you think the M20 should be used to stack lorries, it would be hard not to agree that something needs to be done.
There are answers, of course. There always are. Some are less palatable than others, and in this instance none are particularly obvious or welcome.
If you’ve been affected by Operation Stack, we’d love to hear from you. This is a story we are keeping close eye on and we’re already talking to some of the agencies involved in its deployment.
Elsewhere in eDelivery, we look at the future of click-and-collect, courtesy of Planet Retail, who have also provided us with an infographic looking at 10 trends for the future of retail.
On the subject of click-and-collect, we have a case study on high street toy retailer The Entertainer, which now offers a 30-minute pick-up service. And if timeliness is of interest to you, we have more reader comments in reaction to our story about Yodel telling retailer to agree next-day delivery volumes for Black Friday.
We also have some research from Barloworld SCS that claims eight of 10 supply chain execs are having performance issues.
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