Brexit has been thwarting the freight industry for six months now, with forwarders on both sides of the UK/EU border still adjusting to the new Brexit arrangements. A joint poll from vector.ai and FORWARDER has revealed that nearly half (48%) have had to hire more staff to handle the changes in UK-EU customs trading since 1st January.
With further problematic rule changes and restrictions pending in just a few months’ time, there are fears that forwarders haven’t even felt the full ‘Brexit effect’. Additional customs requirements will come into force later in the year, requiring any business importing animal products, live animals or plants to wade through even more documentation. And, according to the poll, nearly a third don’t think they will have enough staff to handle these extra checks.
James Coombes, CEO at vector.ai comments: “For stressed and overburdened workers throughout the supply chain, this could be the final straw. There is considerable pressure being imposed upon workers due to the extra requirements for importing and exporting, which is causing long hours, stress and anxiety. Worryingly, we have heard of business owners who are on the verge of a breakdown due to the sheer volume of paperwork required.”
The poll also reveals that 57% of freight forwarders are worried they or their staff are close to burnout as a direct result of the new customs requirements and increase in paperwork. What’s more, 80% don’t think the government is doing enough to fill the gap in the number of workers required to handle the change in customs process and additional paperwork.
James continues: “To say our industry is worried is an understatement. If left unchecked, this post-Brexit process pain will severely impact forwarders’ long-term operations and damage workers’ mental health. Without some sort of further, extensive trade agreement, the problem will not go away. One would think we could work towards the introduction of a global standard for all documents. However, in a highly fragmented market, no single party holds the power or permission to dictate a new, singular digital standard, so this idea seems unlikely.
“We therefore must look for ways to help freight forwarders manage the new Brexit arrangements. Reassuringly, our survey shows we are stepping in the right direction after 75% of freight forwarders agreed that technology could remove some of the burden on their staff. The latest AI technology, for example, has the power to automatically analyse incoming documents and email, identify relevant information and instantly assign actions. What’s more, it can automate the entry of data required to fill in customs and freight documents – saving hours of time and stress.”
For more information on how AI can help freight forwarders, visit https://vector.ai/