Tips for freight forwarders and drivers for dealing with stress
A distant dream: stress-free logistics Road hauliers and freight forwarders almost always have to work against the clock. Time constraints in the logistics industry are even worse during seasonal peaks, such as in the lead-up to Christmas. In this blog article, we discuss the factors that can cause stress in the logistics industry and provide tips on dealing with them – or, in the best case scenario, for avoiding them completely.
Where does stress come from?
Typical symptoms of stress include increased pulse rate, muscle strain (particularly across the shoulders and neck), back pain, headaches, difficulty concentrating and increased irritability. When stressed out, we have trouble concentrating and are more susceptible to external stimuli.
A study published by the German Federal Highway Research Institute notes that stress is rarely related to ‘large events’ such as an accident, but is much more likely to arise from smaller, daily factors. For HGV drivers and freight forwarders, that means daily pressure to meet deadlines, plus traffic jams, noise, loading dock waiting times and other people on the road. Dispatchers have to manage a variety of contingencies when planning and organising transport processes: coordinating the vehicle fleet, as well as creating, managing and monitoring transport orders. Many of these stress factors increase during seasonal peaks.
Even though it may not be possible to influence the causes of stress, there are definitely ways to manage stress better. We have collected a few tips for you to help you prepare for stressful periods at work.
Use your breaks wisely
Relaxation exercises that can be done while on a break, in a traffic jam or even while driving can help to reduce stress. Driving takes its toll, so after sitting for long periods it makes sense to use your breaks to go for a walk or do some stretches. Even during unplanned breaks, such as traffic jams or while waiting at the loading dock, you can rotate your shoulders, move your head from side to side and practice deep breathing to counteract stress.
There are simple exercises available to strengthen your back, shoulders and upper arms. For example, drivers can grip the steering wheel with both hands and pull outwards for 5 seconds. Straighten your spine and stick out your chest during this exercise. Use time spent standing to strengthen your neck muscles: place both hands on the back of your head and pull your elbows back behind you; hold the position for several seconds. Stretch and strengthen your leg muscles by placing your heel on the step up to the cab and then bend your upper body over your straightened leg for a few seconds.
Eat balanced meals
Long-haul drivers in particular really need to eat well. Long hours on the highway can lead to limited food choices and a very uniform diet. This can negatively affect your health, making you less resilient and more susceptible to stress.
All this also applies to logistics employees who don’t sit in the driver’s cab. They also need to make sure they eat a healthy and varied diet. Fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain products and low-fat foods provide a constant source of energy and important vitamins. Too many carbohydrates may help you concentrate, but the excess insulin resulting from white flour and sugar can lead to cravings and cause sleepiness. The healthiest drinks are water or unsweetened tea. Sugary drinks such as cola and energy drinks (or too much coffee) might give you an initial rush of energy, but they don’t actually wake you up: you are just delaying the exhaustion, and may even crash harder once the initial effects wear off.
Sleep – the best cure for tiredness
One major method for preventing tiredness and stress is adequate sleep, at least 6 hours of it for a healthy adult. According to a study by the Berufsgenossenschaft Verkehr (German Road Traffic Trade Association), 20-30 percent of all traffic accidents are caused by fatigue. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety proved that sleeping even two hours less than usual can double your risk of having an accident. Short stops for a power nap (20 minutes) can help combat fatigue.
Good sleep hygiene can help if you have trouble falling asleep. A set routine reminds your body that it is time to go to bed.
Using technology to prevent stress
It is essential that HGV drivers be able to concentrate. Tired, stressed drivers can have concentration problems that lead them to misjudge what is happening on the road. And of course, supply chain managers also need to keep cool and plan ahead to make sure routes are optimised. But never fear, there are digital helpers that can reduce stress while planning transport routes.
Route and loading dock management
But the routes & costs application, part of TIMOCOM’s Smart Logistics System, offers massive advantages when it comes to route planning. Optimal route calculation allows for longer breaks and reduces time constraints for drivers, one of the main causes of stress. Thanks to our cooperation with Cargoclix, GPS data can be used to share expected loading dock arrival times with all parties. This makes it easier to prepare for the arrival of the truck and reduces unnecessary wait times, reducing loading dock management stress.
TIMOCOM offers the option of allowing selected partners to view vehicle data in the tracking application. This reduces stress for the driver, who is no longer required to communicate frequently with the customer. Questions about where the goods are, exactly, are no longer necessary. In turn, dispatchers are subject to less stress because they know where the vehicle carrying the goods is and can use that knowledge to make optimal route plans for the vehicle fleet. Data on estimated time of arrival can be forwarded to the transport customer so that they know when their goods will arrive at their destination.
Any job can be stressful. But relaxation exercises and competent organisational skills make for excellent preventative measures. We can’t predict the future, but careful planning can do a lot to help things run smoothly. Digital solutions such as TIMOCOM’s Smart Logistics System help road hauliers, freight forwarders and transport customers to coordinate more efficiently with one another.
If you are interested in simplifying your route planning processes, why not investigate the routes & costs application?
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