RHA Forum for the Future - Charting a Course for the Industry
The stage was set, the anticipation palpable, and on Thursday, September 21, 2023, the inaugural RHA Forum for the Future unfolded in Birmingham. A gathering of more than 20 speakers from the haulage industry, government, and associated sectors converged to impart insights, wisdom, and inspiration, making it a pivotal event that any forward-thinking business in the road transport industry couldn't afford to miss.
The event kicked off with a warm welcome from Ian Jones, Director of Backhouse Jones, setting the stage for what would be a day of rich discourse and learning.
Richard Smith, Managing Director of RHA, then took the stage, addressing the crowd with a compelling narrative on the future prospects and challenges that the road haulage industry faces. He underscored the pivotal role of the logistics sector in the nation's economy and emphasised the need to adapt to changing dynamics, particularly in the face of evolving regulations and environmental considerations.
The first session of the day delved into the multifaceted landscape that confronts hauliers. From the economy and energy prices to decarbonisation and international trade, the session navigated through the myriad uncertainties. Richard Turfitt, Senior Traffic Commissioner, and Loveday Ryder, Chief Executive of the DVSA, provided key insights into the changing dynamics of regulation and operator-DVSA relationships.
Distinguished speakers such as Andy Eastlake, Chief Executive of Zemo Partnership, and Adrian Brabazon, Head of UK Fleet Solutions at bp, discussed the merits of various vehicle technologies, including battery electric and hydrogen. Carlos Rodrigues, Managing Director of Renault Trucks, provided an illuminating keynote on electric HGVs as a service, shedding light on the industry's technological evolution. In a chat moderated by Moreton Cullimore, Chair of RHA, this segment explored the challenges and opportunities posed by the pressing need to decarbonise road transport.
Nick Shelley, Senior Business Development Manager at Element 2, then took the stage. In his address, he delved into the potential of hydrogen as a key option for the road haulage industry's sustainable future. Shelley highlighted the benefits of Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), also known as renewable diesel, which offers a remarkable up to 90% reduction in emissions compared to conventional diesel.
His insightful presentation provided the audience with a deeper understanding of the significance of alternative fuels like hydrogen in reducing the industry's environmental footprint.
The next session, ‘Moving Towards Net Zero in the Real World’ presented real-world case studies, offering a practical lens through which to view the transition to zero-emission technologies.
Jacqueline O'Donovan OBE, Managing Director of O'Donovan Waste Disposal, shared insights into the challenges faced by urban operators in achieving net zero emissions. Ashley McCulla, Managing Director of McCulla Ireland, discussed the journey toward transport decarbonization. Graham Lackey, Managing Director of Brit European Transport Limited, shed light on the construction of future-fit operating centres.
Recognising the importance of a healthy and happy workforce, the next portion of the event, ‘Putting People at the Heart of Your Business’ delved into strategies for enhancing the mental and physical well-being of the people within road transport organisations. Jon Manning, Founder & CEO of Arthur Ellis, Kate Walker, Managing Director of the Diabetes Safety Organization, and Adam Kelly, Account Director of PAM Wellbeing, provided valuable advice and support. Laura Taylor, HR Director at RHA, led the discussion, culminating in the launch of the RHA Members Assistance Programme.
The closing session explored the need for collaboration across various sectors to enhance road haulage efficiency. A panel of industry experts, including Steve Parker, Director General at the British International Freight Association, Clare Bottle FCILT, Chief Executive of the UK Warehousing Association, Tom Southall, Executive Director of the Cold Chain Federation, Mark Gilston of Mandata, and Andy Butterfield of National Highways, shared their insights into the evolving logistics ecosystem.
Concluding the event on an economic note, Martin McTague, National Chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, provided an outlook on the economic landscape and its implications for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within the industry.
The first Forum for the Future event was a resounding success, serving as a platform for thought leadership, collaboration, and the exchange of invaluable knowledge.
With a diverse range of speakers and a focus on the future of the road haulage industry, it delivered on its promise to inform, inspire, and challenge all those in attendance. The RHA look forward to the future editions of this landmark event, where the road ahead for the haulage industry will continue to be illuminated.