The logistical challenges from Brexit, eCommerce & Last Mile Deliveries

Notes from presentation at the IEA Western Council meeting by Jarlath Sweeney, Fleet Transport magazine


Since the word Brexit was first mooted, concern was gathering pace with Irish based manufacturers and exporters. How would they continue to get their freshly produced goods to markets overseas in current timescales and how? Remain to go and through GB in order to get to Europe and beyond? Or look towards alternative routes?

Just in Time importation of raw materials is still a big issue as a seamless supply chain remains vital.

Methods of transportation: Road, Sea, Air & Train, all carried out by various stakeholders such as Freight Forwarders, Road hauliers, Ferries, Airlines & Rail freight service providers.

Issues pertaining: Additional paperwork, digital downloads, iCloud storage, red-tape, Custom/Border control delays, traffic congestion at Ports and warehousing shortages. Start-ups and SMEs seem vulnerable in relation to all of the above due to lack of knowledge/experience and not having enough resources to hand.

What’s required? Additional resources at Government level required, mainly in an advisory capacity.

New routes to Europe bypassing GB necessary –  some established through Spain via Rosslare already, more options will be sought. Additional warehousing availability is coming on stream. And on the logistics side, Truck stop/driver rest areas need improvement all along the traditional and new routes across Europe taking in the new Port accesses.

Other developments: Move towards higher/taller warehousing units, using less land mass but current trend sees rent rates increasing. Interestingly, some Irish hauliers have or are expanding to GB with investment in acquiring depots/warehousing units, in an attempt to ‘Beat Brexit’, beat the queues and get to markets faster. Another related development is that there will be an increased number of unaccompanied loaded trailers crossing the Irish Sea to British ports. A new Irish Start-up is working on the creation of on-line pan-European haulage hub/portal to reduce empty running.



Increased demand: Covid-19 Lockdown led to phenomenal increase in on-line shopping with home delivery firms desperately trying to meet delivery targets. Big pressure on delivery drivers, many of which are sub-contractors, to meet customer demand.

As an indication to the rapid growth recorded DPD Ireland undertook 730,000 parcel deliveries per week – double normal figures during Lockdown period. This additional business came from a home based buying spree with household items, domestic appliances, clothing, sports equipment and groceries etc., topping the shopping lists.

Overall eCommece market: Estimated at €650 billion across Europe for 2020.

Van Sales: Although the new registrations market is down over last year, the overall picture is improving as the turnaround of van replacements are shortening due to the higher mileage reached, relating to their leasing/purchasing contract.

Truck Sales: Like the van market, also decreased but their first lifecycle differs based on their application/operation. New trailer turnaround is slower due to the longer original ownership.

Down the road the European Union is currently looking at increasing the health and safety operations surrounding eCommerce, from dispatch to distribution to delivery. Among the restrictions/regulations under consideration include: Reducing Drivers’ Hours/Introduce Speed limiters/Monitor Load capabilities/Protect Sub-contractors/Strengthen Duty of Care obligations/Curtail customer expectations.


Last Mile Deliveries

Ongoing link between eCommerce & Last Mile Deliveries

Obstacles: City emission restrictions spreading across Europe including increased Tolls/Congestion charges plus penalties/fines for operators/transport companies that do not meet the engine emission requirements. Permits may be required re: time and type of vehicles to be used and system of propulsion.

Hi-tech Developments include: Electric Cargo Bikes, Electric scooters and concept delivery vans from current commercial vehicle manufacturers (OEMs) and Start-ups, Remote/Autonomous delivery pods, drones, vending boxes (with automatic/scanning payment systems). Special lanes will be required in the city landscape to allow free movement of these special vehicles. Other ongoing issues include that there not enough electric charging points, more loading/unloading bays needed, plus larger parking bays for electric trucks delivering at night in urban areas will have to be implemented.

Home Deliveries: Supermarket chains expanding services, more big names becoming involved plus delivery specialists getting in on the act, based on their experience from the Fast Food/Restaurant delivery service success during Covid-19.

Special situation in London: Transport for London requirement for commercial vehicles working in the city currently in being cover the following, such as; Cyclops – Extra visibility on trucks needed before entering city, i.e. cameras, side sensor alarms to protect vulnerable road/street users.

Finally, the International Van of the Year jury (IVOTY) White Paper on the Future of the Light Commercial Vehicle in the Urban Environment was published last year and can be downloaded from