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Any extra room left aboard that moving van for our 'moving refugees?'

There's been lots of news these days about labor shortages in various industries. One of them, reports Yukan Fuji (Feb. 24) is household transport firms, and their recent difficulties in meeting market demand has generated a new term, hikkoshi nanmin ("moving refugees"), to describe people prevented from moving to their new location at the desired time.
The main reason is that March -- the month preceding the end of the fiscal year -- is the time when salaried workers, their families and university students generally move to new assignments or to attend new schools.
A representative for "A-Team Moving Samurai," a Nagoya-based web site that provides estimates to potential moving customers, advises, "It's expected that many moving companies will have to turn away business, creating 'refugees' again this year again. To avoid this from happening, customers are advised to request an estimate for moving services at an early stage, and act expeditiously to reserve a truck."
When A-Team conducted a survey at the end of last year, 60% of the 25 operators questioned responded that they would be feeling the pinch in the coming spring. The labor shortages affects both truck drivers and other staff.
Another factor causing the shortfall in services this spring is that some subcontractors that had tied up with Yamato Transport, the nation's largest trucking firm, were forced to suspend operations as a penalty for having overcharged customers.
A spokesperson for Osaka-based Art Corporation told Yukan Fuji it had succeeded in securing sufficient personnel, despite projections for March and April exceeding that of 2018. This was achieved by urging customer flexibility to enable the company to adjust its available workers accordingly. 
Another innovation some trucking firms are adopting to cope with the worker shortage is the sharing of free space on trucks. From January, several companies agreed to a new system called Hi! MOVE, that they hope will enable them to pass along savings.
The most likely clients for the Hi! MOVE system are those with relatively few possessions and furnishings, such as those in single-person households. If an entire truck is utilized to move their belongings, traveling to the destination with only part of the truck's capacity being utilized is inefficient. So when practical, the possessions of up to three different customers may be loaded onto the same truck. The system is said to be a boon to transport firms with a smaller number of workers. 
"Rather than securing use of an entire truck, we are able to offer customers estimates with as much as 40% off the going rate," says Takahiro Araki, president of Tokyo-based Glide, which launched the Hi! MOVE service last January.
Another innovation has been to streamline estimates by transmitting the desired moving date, address and room layout of one's residence into a smartphone, along with digital photographs of the items to be moved. Using these, operators are able to quickly generate estimates without having to call at the customer's residence beforehand.
Nevertheless, warns Yukan Fuji, the "moving refugee" problem is likely to continue unless companies change their old habits and start spacing out personnel changes to different times of the year, instead of bunching them all together in springtime.


© Japan Today
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