Even though the world is still amid a global pandemic, supply chains are still affected and will continue to be so. Supply chains must keep moving and adapt to the pandemic and change to accommodate the ‘New Norm’ that we are about to move into, regardless of the possibility of Phase 2 of COVID-19.
Freight shipping businesses need to operate nimbly and with due care, commitment to their customers is always the number one priority, but now commitments to the health of their employees are even more prevalent than during normal times, and that commitment is just as important at the destination end as it is when packing and shipping from the origin.
Here are 6 tips to help keep your freight shipping business moving forward through a global pandemic and still be profitable in 2021, while putting people’s health as an equal priority to your services.
1. Health and Safety Across the Board
Time to take a good look at three dynamics, your employees, customers and vendors in equal terms across all operations within the company. The health and logistics authority has issues health guideline and should be adhered to. The content on this link is worth the consideration: COVID-19 guidelines and best practices.
These regulations also include truckers, sailors, freight handlers and delivery drivers who lest we forget are all on the frontline of this pandemic. We have had sailors who have been trapped at sea unable to dock and truckers who have not been able to find a proper stop on long journeys, only now are we starting to open up and get back to something called ‘normal’ but we could easily have a set-back on the horizon.
With freight company’s health and safety is not quite the same as your average office building, but here I list some of the best practices to maintain during and after this period:
- Ensure PPE is provided for each individual through the process, and also make sure it is implemented, introduce checks
- Social distancing needs to be adhered to in the warehouses where you are picking up from and where goods are being packaged
- Speak to your insurance company to ensure employees are covered for COVID-19 and what the stipulation are and adhere to them.
- Implement sanitation on all your vehicles
- Take a look at your sick leave pay to ensure that employees are covered and don’t need to come to work unnecessarily and put others at risk
2. Prepare for the Long Haul (no pun intended).
We all want the world to go back to what we were used to as quickly as possible and everyone to be healthy, but there is no understanding of what disruptions will be taking place in 2021. The medical world tells us a vaccine to be extremely effective can take 12-18 months and then of course it has to be mass-produced and distributed.
Although economies are starting to open it is likely we will not be as we were for some time as infections are suddenly coming back in certain areas such as Beijing recently and a further outbreak in South Korea after it had been very well controlled until the lockdown was eased.
Therefore, shipping businesses will be disrupted. The Chinese supply chain is of particular interest and concern, with their numerous factories and ports operating at a reduced capacity from 2019, means disrupted import from China, and disruption to sea freight is likely to continue.
This is a good time to take a look at alternative connections and resilient networks to help you navigate this difficult period as people moving overseas is now drastically reduced.
3. Don’t Depend on the US Government for Help on That Side of the World
If we were in a perfect world government’s would help inject funds into business sectors that are struggling through uncertainty, unfortunately, on the US side, the government’s stimulus packages don’t always trickle down to where they should as the mechanisms don’t always function smoothly, with Washington sometimes being subject to partisan gridlock making relief bills unreliable.
Therefore, freight companies based in the US must realise that government intervention may take some time and you should not be reliant on it. Some business will need stimulus to survive, but this is an opportune time to consider all options that are available to you including:
- Cutting expenses
- Short-term private loans
- Temporary Payment plans with creditors
4. Communicate Early with Your Supply Chains.
When a crisis hits any country or market the supply chain needs to focus on being coordinated, let alone in a global pandemic!
Be prepared for supply chain changes, they can happen quickly from local area governance to official law, agencies need to respond quickly to changing dynamics on the ground.
Being prepared for backed-up ports, shut-down warehouses and increased rates have and will continue to be a reality for the industry, nicknamed ‘Pandemic Logistics’ so keeping open communication is key to minimising the disruption.
Thankfully technology plays a major role in easier communication protocol today than in the past. Logistics software is now abundant, with bills of loading being automatic and on-line signing off now becoming ‘a norm’ puts drivers at less risk of face-2-face contact with packaging and warehouse staff for example. Cargo is tracked using GPRS to give real-time tracking and action points have been created to ensure compliance and efficiency. So make sure you have the right team and solid advice on the latest technology to ensure minimum fuss and maximum protection for your staff.
5. Appropriate Allocation of Resources to Maintain Compliance.
Compliance during a Pandemic is critical, so always pay attention to relevant agencies during this time to ensure your vessels and vehicles are maintaining the correct insurances, for freight brokers you may want to look at your freight broker bonds and surety bonds.
When the worst of COVID-19 has come and gone it is unlikely that health and safety regulations will go back to what we were accustomed to in 2019 and before.
Be prepared for significant changes to be in readiness for another pandemic, so you should consider finances that are devoted to compliance as the ‘New Norm’ will be regulated differently after we emerge from it affecting international shipping in general, sea freight, air freight and vehicle shipping, you must also keep on top of customs brokerage changes.
6. Adjust your Business to Demand, Stay Alert.
Business models are inevitably changed by recessions. When demand hit a new low in certain sectors then businesses come under pressure to evolve, be innovative and meet new demand.
So businesses that are used to shipping non-essential freight look to find in-demand freight to ship. A prime example earlier this year was PPE and medical equipment was needed around the world. So shipping companies that have a China-Centric supply chain are increasing their global networks.
Cash flow is a major player in being in a position to be agile in your logistic business. With strong cash flow, you are in a position to allocate funds to alternative situations and solutions, so this is a good time to consider new and alternative inventory strategies.
At the end of the day, these are unpredictable times, so strong leadership is required to understand the global market and how it will differ to the one that has been practised for many years.
Your regular business from people moving from Australia or moving to New Zealand will take a huge hit so too will import from China. Evaluation is your best friend, use the available resources, put your staff safety at the forefront of your mind, and ensure to sign-up to as many health and safety forums and blogs as you can and listen to your local governing body. If you can align yourselves with them that will go a long way to giving people the confidence to use your services, and come out stronger next year.