Once COVID-19 started, most of us were hopeful that it would soon pass. We hoped that all we needed was a week or two of lockdowns to make COVID-19 a thing of the past. But, as things progressed, it soon became evident that COVID-19 wasn't a storm but a long winter. So, there is hardly an industry unaffected by COVID-19 in some shape or form.
Shipping and transports have been among those that suffered the most significant impacts, as lockdowns and stringent measures made things much more complicated. But, amongst all that difficulty, logistics companies are responding to the COVID-19 crisis with surprising success. So, how are they managing to tackle this seemingly impossible issue? Well, that is what we are going to explore.
Understanding the coronavirus crisis from a logistics standpoint
When examining the logistics aspect of COVID-19, it is crucial to consider that this isn't only a health crisis. It also had a massive impact on the economy and shipping in general. Once the outbreak started, countries were quick to blame each other for the cause and the spread of the virus. After it became apparent that the pandemic was upon us, countries soon issued state-wide lockdowns and increased safety measures. The lockdowns slowed down the economy in general, as many businesses couldn't make ends meet. At the same time, the added safety measures slowed down the shipping process and added to the complexity of logistics. What was once a relatively simple shipment became a complicated protocol with measures that changed by the day.
Because different countries had different safety measures, logistics companies had to work extra hard to meet everyone's demands. And since lockdown caused people to do most of their shopping online, small-scale shipping became much more prevalent than it was before. So, how did logistics professionals tackle the present issues with all these new burdens laid on logistics back?
Ways in which logistics companies are responding to the COVID-19 crisis
The response of logistic companies to the COVID-19 crisis boils down to two things. Ingenuity and implementation of new technologies. Both of these were necessary for addressing the new customer demands and safety measures with the required experience. And, luckily, customers, for the most part, didn't feel much of a slowdown during the crisis. In fact, you can arguably say that both shipping and logistics are more efficient than they ever were.
New safety protocols
The first thing that logistics companies had to take into account was worker safety. While large warehouses give enough room for social distancing, it soon became obvious that safety gear was a must. Mask, and even hazmat suits, soon became a necessity in everyday shipping. Apart from that, strict rules regarding illness and COVID-19 symptoms were put in place. While a shipping company could afford to have a worker or two go ill, having your whole company shut down due to COVID-19 wasn't an option.
Another safety measure was the addition of safe areas for shipment dropoff and pickup. Designing safe areas made it easier to follow various safety protocols and ensure that all the requirements were met.
Different modes of transport
As COVID-19 rolled in, tourism took the brunt of the impact. During the first year of COVID-19, it was practically impossible to travel anywhere. This left many shipping companies with vehicles that they couldn't use for the standard purpose. But, there isn't much sense in not using the recourses that you have. So, what was before used for personnel transport, soon became cargo transport. This was especially the case for airplanes and ships, where the cost of upkeep is relatively high. Repurposing passenger aircraft for cargo was the industry norm for a couple of months, which is one of the reasons why shipping experienced such a boom.
To address the COVID-19 crisis, logistic companies had a distinct role to play. Namely, it soon became evident that handling COVID-19 is a worldwide effort. Few countries had the medical supplies or technology necessary to tackle the impact of COVID-19. So, it became necessary to ship masks, respirators, and sanitizers all over the world. Luckily, large-scale logistic companies were able to address this need. It was pretty simple to set up supply chains necessary for medical shipping by working with Verified Movers and connecting with local moving companies.
aspect was food shipping. Namely, while people could live without restaurants or clubs, it became more dangerous to go grocery shopping. Sick people especially weren't supposed to buy their groceries. This was also true for people in isolation, either due to exposure or due to travel. So, what became necessary was to have a service that could deliver groceries for you. This is where small-scale logistics companies came through as food delivery became increasingly commonplace as COVID-19 progressed.
What does the future hold?
As of writing this article, it is hard to say what the future will be like for logistics. While logistics companies are responding to the COVID-19 crisis, we still don't know its long-term effects. We hope that logistics companies learn how to maintain strong supply chains and overcome safety measures without losing efficiency. Driverless vehicles pose an interesting solution to health requirements, as they don't put any person at risk. But, full-fledged autopiloted fleets are still a long way ahead.
What will soon come is large-scale automation in shipping. Both with logistics AI and with warehouse machinery. This increase in automation does bring an increase in reliability and dependency. So, from the standpoint of efficiency, things are looking bright in the shipping world. This is a good sign, as efficient, reliable, and dependable supply chains are the core tool in handling crises such as COVID-19.
So, it is fantastic that logistics companies are responding to the COVID-19 crisis in a proactive way. And, although we cannot make any certain predictions, we can be optimistic.