A TALE OF TWO STORIES
It is undisputed that the US has the worst outbreak of the COVID-19 virus among the most wealthy and developed counties in the world. However, the impact of the virus can vary greatly by where you live, where you work, the nature of what you do, your age, and your health. From a supply chain perspective, we are seeing major industrial companies such as automobile manufacturing shutting down while those companies that can manufacture ventilators, masks, and other PPE equipment operate around the clock. Amazon and Walmart are looking to literally hire thousands, while other workers are feeling the pain of business shutdowns and layoffs.
Demand for trucks represents another area where we see opposing impacts of the virus on both the availability of trucks and rates. Those carriers who haul essential goods i.e. household goods such as toilet paper; basic foods such as meat, eggs, and milk; and medical supplies and equipment are in high demand and that is reflected in the rates they can charge. The increased demand from these market segments has resulted in a siphoning of trucks that typically service other commodities. The weak to non-existence of demand from retailers, restaurants, and some manufacturers have resulted in excess supply resulting in displaced capacity. While this disruption is not expected to last long it is definitely having an impact on those shippers in ‘hot spots’ trying to move ‘hot commodities’.
Some businesses have developed their own protocols for receiving shipments or allowing delivery personnel into their facility. These protocols may include requiring delivery personnel to fill out a health questionnaire and/or submit to temperature checks before being permitted to enter the facility.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have stated that the likelihood of the COVID-19 virus contaminating cardboard or other shipping containers is low. There is concern, however, that the drivers themselves need to be contained.
UPS has modified its process related to delivery signatures. When a signature is requested by the shipper, UPS drivers will validate and record the name of the recipient of the package in lieu of obtaining a signature.
The FMSCA has eased hours of service regulations for drivers who are providing direct assistance in support of emergency relief efforts related to the COVID-19 outbreaks.
With many businesses and production lines shutdowns, shippers need to know where their customers and suppliers are located (in ‘hot spots’) and if they will be open before they tender freight. This will eliminate costly redelivery charges. At this point in time we are not seeing the COVID-19 crisis exacerbating a truck driver shortage. However, this may change as companies come back online.
To allow you to keep up with the most up-to-date information with regard to different aspects of COVID-19 we recommend that you visit https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html . This is a site maintained by Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center.
Data2Logistics is here to support companies in meeting the challenges of an ever evolving logistics environment. To learn more about how we can support your business, contact Harold B. Friedman at [email protected] or 609.577.3756.