The Social-Distancing Dilemma: Logistics
January 28, 2021
Covid19 caused the whole world to change the way humans interact. To prevent infection, one needs to keep one’s distance. And that, simple at it may seem, changed everything – especially when it came to logistics.
Nearly every importer would agree that they have experienced major challenges or obstacles in one or more aspects of their supply chain since the start of the pandemic.
While production in China bounced back relatively quickly, shipping and freight companies found it nearly impossible to keep up with demand, among other things. Containers were all on the wrong side of the ocean and drivers were hard to come by. Even experienced importers who had planned ahead were struggling.
When the pandemic first started in the end of January, early February 2020 in China, many importers and suppliers had anticipated disruptions due to Chinese New Year. But the delays brought on by COVID-19 caused much larger disruptions.
Fast forward a year later, here we are approaching the Lunar New Year again, and getting your goods shipped is harder than ever.
Even with advanced planning, goods that have been produced, inspected, and ready to ship are being held up in China due to shortages in truck drivers that can move the goods from manufacturers to the ports. New containers are being manufactured in record numbers but they still cannot keep up with demand. Shipping vessels and containers have been booked to capacity far in advance, leading to extreme increases in freight costs and volatility.
Once goods finally arrive in the US, importers have faced customs and other delays due to the pandemic in the US. Major carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx—along with small retailers using these carriers—have been functioning on pared back personnel to meet safety regulations. Getting goods to the shelves, and to the end consumer, has been very hard.
At CPG, we have always been proud of our 99% on-time delivery record. In order to do this, our China team members have become experts in keeping their fingers on the pulse of key logistics players, forecasting delays, and preparing alternatives. This year, they have struggled mightily but managed to keep up by adding bigger delivery cushions on new orders to try and anticipate the unexpected, and to prevent severe disruptions to our clients.
What adjustments have you made to your logistics programs to accommodate COVID19 delays? Share your solutions with us in the comments below.
By Jocelyn Trigueros
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