In an age of disruption, very few (if any) events have had as big of an impact on how we live and work as the current COVID-19 pandemic. For some organisations, the biggest change has been the transition from mostly office-based activities to working from home. For others, airspace closures, social distancing, travel bans and other extreme measures to stop the virus from spreading have presented a major threat to operations.
As a vital industry, the transportation and logistics industry is essential to keep the economy moving. However, under the current circumstances, organisations have to adapt to survive. We spoke to industry leaders on how the current circumstances have challenged their business and how they continue to deliver a positive impact amidst the chaos.
Alongside many public sectors, the transportation and logistics industry has been appointed as a vital sector in The Netherlands. While healthcare staff receive many well-deserved statements of support from the nation, the same level of appreciation is not always shown to the logistics workers that keep the economy moving—even as daily life comes to a standstill. News outlets have reported on the jarring circumstances under which truck drivers, for example, have to perform their duties. Joep Aerts, Business Unit Director at Den Hartogh Logistics: “Drivers in the chemical industry are crucial for the industry not coming to a standstill. However, we have been reported incidents where drivers were refused to use basic facilities for sanitation and hand washing, or had to wait in a waiting room with over 20 drivers packed in a small room. For us, this is unacceptable.”
Joep gives a number of examples how individuals and companies can show their appreciation to drivers and create the best possible working environment. “Make sure drivers can do their work in a healthy way. Provide possibilities for personal hygiene and sanitation, make sure they can obey the rules of social distancing, and make sure that cleaning schedules of busy places are as intense as possible.” He also implores actors in the supply chain not to ask drivers for the impossible in the current situation. “Above all, we ask everyone to treat our drivers with respect.”
Despite being “invisible” to the general public, these drivers—along with many other parties in the supply chain—are making a daily contribution to keep the economy going and meanwhile to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic. In Den Hartogh’s case, a nice example of a direct contribution occurred when Shell announced to donate 2,500,000 liter of Isopropyl Alcohol for the manufacturing of hand sanitizers. Den Hartogh offered to transport 25 shipments to the hand gel production sites free of charge. Bulk liquid chemical logistics is one of Den Hartogh’s specialties, and in the current circumstances, they are able to use that strength to deliver a positive impact to society. Joep: “In these extraordinary circumstances we also see the binding side of a crisis. People and companies working together on nice initiatives at a speed which is unthinkable in normal circumstances.”
Similarly, organisations around the globe have found themselves forced to adapt to the new reality the COVID-19 pandemic has created. Coyote Logistics, a UPS company, is a global third-party logistics provider that matches more than 10,000 shipments around the world every day. With over 3,300 employees operating in 20 offices worldwide, the health and safety of their employees, customers and carriers has been a top priority. To that end, they have expanded remote worker capabilities to ensure employee safety and maintain critical operations and 24/7 customer support. Jaap Bruining, Head of Europe: “To ensure our employees and customers experienced a seamless transition, the shift to a fully remote model in Europe was executed in less than 24 hours. I have been extremely proud and impressed with how quickly our team has managed to adjust and remain productive, while keeping the collaboration and spirit alive.”
While the driving force behind this “social innovation” on the work floor is unfortunate, the introduction of new forms of working and collaboration can have a lasting positive impact on the supply chain. It also shows the commitment of logistics companies to keep disruption to supply chains to a minimum. Jaap: “To further support our network carriers during this time, who are going above and beyond to deliver test kits, provide critical medical equipment and restock shelves, we are offering more lenient credit terms. Our hope is this will provide financial relief to the people keeping lifesaving goods moving.”
The coronacrisis has presented a huge challenge, one that can only be overcome by taking a positive and innovative approach towards working together. While social distancing has become the norm, social responsibility and socially innovative business models have followed suit. At Venturn, we see this ability to adapt as the key for many businesses to survive this crisis and innovate the supply chain permanently. The innovative ways of working together that the COVID-19 crisis has fostered will have a long-lasting impact on how people work in the years to come. Want to learn more about how you can make your organisation more resilient in the current circumstances? Read our plan of action here.