Changes for Logistics & Warehouses due to Coronavirus
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has undoubtedly had an impact on all sectors globally. The logistics industry in particular has proved critical at this time, but has also been affected by the circumstances created by COVID-19, undergoing significant changes and facing several challenges.
There has been an enormous need for effective and immediate logistics services due to increased e-commerce activities resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. Since January, existing customers have been purchasing online more frequently, while new customers – mostly people coming from older age groups or lower-tier cities have made an online purchase for the first time. Evidence of the growth e-commerce is facing is the fact that the market capitalisation for Amazon, the world’s large e-commerce player, has increased by more than 25% since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. Moreover, the Chinese e-commerce sector, which accounted for less than 20% of sales on the market, has also significantly risen.
In addition, supermarkets and grocery retailers specifically have been largely expanding their e-commerce capabilities using home delivery services to cope with the increased customer demand for food and grocery. In fact, between the 31st of January and the 20th of March 2020, the food and grocery market grew by more than 4%. However, in order to fulfil this customer demand, putting further logistics in place has been a necessity. “Retailers have increased their delivery service capacity in line with the events of recent months’’, as stated by Ossie Bayram, commercial director at PriceSpy. Amazon, for example, has attempted to achieve that by hiring 100,000 new employees.
As Christmas approaches, typically the highest seasonal increase of deliveries in the Western countries, the next three months are expected to be challenging. Shoppers are advised to order Christmas gifts earlier this year so that delivery backlogs are avoided. “The reality is that if people don’t do their internet shopping early, their Christmas presents might well not arrive in time’’, states Lee Gamble, managing director at Berry Recruitment. In addition, according to IMRG, UK’s industry association for online retail, online sales could face a 30% increase during Christmas period. This percentage could even rise to 50% should physical stores were to close down again.
Increased risk due to increased activity
This rapid increase of e-commerce has affected the landscape of logistics and warehousing in several ways. As the number of deliveries rises, so does the volume of loading bay operations. With logistics firms facing even higher than usual time pressures to ensure on time deliveries of goods and services, the risk of accidents at loading bays (such as accidental drive-aways) also increases. Bay inactivity and the loss of assets, staff, time and loading bay capacity resulting from an accident has an even greater impact for a business during this period than pre-covid times.
Best way to ensure continued safe operation of the loading bay during this period of increased activity, is to have a simple, reliable solution that ensures safety of the warehouse staff and drivers, with minimal operational disruption.
One such available safety solution is Castell’s Salvo. The system’s uniqueness lies in the fact that it interlocks the vehicle’s air brakes with the bay door. Loading/unloading of goods can take place fast and safely, and accidental drive-aways are reduced as it is impossible to drive the now immobilised vehicle. Moreover, Salvo is very easy to use as the driver needs to follow a few simple steps to operate the bay, making the solution easy for all to understand.
As we come into the colder seasons, truck drivers will be wanting to stay in waiting rooms, but with social distancing common place in warehouses due to Coronavirus restrictions, maintaining social distancing might not always be possible in a safe way and some drivers will be staying in their vehicles. This decreases the risk of truck drivers contracting or spreading coronavirus, but in some situations might not be best practice and could increase risk of drive-aways. Some companies are even reducing the number of staff on site through advanced technologies such as remote forklift truck driving, although as this article explains, that can also come with additional risks to be considered.
Drivers in the vehicle doesn’t pose a risk with Salvo because the air brakes are locked out, and dispatch managers can ensure that accidental drive-aways are reduced and loading/unloading processes take place safely and with minimum disruptions.
As you can see the increased risks arising from covid-19 can easily be mitigated for with the appropriate safety solutions in place, meaning that loading docks can safely have increased through-traffic.
Get in touch with our logistics safety specialist at [email protected] to identify the optimal solution for you.