Four key steps for Logistics and Supply Chain Management in the times of COVID-19

The fast-paced spread and the highly contagious nature of the coronavirus (COVID-19), has brought the world to a grinding halt. What began with the shutting down of China – the global hub for manufacturing, has spread to the near-total lockdown of major European countries, most of whom have also sealed its borders and ports. The international supply chain today has also come to a standstill, with the exception of pharmaceuticals and essential F&B chains functioning at reduced capacity. Even as businesses and economies combat the slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the international logistics and supply chain is steadily evolving to rise up to the challenge.

In the wake of the rising COVID-19 cases in India, the central government has ordered a total lockdown across the country for 21 days, while daily essentials and medicines continue to remain accessible. And just as other sectors are re-evaluating the traditional modes of doing business, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Logistics and Supply chain companies to explore and adopt a new model that is more agile, with a focus on optimisation and non-linear operations that can absorb disruptions of this magnitude.

Listed here are a few guidelines that can help build a robust and effective supply chain in the face of the crisis:

1. Educate ground staff: From picking up packages from a warehouse to delivering it to the end consumer, the ground staff plays a vital role in completing the supply chain. Effective handling of packages is crucial to ensure they do not contract any virulent infection through the consignments. Educating the staff to adhere to the requisite precautionary protocol and marinating the discipline, is crucial when they are out on the field.

2. Optimise processes: From effective management of warehouse space, human resources and fleet, to streamlining processes through freight integration, effective optimisation across supply chain is vital to ensure a lean operation. Creating internal processes that allow efficient monitoring and management of these processes can go a long way in creating value and sustainable operations.

3. Digitising the supply chain (DSN): Setting a digital supply chain network is no longer just a matter of upgrading technology but the real need of the hour for logistics and supply chain service providers. By leveraging IoT and AI for smart warehouse automation, tracing and tracking and generating end-to-end visibility for a connected and optimised supply chain is vital now so as to tide over not just the current crisis but also for building up an agile network that is well prepared to take on similar disasters in the future.

4. Evolve as value creators and partners: Understanding the impact of the pandemic on various sectors, from automobile and electronics to pharmaceuticals, FMCG and retail, it has become inevitable that the global economy would take a considerable time to bounce back, after the pandemic. As the lifeline of global trade, it is of significant importance that the logistics and supply chain network service providers step up to evolve as real value creators and partners in the process of rebuilding the financial world. The world businesses need a stronger backbone to rely on, once international borders open again.



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