It can be easy for the population at large to take the logistics function for granted and fail to consider both the importance and the complexity of an operation that puts food on their table, and products in their home. However, at times of crisis, such as the global health emergency the world is facing now, the spotlight is firmly focused on the work of logistics professionals across the entire supply chain. Retail, food, online, and pharmaceutical industries are just a number of sectors that are under increasing pressure to deliver a service that is not only timely, but one that also ensures orders are fulfilled. This is no mean feat amid panic buying, supplier issues, border restrictions, and reduced workforces to name a few of the challenges faced by the industry currently.
Commenting on this recently, Dave Ashford, Transport Director at KBC Logistics, said: “The continued success of this industry is critical not just to the country’s economic performance but also to the hundreds of thousands of people across the country who rely on the sector for their livelihoods.”
To remain efficient and keep up with the unprecedented levels of demand the industry is experiencing right now will require a high degree of planning, speed of process and resilience. FTA Policy Director, Elizabeth de Jong has reassured that: “Logistics can cope with the challenges of the pandemic,” however, she continued to say that this is “providing everyone maintains a balanced and sensible response to the situation. Our members are well prepared to keep goods and materials flowing to all areas of the UK’s economy, providing a pragmatic approach is maintained.”
Travel restrictions and freight
The Government has stated that, "those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass," are deemed critical roles. Logistics workers will also, therefore, receive priority educational provisions in schools to care for their children.
This reiterates the key roles that logistics must play to keep the country running during these trying and uncertain times. As it stands, this is a crucial service and is classified as an essential activity:
“International and domestic freight transport (including by air, ship, road and rail, including roll-on/roll-off transports) is classified by UK government as an essential activity in the context of its travel advice. The advice against non-essential travel is not intended to apply to international and domestic freight transport.”
17 March 2020
Department for Transport and Foreign & Commonwealth Office
The full advice for the freight transport industry can be found here.
Stay-home and delivery services
In response to the current social distancing and lockdown measures in place, businesses are urgently shifting their models to facilitate an e-commerce offering.
Whilst the likes of Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat have long worked closely with restaurants and takeaway providers, we are seeing a significant number of businesses in the pub, bar, and restaurant industry aligning with these services or offering their own delivery service.
The strain is being felt by the supply chain as a whole, with warehouse facilities and final mile delivery operations extremely stretched with the increased demand. Food and parcel delivery companies are relying on interim and temporary support to help manage the current stresses, which for many is a more viable solution than hiring in permanent staff. The postponement of the IR35 reform in the private sector until April 2021 will be a huge relief to companies at this time.
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Government support for businesses
There is no doubt that this is a challenging time for many. For individuals and businesses alike, the uncertainty and strict measures being put in place are causing major disruption. The Government continues to update the latest advice for businesses and employees about the current situation, but they are also advising on how they plan to support businesses throughout and beyond these times. You can find all the information about the packages for support to public services, people and businesses here.
How we can help your business
If there is any way we can support you, your team, or your business, please get in touch with your local Michael Page logistics consultant. We can offer the latest market insights, advice on how to manage remote hiring to meet increased demands and help connect individuals who may have been displaced due to reduced workforces with vacancies in your business.
As a business, we continue to work closely with our customers throughout this time to support whenever and however we can.