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Louisville Switching Blog

5 Ways COVID-19 Affects the Shipping Industry

Posted by Louisville Switching

Jun 3, 2020 11:54:53 AM

5 Ways COVID-19 Affects the Shipping Industry

We live in an unprecedented time, unlike anything many of us have ever experienced. As COVID-19 continues to rattle every aspect of industry in the United States, logistics and supply chain operations remain vital to the survival of this country, despite also being deeply affected. 

Disruptions to the supply chain have immediate impacts on businesses across industries, but also long-term effects we have yet to see. It is the job of the shipping and logistics industry to keep goods moving smoothly. That job has become much more difficult with the added pressure and strain on resources. New plans have to be made to not only operate as close to normal as possible, but to also ensure the health and safety of workers. 

The future is unpredictable. With things constantly shifting, it can be difficult to see the big picture of how changes happening now will affect the industry in the future. Here are just a few ways COVID-19 has affected the shipping and logistics industry:

1. Increased Need for Safety

This is a delicate time for everyone, especially those above a certain age or with underlying health conditions. Just like with any industry, precautions are needed to minimize the risk of infection and inhibit the spread of the virus within the businesses that make up the shipping and logistics industry. To keep workers and their contacts safe, new measures have had to be put in place. The shipping and logistics industry is an essential service, but there must be a balance between supporting these critical operations and maintaining safety for everyone involved.

2. Drop in Imports from China and Europe

One of the first areas of shipping to be affected by the pandemic was imports from China, where the virus first became widespread. This was followed soon after by other countries, like those in Europe. Shipping and logistics, especially in ports, were affected in the United States before the virus was even here because of a drop in imports from other countries. This has led to a shortage of essentials, such as medical supplies and other day-to-day goods. However, there is a hopeful outlook on the global supply chain as China and some other countries begin to recover from the pandemic.

3. Drop in Commercial Transportation

Between March and May, there has been a significant drop in transportation across the US and Canada, especially in the industrial, commercial, retail, and warehouse industries, according to Geotab. Curbside and online sales have helped offset the toll taken by canceled events; restaurants, bars, retail stores, schools, and hotels closing to in-person traffic; and the drop in manufacturing operations. The only business within the shipping industry to not have seen a significant drop is grocery delivery. With an increased need for grocery delivery and the importance of medical supply shipping, trucking companies usually specializing in other industries have started to pick up these shipments to stay in operation.

4. Changes in the Supply Chain

Beginning with a drop in imports, the supply chain has shifted greatly in the US. Medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) are now needed more urgently than ever, coupled with supply pressure from consumers. Logistics companies struggle to keep medical supplies and other basic goods moving. Manufacturing companies have weeks of delays in receiving supplied and raw materials. At this time, it is hard to meet demands. One good thing that can affect the shipping and logistics industry, however, is the increased domestic production of things like PPE and hand sanitizer, which requires domestic logistics to transport.

5. Need for a New Model for the Future

While everyone and every industry is trying to become accustomed to our "new normal," the shipping and logistics industry looks to the future and how to keep going during this unpredictable time. Vessels have to be kept in operational order to transport critical cargo across the country and beyond. Crisis management plans have to be formed and put in place to help deal with interruptions in supply chains. The supply chain models, themselves, may have to be altered to reduce the impact of the virus. New government regulations may also affect supply chain locations. Plans need to be in place to help adjust to this new normal and how to move forward and recover.

Shipping and logistics will continue to play a necessary role in overcoming this crisis, even as everything from day-to-day operations to government regulations to the virus itself constantly changes. Adapting to our environment will prove to be a critical step in ensuring the survival of organizations in every industry and the eventual return to normal of our operations and global supply chain.

Should you have any questions or need assistance with your yard trucks or yard operations during this time, please contact Louisville Switching. We are in this with you for the long haul.

Topics: events, Logistics