The coronavirus crisis has transformed the world into a battlefield. As the world frays and lives and livelihoods continue to be held hostage by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential for the sector to armour up in this global fight against the crisis. Robust measures will play a crucial role in enabling the logistics and warehousing sector to jump back on its feet. In this cover feature, we explore the possibilities of the sector to recover in the post-COVID world as we take insights from the industry experts on how to fasten the recovery process while focusing on measures that can liberate the sector from the consequences of the catastrophe.
The year 2020 has been a bumpy ride for the logistics sector. Marred by tapering growth as compared to the previous few years, the ongoing crisis has further delivered a heavy blow to the sector, with problems like scarcity of workers and transportation issues adding to its misery. However, the show must still go on, and as the country prepares to gear up for resuming operations post lockdown, it is time for the sector to take up robust strategies to tide over the crisis as well as prevent any future outages.
Risk Management Strategies
The current situation demands resilient strategies that can help companies tide over the present crisis. Although there has been significant relief for logistics, with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) issuing a green signal for operations to resume as per its April 15 guidelines, a lot still remains to be done as the sector reels under financial crisis and backlogged cargo. Hence, it is imperative for companies to enforce robust Risk Management strategies and Business Contingency plans, in order to help them combat the problems.
Recovery 101: Taking Recourse to Technology
With social distancing being the norm of the times, companies are now planning policies to reduce human interface as much as possible. Due to this, a shift towards utilising technology is being felt now, more than ever.
Although technology is not new to the logistics and supply chain sector, yet now it has also seen participation at the express logistics level.
It is expected that the COVID-19 epidemic will have a catalytic power in speeding up the increase in market share of online purchasing, as more consumers will adopt the channel having experienced its use during the pandemic. Additionally, sellers will continue to outsource their marketing and shipment handling, as a large proportion lack the scale and ability to invest in technology and infrastructure.
Use of Cloud Platforms and SaaS solutions:
Logistics Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) will become main-stream in this fight against the pandemic. The availability of Cloud Platforms and SaaS solutions will enable organisations to easily adopt digital solutions without increasing their Capex drastically. Cloud solutions have the ability to scale up easily and in line with an organisation’s business performance and growth plans.
Robotics and AI:
An inclination towards resorting to Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is slowly, but surely emerging in the logistics fraternity. Mr L. Venkateswaran writes further on how it will redefine the entire process. “Traditional business processes and flows that are repetitive and require manual intervention can also be streamlined and automated using Robotics Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). These innovations will also bring impetus to changes in warehouse operations.
“There is a need for two things, firstly to identify the most impacted areas and secondly for a simultaneous strategy to manage resources in the most challenging and affected areas. Artificial and business intelligence will be the Key Contributor to strategy in Supply Chain. Medium and SME Logistics companies need to have a collaborative strategy with other Logistic companies to minimise the impact.”~Harpreet Singh Sachdeva & Harjeet Singh Sachdeva ,Directors, North West Carrying Company LLP (NWCC) India
“Recovery from this lockdown and pandemic is going to be slow and steady. One should be realistic and appreciate the fact that it will take time for things to go back to normal. While the entire country has been in under lockdown, supply chain and logistics has been working tirelessly around the clock to ensure timely supplies of essential items.”~CA Gaurav Agrawal, Director, R Logistics Park, Raipur
“Logistics Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) will become mainstream. Companies can easily set up the software via the cloud and pay as they go. This is hassle-free and will ensure savings as they will no longer have to pay upfront annual costs and go through the pain of setting up on-premise infrastructure.”~Krishna Khandelwal, Chief Business Officer, Locus.sh
“Only if there is a complete bounce back i.e. if airlines and shipping lines start running, we can see some realisations and have an outlook on the future. Precisely speaking, we need to wait and see the events as it unfolds in the coming days. But in my opinion, cargo stakeholders should switch to digitization soon so that bouncing back to normalcy the post-COVID world won’t be a trouble.”~Amar More, CEO, Kale Logistics
“Third party logistics companies should be working hard to understand the supply chain trends which are likely to unfold as a result, and modify their own networks, technology, infrastructure and service capabilities to complement their customers’ need for risk mitigation and possible diversification in supply patterns.”~Lakshmanan Venkateswaran, Sub Regional MD (South Asia), GEODIS
”We have chartered out several strategic plans that will be implemented, where technology & process engineering will be the backbone for sustainable / high quality controls. We will be procuring more and more automated goods handling equipment, dock levelers to optimize loading/unloading operations, protective gears for all our personnel deployed at hubs, warehouses, vehicles and offices.”~Abhik Mitra, MD and CEO, SpotOn Logistics
“Factors such as regulatory and cost are two such factors which would need to be considered for implementing zero human touch point implementation. A global governing body needs to put in a process to achieve global standardisation by logistics players and to get a kick start the post-COVID world.”Rajiv Singh, Managing Director, Cargo Partner Logistics India
Speeding up the Recovery Process
The pandemic has inevitably caused irreparable damage to the logistics and supply chain sector. The time is incumbent upon the stakeholders of the industry to come up with an effective plan in fastening the recovery process in the post-COVID world.
This is an abridged version of the cover feature of May Issue of Logistics Insider Magazine. Click here to grab your e-copy of Logistics Insider magazine and read the complete unedited version.