While many businesses are non-operational and shuttered amid the nationwide lockdown, the logistics sector is the only one operating in overdrive to keep the supplies of essentials and important items moving. The domestic warehousing industry is facing challenges to keep the business going amid the pandemic situation.
Warehouses are a fundamental part of any business infrastructure and is one of the key enablers in the supply chain. One may call it the fulcrum for procurement, manufacturing and distribution services which collectively build robust economies. Hence, maintaining efficiency in warehouses have become extremely crucial.
With the spread of the pandemic, a drastic shift has been observed in the consumer behaviour leading to increased ecommerce demand and rapid adoption of omni-channel distribution models by companies.
As per a report by Savills, “The demand from e-commerce, FMCG and pharma industry will help push demand for warehousing in the nation and help it recover faster amid the pandemic.”
However, despite the exemption from lockdown and the surge in demand of warehousing, companies are struggling to maintain efficiency in operations at the ground level.
Hurdles faced in maintaining efficiency in warehouses
While the disruption in the global supply chain is arguably not as severe as the impact of COVID-19, amid the spread of the virus, many shippers have found it difficult to operate.
Many state governments in order to contain the virus, restricted operations of warehouses despite it being exempted by the centre, causing severe disruptions in the operations and movement of essentials.
According to reports, companies amid the lockdown are operating at a 40-60% capacity only, as only essential goods and services are operational.
The lockdown and shutting of borders have turned out to be a speed bump in the way of the logistics warriors. Not only has it resulted in reduced manpower but also caused difficulties for logistics professionals to get necessary permissions.
Speaking on the same, Kapil Premchandani from KD Supply Chain Solutions informed, “We had to run back and forth to get the necessary approvals from the local administration/government bodies for operating the warehouses during this time. Also, amidst Covid-19 lockdown, we are struggling with reduced manpower. However, our robust IT systems have enabled us to get the maximum throughput during this time.”
Mr Premchandani also told us that they were initially struggling with bringing in drivers in order to transport essentials across areas, which was later solved by providing them with safety gears and precautionary measures.
“Initially we struggled with drivers’ absenteeism in the transportation area. However, after providing them with necessary permissions, sanitizers, masks, safety and precautionary training, we are no more facing those challenges.”~Kapil Premchandani, Founder and Managing Director, KD Supply Chain Soutions PvtLtd
Prioritizing Health & Safety of Workers
The safety of the workers in a warehouse is one of the most crucial factors to be considered. Lack of precautions could lead to closing down of the warehouse for an indefinite period of time.
Companies are changing their operations on the fly to ensure their warehouses keep up with the demand for groceries and other essential supplies while prioritizing health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While commenting on the steps taken at the premises to ensure health and safety during the pandemic, Mr Premchandani said, “We have done sanitisation (cold fogging) at our KDL Park premises, including main entrance, vehicle parking area, drainage chambers, drivers’ room, outside sanitary facilities of all warehouses.”
“Similar procedures have also been carried out at KDL warehouses in Sonadevi (SPYKER, Mondelez, Asian Paints) and KDL PARK 2 – Colpal warehouse,” he added.
Apart from sanitizing the premises, companies are also training their employees to ensure social distancing and are providing them with essentials such as mask, sanitizers, gloves etc. to ensure hygienic and safe operations.
Warehouse operators should have a strict no questions asked self-isolation policy where any member of staff exhibiting symptoms immediately calls in sick, or if they are at work immediately goes home, and follows government advice.
As we move into the new normal, we expect warehouses to adopt more and more automation tools as social distancing will become the new reality and warehouses will have to keep an eye on the human staff’s health at all times.