5 Steps to Protect Logistics Operations from COVID-19 Disruption

Though it is an added stressor at this precarious moment, the time will never be more appropriate to take action toward improving enterprise logistics processes.  Here are five ways shippers can protect logistics operations during the pandemic and promote improvement that lasts well into the recovery and beyond.

Identify Potential Risks
The current crisis highlights the sobering reality – that disruptions can and will occur with regularity.  Assess not only the potential risks Coronavirus poses to current operations, but also other possible disruptions that commonly impact your industry.  Changes to trade policy, known seasonal volume cycles, labor shortages, legislative/regulatory changes and capacity crunches are some good examples.

Develop a Risk Mitigation Strategy
Define
the contours of your supply chain network from end-to-end – inbound from vendors to production facilities and outbound from DCs to customers. Game out how the risk(s) you’ve identified may impact each supply chain and be prepared with strategies to react in real-time to disruptions as they occur.

Validate Capacity Within the Logistics Network
Collaborate
with your carrier partners to determine the strength of your relationship and each carrier’s appetite for delivering capacity to you when it matters most.  When unexpected spikes in demand occur is the worst time to learn that a carrier partner is unable or unmotivated to help keep your loads covered. Doing the preemptive work of validating capacity helps a shipper prepare to access capacity while minimizing cost increases during unpredictable events.

Minimize Potential Disruptions to Supply Chains
Diversifying
the array of suppliers within the supply chain is as important as diversifying the carriers within the network.  Advance planning enables an organization to quickly shift to alternative suppliers (and the ability to move freight in alternative shipping lanes supporting this shift) when circumstances prevent the flow of freight through regular, established channels. This agility is critical to minimizing

Embrace Logistics Technology Solutions
A good, cloud-based TMS solution can greatly augment efforts in all four of the above mentioned areas.  TMS captures the historical data needed to correctly assess the more predictable risks such as seasonality and prior instances of labor market changes. A strong TMS will also support the ability to model disruption scenarios like disasters, trade wars, etc.

Network modeling tech tools are a boon to transportation logistics management and, fed with historical rate and performance data from a strong cloud TMS, these tools help shippers develop plausible plans they can snap into effect should the need arise to engage alternative supply chains during a period of disruption.

The carrier management features of modern TMS solutions are adept at fostering strong collaboration with carrier partners and developing stronger relationships that help sustain your operation during times of duress when all shippers are seeking increased support and capacity.

Similarly, the control and visibility delivered by a good TMS solution supports the accurate management of a diversified supply chain.  Whether it is a secondary group of suppliers with all pickup and delivery locations preemptively configured or a shadow network of onboarded carriers ready to pull in alternative lanes, TMS tech enables diversification necessary to minimize disruption.

In spite of these unprecedented challenges, now is the time to consider action to improve supply chain tech.  Yes, it’s a double edge sword. The global pandemic brings the necessity of strong supply chain logistics to the forefront of the discussion among enterprise supply chain leadership.  Yet, the exigency of the challenges facing logistics operations makes it easier to accept the deferment of any upgrade until “things calm down” and the urgency of making such changes is lost. We urge enterprise shippers to act now while the need for protecting logistics operations has never been more acutely felt.