The coronavirus outbreak (confirmed as a pandemic by the WHO last week) has further exposed the challenges of 'just in time' supply chains.
This year, we have already seen unprecedented stormy weather, and due to the efforts of crew, stevedores and front-line staff at logistics companies, disruption has really been kept to a minimum.
The team at Condor are also to be given huge credit for this, with changes to schedules and an additional vessel at times, to reduce the impact during this challenging period.
The empty shelves we have seen this week have been down to consumer behaviour, rather than the supply chain.
These shortages aren’t just restricted to Jersey, or the Channel Islands. Shops and supermarkets the world over have been affected by panic-buying and shoppers stockpiling 'essentials' such as loo roll, hand sanitiser and pasta; something that reflects on the consumer rather than the supply chain.
Pictured: Condor have taken "a very sensible precaution" and removed passengers from their freight vessel.
The announcement at the end of the week by Condor that they would be removing passengers from their freight vessels is in my view a very sensible precaution. It is of course inconvenient for some – but at times like these, we all have to work together for the greater good of the islands and islanders.
We are now seeing the real value of good planning. Logistics companies locally and nationally have robust contingency plans that are being implemented. For example we are seeing different processes being implemented for collections and at receiving depots, to ensure goods can get to the ferries.
Again on arrival, procedures have changed, for example simple things like drivers signing all paperwork rather than sharing, as is the norm. Whilst the people involved will be aware of what has changed, it is done in such a fashion as to have minimal impact on the customer, with the end-consumer wholly unaware of the subtle changes as goods continue to arrive on time.
Readers will be pleased to know that storage enquiries for both the UK south coast, and the Islands, has increased as some businesses are looking to hold more stock within their control.
Pictured: some consumers have bought more than they need, disrupting the supply chain.
In recent days demand has increased locally by around 25%; I am sure this has not been matched by consumption. The advice yesterday from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) was for consumers to work together and be considerate: ensuring others have essentials in the community, rather than bulk-buying for oneself is a far better way to go.
Whilst many have been encouraged to work from home, front-line staff aren’t able to do this.
Be assured that logistics companies are prepared for the challenges, there is plenty of capacity on vessels, and if needed, I am sure that logistic companies will work together to support each other if required.
Andy Jehan is the Chief Executive of PDFS and a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Logistics and Transport.
The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and not Bailiwick Express.
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