April 29, 2020 Keeping Your Business Healthy During COVID-19 while preparing for the future Five tips to stay afloat now while preparing for the future. With companies across all industries dealing with unprecedented challenges and disruptions, more of them are asking themselves how they can effectively navigate this time of crisis and come out the other side resilient, healthy, and ready to ramp their operations back up. A global crisis that has spared very few, COVID-19 has pushed many firms into panic mode. The good news is that—like any other disruption—this one also has its limits. While the world waits for COVID-19 to become less of a threat to human life, and for business to return to some level of normalcy, companies can use these tips to stay afloat now while preparing for the future. Lean on your logistics partners. As container shipping capacity tightens due to an unprecedented number of blank sailings, JOC says shippers are making greater use of less-than-container load (LCL) services and cementing relationships with reliable third-party logistics providers (3PLs) in an effort to control costs. A partner with a strong carrier network, advanced technology capabilities, and a history of success in the freight industry can become your guiding light in these difficult times. Book ahead. If you need to secure freight, don’t wait. This is particularly true for ocean shipping, which has been greatly impacted by the global pandemic. In addition to reducing volumes of non-essential and/or seasonal goods, JOC says more shippers are booking space on vessels up to two weeks in advance of a “goods-ready” date to receive the most accurate quote and minimize the chances of being rolled over onto another vessel. This will ensure that shippers don’t encounter issues around additional charges or issues with rate validity of the quote, trying to avoid other pitfalls. Add rail to your transportation portfolio. Railroads have been keeping goods rolling amid COVID-19, according to Logistics Management. For example, Norfolk Southern’s industrial hygiene group took early steps to safeguard against shortages by researching various cleaning product brands to identify those effective against COVID-19 and enable NS to place bulk orders of one spray disinfectant in 55-gallon drums before the brand appeared on the CDC’s list of approved products. And, CSX’s focus on business continuity plans to minimize any potential operational impact. These plans include backup facilities where business-critical functions are able to quickly transition and continue seamless train operations, among others. Leverage the power of intermodal. With North American intermodal volume experiencing its worst April since the 2008-09 Great Recession — and no relief on the horizon amid the COVID-19 lockdown — Class I railroads say they’re focusing on what they can control in these uncertain times: costs and service, JOC reports. This presents opportunity for shippers that want to use intermodal to get their products from Point A to Point B. The rewards may go beyond the monetary: JOC says that with fewer loads to haul, intermodal service has been much better this year than during the 2018 capacity crunch, when shippers were frustrated by unreliable performance. Keep an eye on the road ahead. A recent Institute of Supply Management survey assessing the short- and long-term impacts of the outbreak found that nearly 75% of businesses report supply chain disruptions due to transportation restrictions related to COVID-19. “Given the complexity of the situation, the recovery—specifically in supply chains—will likely require unprecedented levels of orchestration,” Inbound Logistics reports. “The next few months are going to be challenging.” The publication tells shippers to conduct risk assessments, develop a risk management process, leverage technology, and assess logistics capacity as the road to recovery begins to take shape. “As you look to ramp up your business’s value chain, assess your existing logistics capacities to mitigate exposure to potential cost increases,” Inbound Logistics adds. “Collaboration is an effective strategy to increase logistics capacity and improve contingency planning.” Here at Odyssey Logistics, we’re watching the current events closely and working with customers to help them make the best possible supply chain and transportation decisions during this difficult time. We’re with you all the way, keeping you informed of the latest supply chain strategies, relaying the most updated and relevant industry news and serving as your valued partner.