Traceability under pressure

The logistics sector is collectively holding its breath now that coronavirus is tightening its grip on Europe too. The problems in China are already affecting manufacturing activities due to shortages of certain parts and semi-finished products. This is causing other stock to pile up in warehouses. In the meantime, retailers such as Blokker, Action and Coolblue are selling out of many items. Port of Rotterdam predicts its freight throughput will fall by 2 million tonnes. The chaos is mounting and traceability is under increasing pressure as the virus spreads throughout Europe.

Full and accurate overview

Last week, one of our customers asked us “Where exactly are my goods?” and “Are those people safe?”. The customer has clients in northern Italy and sends several large shipments there on a weekly basis. Reports mention around a dozen towns and villages in the area going into lockdown. That’s why our customer was keen to gain a full and accurate overview of all their shipments, cross-docking locations, carriers and delivery locations. In the case of international transport activities such as these, it is usually easy to gain a detailed overview of the entire supply chain. Even though the order quantities, volumes, dimensions, shipment types and dates as well as delivery addresses fluctuate from day to day.

Zooming in

Our tracking and tracing services are supported by dashboards, which enable us to provide our customers with clear insight into all their freight movements. We aggregate the data to present them with the complete picture. In response to the customer’s request, we zoomed in on northern Italy where 1,700 people are currently infected with coronavirus.

Besides reporting on the current situation, we were also able to trace where else the carriers and their drivers had made deliveries and which routes they normally take. That was no easy task because while some carriers have their own employees, others make use of sub-contractors. But eventually we managed to provide our customer with all the necessary information: no deliveries had been made to locations in the affected area in the past couple of weeks. Additionally, the contracted carriers are taking precautionary measures such as using antibacterial soap and face masks. Although the face-mask supply chain is struggling to cope with the huge surge in demand…

No guarantees

While such precautionary measures are certainly reassuring, they offer no guarantees. After all, truck drivers are human too. They need to refuel and take breaks, and they come into regular contact with their family, friends and colleagues. That’s why we strongly advise all our customers to follow health and safety protocols and to immediately alert the authorities in the case of any irregularities. In the meantime, our customers are taking various steps to prevent the virus from spreading. That includes working from home, avoiding non-essential travel, not visiting industry events, not shaking hands and performing extra cleaning. One of our customers has even introduced temperature checks at the gate. They are turning away any visitors showing signs of a fever. It is important that the industry does whatever it can to minimize the spread of the virus and optimally safeguard the continuity of transport operations.