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The chaos caused by Covid-19 will lead to far greater use of technology, which until now has lagged in logistics compared with other industries.
Some 67% of shipping and freight professionals plan to invest in technology following the Covid crisis, according to a survey conducted by Shipping and Freight Resource and sponsored by Ocean Insights.
One-third said investing in staff would be the first step to recovery, while a quarter opted for investing in assets.
The pandemic has heightened the need for technology, said respondents, especially in the area of supply chain visibility and the need for real-time information.
“Logistics still needs to undergo a technological transformation (long queues at the European borders this month highlighted again the lack of visibility during transport and lack of reliable ETA),” noted one.
Others suggested that, while they already operate online, they needed to enhance their IT capabilities and reduce manual processes.
Most companies seem fairly confident in their ability to recover from the pandemic crisis, with only 2% believing they won’t. However, the recovery is unlikely to be quick: 43% expect a slow recovery, 38% moderate and 19% expect a fast recovery, while 3% remain unsure.
The survey compilers noted: “While the new normal is something that we will all have to get used to, it is refreshing to see that the industry is not down and out, but accepting of the hit it has taken and ready to take the required actions to bounce back stronger and more secure than ever.”
And the industry has taken a hit. Just under 60% said their operations were significantly affected, while 25% were moderately affected. A lucky – and surprising – 1% said they were unaffected.
Most, 70%, have experienced volume decline, while 61% complained of transit delays. Half saw delays from the port to customers, while 40% cited lack of capacity as a problem.
Late or non-payments, cancelled credit lines, volatility and increased costs were also noted.
More than a third, however had experienced a partial supply chain shutdown with significant delays, while roughly the same amount pointed to “glitches” that had caused a few days’ worth of delays. But 14% said the supply chain had adapted without issue. Only 9% reported a complete supply chain shutdown.
And the future? It will change. Nearly half (42%) said they would change their strategy based on the experience of the Covid crisis. Just under one-third said they might change strategy, but the same number said they would not.
The survey noted: “Global supply chains and shipping as we know them will be different. Sharing information and understanding best practices will enable the industry to come together and combat this as a whole. If there was ever a time for collective efforts, it is now.”
The survey was answered by more than 300 shipping and freight professionals across the world, 96% of which were from carriers, logistics providers, freight forwarders/NVOs, consultants and shippers/BCOs.