As 70% of England move to Tier 3 on Saturday and Wales announce strict new lockdown measures from the 28th December, we consider the impact of a further national lockdown on operational and freight infrastructure.
The COVID pandemic has starkly highlighted our reliance on, and the fragility of, extended supply chains to lockdowns and the subsequent economic demand that congests them.
Through supply chain management systems, like Metro’s MVT (my visibility tool) platform, the global connectedness of business is more visible than ever before, so what can we do to address the impact of future restrictions on those areas where we only have indirect control.
When considering supply chain resilience, we tend to look towards options for failsafe and maintaining efficiency across the geographic locations of our supply chain paths.
Against a potential backdrop of UK and localised restrictions irrespective of geography, it is essential to fully understand the impact on our operations and of the suppliers and critical participants we rely upon.
These ‘critical participants’ comprise a vast array of ‘essential workers’ in supply chain infrastructure – from delivery drivers, to warehousemen and dockers – all of which is diminished significantly by lockdowns and COVID-safe working practices.
Building resilience requires a view of the supply chain that is dynamic and fact-based, such as the visibility provided by MVT, which can be re-aligned to reflect the changing formation of the supply chain.
We need to start by considering the impact on the supply chain if a particular service were to suddenly stop and how long the business could continue without further supply.
These answers will help develop buffer stock and supply chain staging strategies that will not disrupt customer operations.
The current supply chain congestion, that is impacting carriers, origin and destination ports and landslide operations, is forecast to continue up to Chinese New Year in February. Any additional UK lockdown will further extend and exacerbate this period of disruption, adding further delay and cost.
Metro advise customers on alternative routings and transport modes, that reflects their cargo’s urgency and overcomes obstacles, which may change during transit.
Traders should also consider their suppliers’ dependency on further supply tiers and the disruption or reduced service that may follow further restrictions on any of these tiers.
There have been plenty of trade journal articles documenting cancelled confirmed orders, refused payments and suppliers left to foot the bill of disruption and doubtless these decisions are being taken as protective measures. Buyers should always take time to consider the future ramifications of short-term decisions and reactions.
During any future lockdowns, this may play a pivotal role in whether a critical part of the supply chain choose to support the buyer’s organisation.
The longer term collaborative strategy is Metro’s preference, in becoming our customers’ ideal partners – becoming as invaluable to them as they are to us.