Warehousing & Logistics sector strives hard to deliver amidst COVID-19 lockdown
The domestic warehousing industry is experiencing many challenges to keep the business going during the lockdown. The 21-day lockdown imposed by the Government of India has been done to mitigate the risks of spread of coronavirus. However, this extreme measure has caused a lot of hurdles for the warehousing and logistics sector. The warehousing and logistics companies are grappling with these problems and are trying to overcome them by finding ways and solutions to maintain the supply chain.
Major ports have received cargos and now they are just lying over there and clogging the port. Whereas, branch warehouses in the eastern part of the country are stranded as they are waiting for approvals from local administration for the past 10 days. In the past, approval were mostly given in a span of two days.
Mavyn: The technology-driven logistics company that focuses on truckload (more than 800 km) transportation in India has its truckers waiting at these warehouses to unload essential cargo for over a week now. Moreover, a receiving warehouse is not a fulfillment centre or a manufacturing unit and this is also not an essential commodity warehouse. Due to this, approvals are needed for these warehouses during this COVID-19 crisis. Around 7000 truckers are registered with Mavyn and now only 4000 truckers are going across India carrying essential cargo consisting of groceries, essential manufacturing commodities and pharma products.
In the northern region of the country, warehousing functioning is quite smooth. Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) firms have helped companies like Delhi-based S M Logistics & Warehousing get the required permissions for warehouses as well as get their vehicles registered. As a result, they are able to transport essential goods regularly at a slow pace as they are short staffed. The company has separate warehousing facilities for essential and non-essential commodities. The warehouse facilities for non-essential items is closed currently.
The company is also practicing workplace safety with only one-fourth of our staff (including truckers) working at a time in view of social distancing norms.This is done by keeping staff rotational, working only from 10 am to 5 pm as per government guidelines. As a result, there is no issue on stocking and distribution of the goods.
In the southern region of the country, the warehouse for essentials goods remain open however, the industry is facing a challenge due to lack of manpower. In several areas close to Chennai, even essential commodities holding warehouses remain shut due to lack of labour.
At the Chennai Port, less than one-third of operations are taking place as just about one to two ships are docked at the port. At the same time, the container freight station (CFS) facility at the port is hardly operational since no labour is available.The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), the country’s largest container port, would soon move into congestion if cargo does not get lifted by importers in the next few days.
As part of easing the situation, government has been pushing on direct port delivery (DPD) service for a while now, which eliminates usage of CFSs to allow cargo delivery faster and cheaper. In the current scenario, around 53 percent of total container cargo handled at JNPT is delivered via DPD service.
These are difficult times but we shall overcome them soon.After this crisis is over, companies need to implement innovative technologies to make their businesses future ready.
How can we overcome this challenge and make warehousing and logistics future ready?
- Digitalising the process of warehousing would help online marketplaces fulfil growing demands during the lockdown
- Investing heavily in warehouse automation, delivery drones, and unmanned delivery robots — moves that, while perhaps intended to reduce long-term costs, also make the companies less vulnerable to potential labour shortages during such pandemics
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