How Logistics Are Changing in a COVID-19 World

These are unprecedented times, and we are all experiencing changes in our day-to-day activities. How we work, eat, shop, and socialize has been impacted. These changes have brought new sets of challenges and new questions for the future. One question is how are logistics affected, and what changes are occurring within industries? Before COVID-19 hit, most of us were used to quick turnaround and large inventories of items to choose from. Same or next-day delivery options were becoming the standard. We are all feeling the delays and shortages this pandemic has created within our supply chain, but are there also some positives that could come out of this new environment?

With the current pandemic many warehouses and distribution companies are taking extra precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their facilities. To protect their workers, distribution companies are staggering their work shifts, temporarily reconfiguring common areas, adjusting operations in work areas, and either eliminating daily team meetings or finding a larger space to hold them in order to follow the CDC distancing guidelines.

Looking ahead it’s likely we will see more permanent changes with distribution. Health checks and standard protocols may be put in place to ensure no one is experiencing symptoms of illness. Another strategy to increase social distancing and create more space within facilities is design adjustments within the warehouse/factory, which may include expanding the footprint. Many companies have already adopted the use of robotics throughout the years, but with the current pandemic, we can expect a more rapid implementation of robotics in manufacturing, warehouses, and distribution centers. Additionally, to prevent touching of common equipment, it’s likely companies will utilize more voice and optical technologies.

As the U.S. works to rely less on overseas suppliers the demand for distribution and warehouse space is likely to increase. More manufacturing facilities are anticipated to locate to North America to help facilitate higher inventory levels, and to keep our supply chain stronger and more efficient during times of crisis. In this rapidly growing e-commerce world, many retail stores are already starting to convert some of their space into fulfillment centers, so they are able to send out inventory more rapidly to consumers.

Trucks have been an essential part of logistics companies and our supply chain. Travel via air or water has become a less stable distribution option with the pandemic, and as a result trucks have become heavily relied upon to move products and materials. With the anticipation of more distribution centers and warehouses in North America, we can anticipate a higher demand for trucking distribution as well.

So, what changes can we expect in the construction industry as a result of some of these changes? We anticipate a surge in manufacturing, warehouse, factories, and other supply chain related construction projects. We may also see a rise in modular adoption. Modular construction can increase site safety while reducing congestion. A climate-controlled assembly line factory setting can be more efficient and save on labor costs, while keeping the project on schedule. Since the supply chain has been unpredictable during this pandemic, contractors are looking at alternative suppliers to prevent the risk of not having materials on site when needed. In fact, some clients are requiring contractors to include back up sources for materials. Having several material suppliers can be a more expensive option, but for some contractors it may outweigh the risk of costly project delays.

Things are changing every day with COVID-19, and the next few months will give us a better picture of how logistics companies will continue to adapt to this pandemic. Despite the unforeseen challenges we face today, there are also many opportunities to help strengthen the future of logistic companies in the U.S. As always, the team at Tri-North is here to help in any way we can. When it comes to the newest technology, and information from the CDC, Tri-North is staying up-to-date regarding facility safety and quality – our Service Solutions division is available for assessments, and will be there for any renovations or upgrades you may need in order to keep your facility in peak condition.

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