Published October 15th, 2020
Impact of COVID-19 on the Global Supply Chain
The global supply chain has been experiencing disruptions since the rise of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Due to strict lockdowns, critical parts of the logistics system, such as depots and warehouses, has been significantly slowed down.
Some facilities remained open – with limited capacity – to cater to the movement of essential goods, while others needed to close temporarily because of the health risk posed by the virus. In effect, members of the supply chain need to work around challenges, such as limited staffing, restricted distribution channels and routes, and limited inventory spaces.
On the other hand, there is an upheaval in consumer buying patterns as people turn to e-commerce to purchase their goods; this has created a need for other depots and warehouses to reopen to accommodate the unprecedented increase in the movement of goods and demand for storage and distribution spaces.
As supply chain facilities such as depots resume operations, there is a constant need to adapt for long-term changes on how companies manage their supply chains in the face of the coronavirus threat. To help plan for a safe and effective depot reopening amid the pandemic, this article tackles:
- the best practices when reopening depots;
- digital tool for planning depot reopenings and conducting safety inspections;and
- free depot reopening checklists that you can download and customize.
Best Practices for Reopening Depots
Whether it is resuming operations after a temporary closure or adapting current workflows to the ‘new normal’ in depot operations, the depot operations industry have chosen key strategies to help protect the health and safety of their employees while ensuring efficient and safe resumption of operations in the supply chain. Here are some of the best practices currently being employed to help curb the spread of the coronavirus in depot facilities:
Conducting End-to-End Supply Chain Risk Assessments
Responsiveness is key in getting depot operations up and running after a closure. It is vital to conduct risk assessment across the supply chain ecosystem to be able to immediately plan mitigation actions. According to EY Global, a supply chain consulting services firm, there are three key steps in doing a supply chain risk health check:
Identify changing demand and inventory levels to locate critical gaps in supply, production capacity, warehousing, and transportation
Define common goals and an actionable short-term and outcome-driven resilience strategy with breakdown activities among the supply chain ecosystem, aiming to effectively and efficiently leverage additional networks among various suppliers’ pool, production, and distribution networks.
Deploy—Leading companies build action plans based on scenario analyses to limit the impact of disasters. A fact-based dashboard, including aligned KPIs help to create enterprise-wide and ecosystem visibility. This can help a company dynamically re-prioritize its plans as needed.
Implementing applicable social distancing measures
Social distancing will be the new norm in depots.Some of the measures include:
- Limiting access to the facility. Meet drivers and other non-essential visitors in the yard vs. having them come into the facility, and if required to enter take their temperatures first.
- Limiting daily breaks and lunch to on-site locations so workers are not exposed to infections outside of the workplace. Limit interaction among employees during shift changes. Conduct regular team stand-up meetings in smaller groups of 10 or less.
- Creating ample pick and deposit locations in support of workplace zones and work segmentation and balancing. Create zones to segregate colleagues in order to simplify adherence to social distancing measures (6 feet apart).
- Designating individual work zones for each colleague who can work in a fixed location. Mark the floor where possible to clearly define these zones.
Enforcing strict monitoring/logging procedures
Having a well-documented monitoring process for procedures such as temperature logging or health screenings can help depot operations managers easily identify causes in case of a new COVID-19 case and strengthen compliance to industry reopening guidelines. Some strategies for strict monitoring/logging procedures include:
- Requiring health questionnaires for those drivers who are spending extended time in a facility should be completing the health questionnaire
- Requiring the completion of driver logs for those drivers traveling to multiple/different cities each day.
- Requiring temperature checks for anyone who enters the facility and ensuring that these are documented in a temperature log.
Even before the pandemic, technology solutions have been pivotal in helping depot processes improve operational efficiency; with the health risks posed by the current situation; these solutions may be needed more than ever.
Digital technologies, such as Internet-of-things (IoT), artificial intelligence, wearables, and autonomous devices such as drones and robot pickers, can be used to help protect workers from COVID-19. They can help automate functions such as demand forecasting and stock allocations, provide additional help when the depot is operating at a limited manpower capacity, and serve as monitoring tools if social distancing guidelines are being observed.
Improving depot facility cleaning processes and procedures
Increased attention is given to disinfection of work areas, break room and restroom facilities. Since it’s also been proven that the virus can live on surfaces such as cardboard, plastics, and stainless steel for days, depot workers are also advised to wipe down handrails, desks, lifts and other similar high-touch contact surfaces.
Routinely check that social distancing and sanitisation measures are being adhered to. Use CCTV or real-time location tracking where available. Act quickly to highlight and address any deviation from the standards
Prepare for the New Normal in Depot Operations with iAuditor
The daily life of depot workers will continue to experience significant changes that will define the future of depot operations. As the global pandemic situation continually evolves, reopening depots will require transformation that protects the welfare of people, while also encouraging lean management practices to improve efficiency.
To help get you started, we have collected depot reopening checklists from iAuditor by SafetyCulture. These are designed to help depot facility managers to plan for the safe reopening of their facilities amid the pandemic and schedule safety inspections to ensure compliance with COVID-19 health and safety guidelines.
Disclaimer: Please note that these checklists are hypothetical examples and provide basic information only. They are not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should also seek professional advice to determine if the use of such checklists are permissible in your workplace or jurisdiction.
Featured Depot Reopening Checklist Templates
COVID-19 Warehouse Depot Check
This warehouse depot reopening checklist template can serve as a guide to help depot operations managers plan inspections for areas in a warehouse/depot that may need to be checked more frequently.
Depot Safety Inspection Checklist
Use this depot safety inspection checklist to ensure that all areas and functions in the depot facility are compliant to internal safety standards before deciding to reopen the facility.
Social Distancing Plan for Depots/Warehouses
This social distancing plan template can serve as a pandemic planning tool for depot operations managers to help in implementing strict social distancing measures in depot facilities.
Facilities Reopening Readiness Checklist
This checklist can be used by depot facility managers to perform facilities readiness assessments for reopening after a lockdown. It can help ensure that the facilities system are functional and policies are up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 guidelines to ensure the safe return of employees and customers
Warehouse Walkthrough Checklist
This warehouse safety compliance checklist is a walkthrough inspection tool which checks the condition of aisles, stairs, ladders, and air emissions. Use this warehouse assessment checklist template before you start your shift to identify if employees wear appropriate PPE, aware of the emergency procedures and are fully trained on material handling.