Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Logistics Operation Has Supply Chain Operational in 24 Hours After Port of Beirut Explosion

Plans for Forty Seven Various Disasters Sets Up Team Which Saw Office Destroyed
Shipping News Feature

LEBANON – As we predicted at the time the death toll in the terrible disaster in Beirut when thousands of tonnes of ammonium nitrate exploded in the dock area, cost the lives of over 180 souls with reportedly as many as 6,000 injured, the bulk of the casualties of course being staff and visitors to the port itself. The shipping industry is of course resilient as proved by one of the logistics groups resident in the immediate area.

Hague headquartered DAMCO maintains a Business Resilience (BR) Programme and within 24 hours had assessed the welfare of their staff in Lebanon and, in tandem with them, had the local operation back up and running within 24 hours using the programmes communication channels and protocols.

The Beirut team relocated all office functions to its warehouse facility in Dekwaneh, a suburb of the city, in order to keep the supply chains moving. Zera Zheng, Head of DAMCO Business Resilience and Security takes up the story:

“The immediate concern was ‘what is the status of the team members? Are you safe?’, our office was badly damaged in the blast, but fortunately there were only a few minor injuries across the team, and we were able to work on getting our processes operational as swiftly as possible.

“Business resilience is only effective with a strong, connected team and we are very fortunate to have that with our colleagues around the world. It is thanks to the perseverance of the local team and our BR Programme that office operations were up and running within 24 hours. Through communication and transparency via the BR App, we have continued strong relationships with our staff and customers by providing continuous updates on the situation, cargo, and alternative options for individual needs."

DAMCO has invested in, and developed, its BR Programme over the last two years, preparing staff globally for over 47 different supply chain damaging scenarios with the mission to ‘protect people, product, asset, profit’. A new Instant Message feature launched earlier this year for its BR App, means specific users or groups can be contacted quickly and speeds up information flow between local and global offices. Chief Executive Officer Saskia Groen-in’t-Woud, paid tribute to his staff:

“Our thoughts are with all of those who have suffered as a result of this terrible accident. We are incredibly proud of our team in Beirut for tenaciously keeping our customer’s supply chains moving and of our BR Programme, which meant that we were prepared and could work quickly to support our colleagues in real-time.”

Although local staff were fortunate to suffer only minor injuries, the psychological effects on them and their relatives remained, all having seen the carnage and destruction across the city, and here the global team worked to offer whatever assistance they could to their colleagues and their families. Nabil Zahlan, Managing Director of DAMCO Lebanon commented:

"The recent regrettable events in Lebanon have shown the importance of having a solid, viable, and tested BR Programme. We are proud to be able to continue assisting our international clients and also numerous Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and aid and relief agencies with warehouse and logistics services during this difficult time, as we have for the last 15 years."

The Lebanon operation is now running successfully from the 40,000 m3 capacity Dekwaneh facility, whilst in 2019 the BR Team successfully managed 94 disruptive events globally, and has since been working throughout the 2020 Covid-19 crisis to maintain global supply chains.

Photo: The wrecked Beirut office with (inset) the Damco team.