Friday, May 1, 2020

Weekly Logistics News Round-Up Plagued with Surfeit of Virus Stories

Shipping Press Releases Just Cannot Avoid Being Infected
Shipping News Feature

UK – As has become the norm, this week the weekly round-up of smaller stories is mainly concerned with Covid-19 related matters. We kick off in West Yorkshire where a local road haulage operator and Pall-Ex network member has made a contribution to spreading the 'stay at home' message by adding the NHS plea to the rear doors of the company trucks.

ADD Express, along with the entire Pall-Ex network, have joined over 700 logistics businesses to put their combined fleet of 23,500 vehicles at the government’s disposal. Supporting the movement of any urgent medical equipment or supplies on a non-profit basis to help tackle the crisis and get essential goods to frontline workers.

UK – The RMT union demanded the government nationalised P&O Ferries this week as owners DP World prepared to pay shareholders a dividend totalling £270 million. P&O, once an iconic British name, employs 1,400 associated workers with all its ships now reflagged offshore.

The shipping company is expected to receive any benefit payable under the forthcoming government bailout whilst the RMT claims it has already received £10 million in the cost of furloughing workers.

UK – Commercial vehicle (CV) production fell 41.8% in March, with 5,219 units leaving production lines, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), down 3,807 on the same month last year.The EU, the UK’s biggest trading partner for commercial vehicles, saw a drop in exports of 43.3%, with 2,762 units shipped to Europe. Year-to-date commercial vehicle production has now fallen 22.0% with 21,473 units manufactured in the first quarter, some 6,000 fewer than in Q1 2019.

The news comes as SMMT publishes the results of a survey looking at the impact of Covid-19 on UK businesses across the automotive sector. 42.1% of CV manufacturers that responded believe a full recovery from the coronavirus crisis will take them at least 12 months with a third (36.8%) expecting a loss in revenue of 30% or more by the end of 2020. However, government schemes have offered a vital lifeline to many businesses, protecting thousands of jobs, with 57.7% of permanent staff in the CV manufacturing sector on furlough, able to return to work when the time comes.

UK – WORLDWIDE – Supply chain and logistics software specialist BluJay Solutions has released its latest version, 20.1, of its transportation, distribution, and compliance software applications. The new package includes nearly 300 new features including a Client Portal, which allows clients of BluJay shippers to create orders and track their shipments.

There are a host of changes to the TMS, including planning and tracking rail freight, invoice verification and new capabilities in the Warehouse Management, Cross Dock, and Transportation Management components of the platform. Customs options include a variety of country specific updates, whilst the Parcel and Dispatch modules further aid a wide variety of carriers.

NETHERLANDS – Automotive logistics specialist GEFCO is opening a new, 7,000 m2 Amsterdam warehouse to support expansion in its Air & Sea business operations. Opening in June 2020, it will provide storage and transport management services for customers at the global hub across a range of sectors.

With constant 24/7 monitoring, the new centre is Good Distribution Practice (GDP) compliant and ISO 9001:2015 certified and will provide integrated logistics operations for standard, dangerous or temperature-controlled goods including time critical services for urgent shipments. It is close to both to Schiphol Airport and the ports of Amsterdam and Rotterdam.

EUROPE – As the European Central Bank's Central Bank (ECB) decides to hold interest rates steady comes the following comment from the president of global trade finance provider Stenn Group, Dr Kerstin Braun who, whilst applauding Christine Lagarde for taking action similar to that of the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve, with the ECB taking hitherto unprecedented emergency actions to protect economies and markets, observed:

"The EU is not immune to disagreement over the extent of the ECB’s actions. With the Eurozone expected to shrink by as much as 15% this year, ECB asset purchases could top €1 trillion, potentially crossing a thorny threshold regarding the amount of debt it can take on from each nation.

”Even so, this amount, along with the €500 million pledge by governments for business and household liquidity, probably won’t be enough to stop the economic damage from the pandemic. Getting more relief will undoubtedly cause a familiar family feud between the rich and poor country members. However, letting the weaker economies implode would be much worse for the EU in the long run."

MAURITIUS – Vimana Private Jets, a company more used to rushing celebrities around the globe, is to use its luxury fleet of aircraft to transport 1,000 tonnes of medical equipment to international destinations requiring assistance. Since the start of the pandemic, the company has already delivered over 300 tonnes of medical resources (including face masks, PPE and medicines) to countries where hospitals lack the critical means to treat Covid-19 patients.

WORLDWIDE – This week’s World Ports Sustainability Program (WPSP) Port Economic Impact Barometer Report states of the seventy six global ports surveyed the majority report a relatively stable situation compared to the previous weeks, with slight improvements noted in some areas of port continuity. Container vessel calls shows a mixed picture compared to the situation in the previous weeks. Over half of respondents report a stable situation (vs. 41% last week), a figure similar to the situation in weeks 15 and 16.

On the other hand, the share of ports facing significant decreases in container vessel calls (in excess of a 25% drop) climbs to 11%, compared to less than 10% last week and only 2-3% in the first two survey weeks. The situation for the other cargo vessels is slightly improving with more ports now even reporting increases in vessel calls.

Photo: ADD Express vehicles display their message of support.