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Consumer Goods Logistics Blog


Examining Freight Delivery Challenges During COVID-19

Published by Larry Catanzaro on April 09, 2020

We’ve seen no negative impact on KANE customers’ freight during COVID-19 – a great accomplishment that has required a spirited effort by our transportation team. Here are some of the issues we’ve had to face.

Uncertain Circumstances

freight delivery challengesEfficient freight programs feed on predictability, but that’s gone out the window since early February. During March, we had almost 400 orders booked and cancelled by our customers. That’s a whole lot of scheduling, rescheduling, and driver redeployment – mostly done by our customer service team and driver managers.

There is no guarantee that stores will be open and consignees available to accept loads. That has meant constant communications between CSRs and consignees. In a few instances, we had to quarantine product for an extended period of time as plants we just picked up from had to shut down due to COVID-19-related issues, further illustrating the importance of communication during this crisis. 

 

Driver Safety

70% of KANE’s delivery work is in New York and New Jersey – two of the nation’s current hotspots for the COVID-19 outbreak. Our drivers are going into the teeth of the crisis daily. Most of the facilities they visit have hundreds of drivers coming through every day, increasing the exposure risk.

KANE has made a hard push with consignees to change the freight receiving protocols at facilities, which typically involve drivers entering the facility. To keep drivers in the cab, we proposed to our consignees that drivers simply place the bills of lading on the back of the trailer and then have the consignee sign off and leave the paperwork for us. Not all delivery locations are willing to flex their processes (we’re still working on it!), but taking this low-touch approach on 30–40% of our deliveries has reduced a tremendous amount of driver exposure.

 

Managing Driver Resources

Obviously, we can’t take chances with a driver that is not feeling well. Working through mild illnesses such as a cold or minor cough was the norm.  Today we must assume the worst and pull drivers off duty until they can return with a doctor’s note. KANE has back-up support from other carriers for every lane we run. These back-ups have always been in place, but we revisited the list in preparation for this crisis and added even more virtual partners. Between KANE’s fleet and our established partners, customers can expect reliable freight delivery during this critical time.

 

Redeploying Assets – From Tequila to Toilet Paper

About 16% of our drivers were left without their regular runs when one of our customers ­– a liquor retailer – shuttered its stores. Kane is fortunate to have relationships with various customers that help minimize the impact of events such as this. Our strategic list of customers and carrier partners allows us to quickly respond to any changes in supply chain demand. Because of this, these liquor delivery drivers were fully redeployed to other transportation operations.

One of the places to which they have been redeployed is an existing logistics customer Procter & Gamble.  P&G has a huge paper products facility in Mehoopany, PA.  The plant makes products such as Bounty Paper Towels, Bounty Napkins, Charmin Toilet Paper, and Pampers and Luvs diapers. Demand for toilet paper and other paper products has exploded.  Kane was able to assist with store demand by moving an additional 60 P&G loads over our normal volumes in just a two-week period.

 

Support from Federal Agencies

As we’ve scrambled to adapt to new transportation realities during COVID-19, the government continues to enact changes that assist freight carriers such as:

  • US D.O.T. temporary relief of some hours of service regulations.
  • The Federal Highway Administration lifted restrictions on food trucks operating at highway rest stops
  • The Dept of Homeland Security continues to reinforce the “essential” status of trucking, excluding drivers from the 14-day quarantine regulation after visiting COVID-19 hot spots like NYC
  • The final CARES Act (corona virus aid, relief and economic security) passed and adds critical assistance to small and mid-sized carriers to help them maintain payroll and continue to deliver the essential goods Americans rely on

Thank a Driver Today

Drivers have shown themselves to be true heroes in America’s efforts to keep households supplied with essential items during these very abnormal times. Like many other people trying to get our country through this trying time, drivers deserve a big ‘Thank You’ from all of us.  We need them to know they are appreciated and that we are keenly aware of the new dangers they are facing on our behalf every day. They are truly heroes.

The work of a logistics company has gotten a little harder in the last couple of months – and certainly much more essential. 

 

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Filed under: Supply Chain Challenges| Freight Transportation| Truck Drivers

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