It would be a brave person to predict the extent of the second-wave of COVID-19 we’re experiencing right now. But if you’re importing from outside the EU it’s probably fair to say that “business-as-usual” is still a long way off with increasing delays and costs to shipping ahead.
Ports across Europe are having to constantly adapt to cope with new challenges: the need to close a few hours a day for deep cleaning, a shortage of container haulage drivers, and more empty containers (resulting in extra tariffs) are just three.
And while it’s tempting to see Brexit as a UK problem, ports across Europe are likely to come under further strain come January 1st with knock-on effects across the continent.
With all this going on it would be easy to become pessimistic. But as a business that manufactures in both the mainland Europe and the UK, we remain positive, knowing we can continue to serve our customers in both markets, largely unaffected by whatever’s delaying ocean-going containers.
And, as part of an international organisation, we have a wide-angle view on many of the challenges for global procurement and what we can do to meet them…
Forewarned is forearmed
We have the experience of working with many of the leading shipping agents and they can be a valuable source of information, providing regular updates and topical advice. Expect to see phrases like “unprecedented operational issues” and the message comes across loud and clear that we can expect things to get even more challenging. Our view is that all information is good – we often use it to plan ahead and understand where the pain points might be (and how best to avoid them).
It’s likely that most businesses have carried out a COVID-19 risk assessment to plan for a return to offices and factories. But it’s a good idea to extend that out across all your business activities – especially if you’re importing from overseas. It’s true that there are still many unknowns, but it really does help to concentrate the mind and identify where you can focus your efforts. We are constantly updating our plans and we’d be happy to share how we’ve approached this and what we’ve learnt.
We all hope for a quick return to normality, but it’s clear there are things you can do right now to maintain continuity of supply and we will always be happy to help where we can.
Please get in touch if you need advice or guidance.
We wish all our customers well in these difficult times and we are determined to keep looking to the future with optimism!