Logistics companies have been on the front lines of the Covid-19 fight since March and they continue to respond to changing business demands as the country reopens.
Supply chain and fleet management provider Ryder System, Inc., is one example, offering what it calls “pop-up warehousing” in response to customers’ shifting inventory and delivery needs over the last three months. Norm Brouillette, vice president and general manager of operations for Ryder Supply Chain Solutions, said the company acted early in the pandemic to provide temporary warehousing solutions to customers saddled with excess product and overstocked items. He said the company was able to provide customers with the temporary “pop-up” storage by using excess space at some of its facilities in California, Texas, and Pennsylvania, in particular.
Brouillette added that those needs continue to evolve, with customers seeking support for anticipated shifts in their supply chains due to sourcing changes and demand fluctuations.
“We’ve had an awful lot of requests [for supply chain support] because customers are worried about what will happen in the future,” he said. “So, we’ve seen requests for pop-up space but also [for services] that will help with changes to the supply chain.”
Some of the biggest changes continue to revolve around surging volume for particular products—consumer packaged goods in the early phases of the pandemic, office supplies and equipment later as companies moved to set employees up to work from home, for instance. The company’s other ongoing efforts include: assisting customers who continue to support demand for delivery of ventilators, personal protection equipment (PPE), and tents for drive-through Covid-19 testing; providing final-mile home deliveries of essential products for consumers who remain under stay-at-home orders; and offering discounts on commercial rental rates to food banks, companies transporting medical supplies, and other customers contributing to Covid-19 relief operations in the U.S. and Canada.
Separately, Texas-based transportation and logistics firm TechTrans said this week it is stepping up to help with the ongoing need for medical supplies and equipment, as well. TechTrans said it will provide supply chain and logistics services for a new ventilator developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The firm will work with Stark Industries, LLC, which is one of eight U.S. manufacturers selected to produce the ventilators.
TechTrans will support Stark Industries as the supply chain partner for the products, including transportation, white-glove delivery, set up, and installation for each unit in medical centers across the United States and Canada.
“This project will help ensure that our nation’s hospitals don’t run out of ventilator capacity should we see spikes in severe Covid-19 cases in the future,” Len Batcha, president of TechTrans, said in a statement Tuesday. “Given our extensive background in comprehensive logistics and field services for complex medical equipment, we were proud to step into this role to support Stark Industries as their exclusive logistics partners.”
Called VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally), the high-pressure ventilator was designed to use one-seventh the parts of a traditional ventilator, relying on parts already available in supply chains. According to JPL, it offers a simpler, more affordable option for treating critical patients while freeing up traditional ventilators for those with the most severe Covid-19 symptoms. In addition, JPL says its flexible design means it also can be modified for use in field hospitals.
For more coverage of the coronavirus crisis and how it's affecting the logistics industry, check out our Covid-19 landing page. And click here for our compilation of virus-focused websites and resource pages from around the supply chain sector.