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David Maloney: 0:03
Covid-19 continues to disrupt global supply chains. Logistic workers find that they're on the front lines fighting a new kind of war. And companies emerge to provide new capabilities for a stay-at-home work forces. Pull up a chair and join us as the editors of DC Velocity discuss these stories, as well as news and supply chain trends, on this week's Logistics Matters podcast. Hi, I'm Dave Maloney. I'm the editorial director of DC Velocity. Welcome. Joining me to provide their insight into the top stories of this week are senior news editor Ben Ames, and senior editor Victoria Kickham. Victoria, just to start with, of course, the story that's dominated the headlines for the past several weeks not only in supply chain, but everywhere, is Covid-19. And you've reported in this past week about how logistics workers are finding themselves on the front lines of this new kind of war.
Victoria Kickham: 0:55
Yes, in my talks with logistics companies from across the spectrum, we're finding that they're facing the challenges of making their employees feel comfortable coming to work, by safety protocols and communicating the most up-to-date information on the virus--while at the same time, keeping their businesses running. This is most acute, it seems, for 3PLs, transportation companies serving customers in essential industries like food service, health care, medical, those kinds of industries.
David Maloney: 1:25
What sort of ways are they helping them to feel comfortable when they're being faced with what everybody is dealing with these days?
Victoria Kickham: 1:34
One company I talked to said they're spending 16 hours a day on this. I talked to a senior human resources representative, and she was saying, just communicating over and over again, reminding employees, why they're coming to work every day. The importance of getting is essential services--products and services--to hospitals, medical facilities, grocery stores And at the same time, reminding them what they need to do. They've put into place all kinds of deep-cleaning regimens, social distancing. In some cases, they've had to retool their work stations so workers are no longer two or three feet apart. They're six feet apart. Just really revisiting all of those things and reminding employees what they need to do and why they're doing it.
David Maloney: 2:21
Yeah. And then we've also seen sort of the first casualties that are--on the workers on the front lines. You reported on that as well [Ben].
Ben Ames: 2:30
I did. Yeah. Just today there was a story in the Wall Street Journal that the U. S. Postal Service has lost a dozen of its workers as casualties, as deaths from Covid-19, so far. And that follows news the previous week of a couple of workers in logistics jobs who had passed away from Covid-19 . One of them was at a military depot in Pennsylvania. And then there was also four additional workers who had been at grocery stores, which is a place where even those of us are sheltering at home have seen that they're workers in really visible jobs, right there among the crowds every day.
David Maloney: 3:14
And certainly I think people are even more aware of supply chain than ever before as they realize the importance supply chain plays on an everyday basis, let alone in the midst of a crisis. Ben, you also talked about some new companies that are beginning to emerge with ways to be able to serve an at-home work force. Can you tell us about that?
Ben Ames: 3:34
Yes, that's right. The Covid has really sort of upended some of the typical patterns in warehousing and delivery and transportation. We've seen the federal FMCSA regulators suspend their hours-of-service limits for truck drivers carrying certain loads, so that there's some real spikes out there in the amount of deliveries and the time the truckers are spending on the roads. And one of the impacts of that, you know, venture capital keeps on going. And there was a $30 million round, it was raised for a startup company called Bringg, which is spelled like it sounds, but with two G's on the end. What Bringg does, they have a software platform that lets users orchestrate and oversee the whole delivery chain, whether it's their own in-house fleets, whether using third party delivery providers, a combination, whatever it is. So it really helps the visibility over that complicated process.
David Maloney: 4:41
Very good. Victoria, the Logistics Manager's Index is also reflecting our new normal. Can you tell us about what that Index is all about and what it's saying right now?
Victoria Kickham: 4:52
Sure. The Logistics Manager's Index is a monthly report that comes out, it surveys professionals across the logistics and supply chain, and it had been trending down for the last couple of years. Still growing--I should say, still indicating growth in the sector, but trending down and sort of showing that the industry had settled into kind of a slow growth mode. But in March, activity really, really picked up and increased, just as you'd expect, because of the growing need for transportation and warehousing. So, really we'll know, what happens in April will tell us a lot. And at the same time, we noticed that earlier this month you know, shipments--or cargo, I should say--through some of the nation's ports were down drastically, so that paints a different picture. So the LMI folks and others a really kind of waiting to see how this plays out in April, to see what happens.
David Maloney: 5:49
Then we'll report on that at that time. Ben, we've also got on our website to some great Covid-related resources. Can you tell us about what's available there?
Ben Ames: 5:59
We have, yeah. There's companies that have been, you know, so affected by this--as Victoria was saying, throughout the logistics sector--that some of them have compiled really incredibly helpful amounts of information to help their partner companies and their clients navigate this strange new world. So, as we've come across those in our reporting and in our speaking with industry figures, we've collected them all on a single resource page, so anybody can come and see how Covid is affecting the logistics sector specifically. I can give an example of one of those.
David Maloney: 6:35
Ben Ames: 6:37
So that there's a group called MHEDA, which listeners may be familiar with. They're the Material Handling Equipment Distributors Association. And MHEDA has a landing page full of Covid-19 resources and advice for anybody in the industry, and five points on that page that people can help determine who is an essential business, in terms of that classification, to keep on operating. It summarizes the various stay-at-home orders in different states. It gives guidance on how to manage the workplace during the crisis, which again, that would touch on some of Victoria's reporting. It gives members news updates on status of operations. For instance, we've seen some ports, maritime ports, revert to weekend hours, and we've seen some grocery stores have restricted hours so they could have cleaning. And then lastly, it gives a calendar of webinars. Because all of this, as soon as we've learned what's new in Covid, it seems to change the next day. So it's more important than ever to stay informed
David Maloney: 7:47
And so on that resources page at DCVelocity.com, we have links to where other people have placed resources, and those are available. We also have a very special section, too. In fact, a header as you come on to the website, where you can go directly and see the latest in the coronavirus coverage. So that's it for this week. For more information on the stories that we discussed in Logistics Matters, be sure to check out DCVelocity.com for details. Thanks, Ben and Victoria, and thank you all for listening. We'll see you next week on Logistics Matters.