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How is COVID-19 Changing 3PL and Transportation?

Want an in-depth look at how COVID-19 is changing 3PL and transportation around the world? Click here to join us for “Five Minutes in Healthcare” with Philip Jacobus, CEO of DOTmed. 

In this video interview, Philip speaks with Todd Partridge, the VP of Operations for the MoveIt Companies and they discuss the ever-changing landscape of transportation.

Not a fan of video? Read a summary of the interview below.

Q: What’s changing in 3PL?

A: This pandemic has affected everyone differently. Transportation and 3PL have had their challenges, but suddenly everyone is learning about the importance of an efficient supply chain – as well as how fragile and adaptive it can be!

I’ve seen a lot truckers and warehousing companies that have been forced to shift gears. For example, someone that used to haul furniture for us is now hauling hand sanitizer that was made at a distillery for one of our restaurant companies. This pandemic may have unearthed some weaknesses, but it has also revealed our strengths.

Q: Do you have any protocols that you’re requiring the trucking companies you work with to adhere to?

A: This is something that is constantly growing and developing. A lot of it was originally initiated by customer request. Early on, we did some deliveries to NYC when the city was on lockdown. This was long before we had a full grasp on what this pandemic might look like. As an essential entity, we were able to go into the city with supplies, ventilators, masks, stretchers – everything you can think of – and that was the first time we had a request for drivers with masks and gloves.

Since then, we’ve complied PPE requests in most markets. Because transportation is essential, a lot of protocol is initiated by transportation companies because they’re concerned for the safety of their workers. Almost all the hospitals have guidelines in place, and we’ve added a PPE check to all of our calls. “Is there any PPE that’s required?”

There have also been a few instances where a driver has tested positive and has delivered to some locations. We always have to go through and notify those locations that they had an infected driver.

Q: Has the cost of freight changed during the pandemic?

A: Yes, it has really yo-yo’ed. I follow a lot of different modes and industries – from ocean freight, to air freight, to spot pricing rates on truckload, dry truckload, blanket wrap, tankers…

In short: there isn’t really a broad-brush answer for any of those. It really varies by mode and geographic area.

It has been a buyers-market in a lot of places and industries. A lot of trucks are sitting idle. One of my customers does blanket wrap store fixtures, and a lot of the stores actually stopped them from delivering.

At the same time, products are still being manufactured, so the factories have reached out and said, “Hey, can you bring some trucks out? We need them for storage. We’re still manufacturing but our restaurants won’t accept deliveries.”

This has created a ton of backlog. I’m not sure if this will just act like a log jam down the river and burst open or if it’s just going open up slowly, but I would say that in general, rates have declined. I think most people are seeing revenue drops of around 20 to 30 percent in the last two months.

Q: MoveIt was one of the first companies to adopt a software program to track ordering, pickup, etc. How is that working?

A: Our workforce is mostly still working from home. In Iowa, we’re used to blizzards – with a flip of a switch, everyone is online and ready to roll. If there was a silver lining for us, although our business both declined and increased in some markets, we were able to focus on developing some technology-based initiatives for customers – like fine-tuning our mobile app, and a customer dashboard portal for making appointments for delivery.

When we started this business in 1979 there weren’t many computers at all, there was just paper, and I would say that our process is becoming more and more automated. Amazon, in all likelihood, drives it, with both their tools and economy.

We’ve all come to expect that you can take a picture of freight and attach it to the order, or that you can sign from a mobile device. This means that we’ve had to adapt and embrace technology, too.

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