The positive financial impact of efficiently managing the entire supply chain, from raw materials to the delivery of goods to consumers, is widely known and documented. Removing cost by leveraging operational transparency and data sharing reduces the “bullwhip” effect of inventory throughout the supply chain. This, in turn, reduces product cost and lead time that financially benefits the bottom line of the organizations producing and moving products to the consumer who ultimately buys them.
We are now witnessing the unintended benefits that an efficient supply chain has in supporting the fight against the spread of coronavirus. Reduced product handling or “touches” and final-mile home delivery minimize the physical handling of the product and increases physical distancing by minimizing the need to visit retailers to purchase goods.
The traditional supply chain links many levels of supply together, from the procurement of raw materials to the conversion of those materials into components, subassemblies and finished goods. It then moves through a system of distribution channels that include, national, regional, wholesale and final mile distribution centers and, of course, retail outlets. Even at this 100,000-foot view of the supply chain, it is easy to see how complex the movement of goods are, and the number of times different organizations and people must “touch” these goods before the ultimate consumer takes possession.
E-commerce and final mile home delivery, which are not typically considered traditional, are becoming more and more commonplace. In the best-case scenario, products can move through the distribution side of the supply chain directly from the manufacturer to the consumer, eliminating many complex layers of the traditional supply chain. This not only further reduces cost and lead time to reach the consumer, it also naturally reinforces the guidelines of social distancing and minimizes touching the physical product.
Homeland security and state level “shelter-in-place” orders consistently call out transportation and logistics as an “essential” industry that can operate during the pandemic. Why? Because transportation and logistics is said to be the “engine of an economy.” Without the movement of goods to the point of consumption, there is no economy.
Now that we know how important social distancing and good hygiene is to stop the spread of the coronavirus, employees in this industry will be called upon to perform their jobs under adverse conditions to benefit society as a whole. Regardless of the type of product transported — whether it is medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, food, work-from-home equipment or the everyday needs of the consumer — e-commerce and final mile home delivery leapfrog traditional layers in the supply chain and reduce the need to physically walk into the big box retailer to purchase those products. This service is essential to win the war on coronavirus.
Those that work in this industry are on the frontlines every day and are the unsung heroes during this pandemic. We typically think of UPS, FedEx, USPS or Amazon as the companies in the final-mile delivery industry, but there are thousands of small to mid-sized companies that are doing this work day-in and day-out keeping the economy moving forward.