Can the global network of shipping goods and products survive a second wave of COVID-19? What about the emergence of a new virus? An article featuring Victor Restis published in Business Matters magazine seems to think so. Mr. Restis – who is president of one of Greece’s largest container shipping companies – provides some insight to the challenges caused by the pandemic, the immediate steps that were taken to prop up a very important system with a million moving parts, and describes a few steps that must be taken to mitigate future disruptions. The human resources involved in the global trade market is astounding and the logistics involved in ensuring seamless handling and delivery of cargo is impressive. When I think about the complexity of logistics for companies like Amazon, UPS or FedEx it really makes you think how something so organized and strong could bear witness to vulnerability in the face of a global pandemic.
Fortunately, as Mr. Restis points out, gaps in the system were quickly filled and even though we experienced scarcity in products, the methods of distributing those products maintained an operational level of integrity even if production was limited. Supply and demand are a fickle creature and we now have a better understanding of where vulnerabilities exist. What I gather from reading this article, those in charge are starting to take notice of those vulnerabilities and are starting to have conversations about how to address them. There are many tools available to upgrade these complex networks of business and exchange, with many companies already making great technological strides. The shipping industry, with leaders like Mr. Restis, are among those that are looking at innovative ways to strengthen processes, create safe work environments and keep the transoceanic shipping lanes clear of pitfalls and further tragedies to the global economies.
One area of collateral concern that I never thought of, but highlighted in this article, was the risk of loss prevention. Imagine all that loot sitting in an unattended warehouse because of stay at home orders. It is just sitting there for the taking. It is unfortunate that we have to think of these things, but the threat of theft is real. Fortunately, it seems that leaders like Mr. Restis made critical decisions to adapt to the threats spawned by the global pandemic. The main takeaway is that container shipping of both dry and wet goods is a vital industry that has earned our recognition and respect. As we emerge from this pandemic my hope is that the industry is able to pave new pathways to ensure it never falters in the face of future, global events such as this pandemic.