Over two million people in the world have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus and tens of thousands have died from the disease. These numbers are undoubtedly low given the current lack of testing capability. Although we do not know the extent of the problem, we do know that our world has changed dramatically. Until treatments and vaccines are developed, the virus will continue to impact our lives for years.
Prior to the pandemic, the public expected that goods would magically appear on store shelves. Now that expectation has been replaced with different feelings, such as hope and at times disappointment.
But during these challenging times, the supply chain has reacted well and been fairly strong – grocery stores and pharmacies are receiving the necessities of life and making those products available to the public.
That isn’t to say that the movement of goods has been without hiccups. There have been plenty of challenges that range from finding hotel space for long distance truck drivers and rail crews, to sanitizing counters at your local grocery store or cargo handling equipment at a marine terminal – all in a world of limited disinfectants and personal protective equipment. While we eat in the comfort of our homes, restaurant closures are a genuine problem for those far away from home, moving goods at all hours of the day and night. And social distancing requires that work teams be divided, isolated and work in separate spaces, buildings and perhaps on separate days.
But the supply chain is adapting on a shift by shift basis. Challenges arise, solutions are put forward, adaptation takes place and the consumer knows little of what has happened behind the scenes. We continue to work as a team – only this time it is done separately and remotely.
Just as the COVID-19 virus is growing and spreading, the world of logistics is changing and evolving at an exponential rate. We have to. There are no other options.
What will be interesting to see is if our political system will change and adapt as quickly as the supply chain. Some of our public officials have displayed leadership and compassion. Others have not. Some have recognized the new world order while others are oblivious to the changing world and economic hardship surrounding them.
When so much is at stake, leadership is displayed in many ways – there are heroes and people who display extraordinary dedication to their job. We certainly appreciate and pray for all those heroes – the medical professionals, first responders, research scientists, clergy and others who are working to protect, comfort, cure and bring peace to those impacted by this deadly virus. But there are other people with similar dedication. They aren’t as well known or appreciated by the general public. They work on a dock, drive a truck, unload a plane, navigate a ship, manage a marine terminal, operate a train, deliver food or our prescriptions to our mail box or front door and restock the food in our stores at the risk of infection. Some are paid minimum wage, all to allow the consumer the opportunity to buy food and everyday products that families need.
The next time you are in a grocery store or pharmacy, see a ship along the coast, receive a delivery at home, give a silent thank you to the women and men who make your life easier.