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Shipping Challenges During COVID-19

Ship Yard

Life has changed almost unrecognizably for most people over the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As more people are forced to remain indoors for extended periods, meeting requirements for daily necessities such as food, medical needs, and leisure activities has remained a challenge needing a dynamic response from global systems.

The shipping industry has had to remain flexible to meet this new set of challenges that the pandemic has brought to light. Let’s look at some of the trends the shipping industry has had to keep up with over the past 12 months.

Keeping Fleets Up-to-Date

Now, more than ever, keeping your fleet up-to-date with all current parts is more important than ever – no matter what your business model. Maintaining a robust supply of parts is now a necessity as delays in supply chains could spell disaster for your business and the consumers who rely on your goods and services. If you’re in agriculture, make sure you have all the newest Costex Tractor Parts on hand to keep you free from any potential hazards in the case of a shortage in your area.

Disruption to Maritime Networks

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the extent of the interdependence of nations in terms of the trade of goods and services. Shipping, in many ways, has been recognized as the backbone of our globalized economy. Yet, global maritime trade fell by 4.1% in 2020.

Supply chain disruptions have forced contractions amidst uncertainty in the global economy. A twin increase in demand and extra difficulties in supply chains has proven to be a double-edged sword for both suppliers and consumers.

Container ship                                                   Photo by: Andrey Sharpilo on Unsplash

Increase in Demand

Supply along East-West trade lanes has vastly exceeded anything seen in the previous 10 years, mainly due to increased demand in the United States. This has, in turn, caused increases in supply and blank sailings. These blank sailings are due largely to congestion in U.S. ports on the West Coast, meaning that ships have been unable to make it back to Asia in time for their next load, necessitating further loaders to take their place, often sailing with empty ships.

Almost 40% of the increase in goods ordered between September and November 2020 have been home and furniture goods. This is most likely due to the increased amounts of people being forced to adapt to this global climate and work from home for the foreseeable future.

Shipping Essential Medical Supplies

The advent of the vaccine for COVID-19 provides a light at the end of the tunnel for the pandemic. However, vaccination can only succeed if the logistical complications of shipping the vaccines can be met. Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and the Moderna vaccine need cold storage to remain viable. The former needs to be kept at -80°C, while the latter needs to be stored at a temperature of -20°C. This provides a unique set of challenges for the shipping industry that have to be met in order to put an end to the crisis.

The Bottom Line

The past 12 months have been difficult for the whole world and the shipping industry is no exception. With more and more people being stuck at home, supply and demand chains have increased to unprecedented levels, causing the shipping industry to have to adapt to the new circumstances the pandemic has provided.

Now more than ever, our reliance on global supply chains has become more apparent and it looks like it’s going to remain so for the foreseeable future as well.


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