It has been over a year of living through COVID-19. At this point, it is pretty evident that the transportation and logistics sector has become one of the primary victims of the unforgiving pandemic.

The rising costs caused by extra safety guidelines put forward by governments the world over, the sudden changes in their processes owing to these safety guidelines, and dwindling businesses were severe concerns for many key players in this sector. The lockdowns in various countries caused heavy supply chain disruptions, affecting international and intra-national logistics, leading to slowdowns in other related industries. Many small trucking companies in the USA were forced to file for bankruptcy in 2020 owing to COVID, as they lacked resources to turn things around or wait for the pandemic out.

The impact was evident in other industries as well – the aviation industry is one such example. Most of the major routes were either thoroughly grounded or reduced to a few hours of operations due to the lack of the required number of passengers to cover the substantial operational costs. As a result, there was a decline in people preferring to travel to international locations, bringing the demand further down.

The work-from-home situation dragged down the number of corporate travelers, which amounted to 75% of airlines’ profits. In addition, there was a decline in people preferring to travel to international locations for personal reasons, bringing the demand further down.

The global freight forwarding market was also among the most brutally hit, with an expected decline by 7.5 percent in 2020, compared with the previous year. The case was similar for various other transportation companies – a good example would be that of the global cab aggregator, Uber, which saw a 50 percent fall in its gross bookings year over year during the pandemic.

However, after a year of living through the pandemic, the outlook is positive, and the world is adapting to the changes caused by it.

How business leaders should navigate the pandemic to ensure resilience

Even though the pandemic disrupted many transport and logistics businesses, many leaders took this as an opportunity to accelerate their digital transformation journey that could catapult their business to new and sustainable levels.

Optimizing Operations

Business leaders must reassess how their businesses operate and focus on optimizing them to reduce any unwanted costs. For example, transportations and logistics companies bear the brunt of working on legacy processes, and opting to re-engineer them would result in high payoffs. For example, a warehousing business could use analytics and location data to plan various shipments to be loaded and unloaded optimally.

Similarly, airlines can use the data of passenger onboarding, baggage tag scans, or other tracking mechanisms to deploy FTEs to handle these passengers optimally, hence controlling the operational costs even further.

Experion enabled an international construction equipment manufacturer to develop a comprehensive Fleet Management System for optimizing mine operations. As a result, the project is set to increase its efficiency and operational costs. You can read the news article here.

Providing Transparency

A business must provide transparency to all its stakeholders to make the business process easy, manageable, and measurable. For example, with every lockdown, there was rising consumer demand for home delivery and thus an increased demand for last-mile delivery services. This highlighted the need for automated, contactless delivery technology. TAs a result, these businesses need to build a digital ecosystem to ensure that their customer engagement levels are high and that transparency is maintained throughout their business processes.

Even in a B2B scenario, logistics companies need to ensure that relevant data is available to their customers to ensure their business isn’t disrupted. This is particularly significant in the wake of increased demand for e-Commerce and enterprises supported by transportation and logistics companies adopting such a transition. As for the internal stakeholders, they are improving the visibility within the supply chain, ensuring that they are ready for any disruption that might happen within the supply chain.

A good example of this would be the comprehensive logistics management platform created by Experion for a global leader in supply chain solutions – you can read the complete success story here.

Harness the power of data

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of leveraging data and analytics solutions to make decisions. While data utilization in transportation and logistics has grown significantly over the past few years, the pandemic has accelerated an urgency to innovate. This led to rising demand for supply chain risk management and real-time monitoring systems during the past year.

With the adoption of multi-modal transportation and technological advancements leading to many different data sources like cameras, GPS, and geo-location, it is a logical step to consider this diverse data ecosystem. This unmatched amount of data can help businesses use advanced data and analytics solutions to enhance operations, reduce costs, and better serve travelers.

Understanding the mobility patterns and transportation and logistics trends early on will give rise to effective risk and disaster management, and those businesses accelerating their digital transformation journeys will reap the benefits in the long term and would be able to tackle any other significant disruptions head-on.

Experion helped an Indian hill-state tackle its road safety challenges by going digital. You can read the complete story here.