The renaissance of regional buffer stocks
Contract logistics – the winner when supply chains are disrupted?
Measures against the pandemic have brought excessive demands on 3PLs back into line.
The ongoing disruption in global supply chains caused by the outbreak of Covid-19, and the resulting delays, haven’t caused excessive concern amongst contract logistics operators. Alexander Piwonka, for example, the director of the road division at the Austrian enterprise Ontime Logistics, based in Bergheim, near Salzburg, told the ITJ that “delivery delays in the various sectors have had a positive effect on our business.”
The trend points clearly towards firms building up buffer stocks, as well as shifting value-creation back to Europe. The probable primary aim is to secure production supplies and to avoid delivery bottlenecks occurring at all too short notice. The outbreak of Covid-19 has prompted a shift away from the high demands made of 3PL enterprises. It’s thus likely that a regional trade focus will once again become more prevalent.
Almost all shippers feel the upswing
Supply chains are currently returning to strength again after the initial shock. DB Schenker, for example, has also benefited. Although emerging problems with chip and semi-conductor supplies led to declining sales in the automotive industry, the food,
healthcare, hygiene and high-tech industries continued to develop positively and registered increasing demand, according to DB Schenker spokesperson Fritz Esser. “Strong growth in e-commerce volumes also contributed significantly to improved market conditions for all of us.”
DB Schenker hasn’t registered any great change in the overall outsourcing behaviour of shippers operating worldwide. The contract service provider says that it is deeply integrated into its customers’ overall value chains.
DB Schenker expects further recovery in the global air and sea freight and global contract logistics markets in the second half of 2021, with and growth well above pre-crisis levels. Risks exist, however, from the prolonged duration of disruption to the international supply chain and from the unpredictable further course of the outbreak of Covid-19.
Increased demand at Loxxess too
The report from Christina Thurner, a board member at the German logistics company Loxxess, is that “we’ve experienced increased demand for services as a result of outbreak of Covid-19, for example in the pharmaceutical logistics field as well as in services for online trade.”
Now producers as well as retailers are once again paying much closer attention to the overall robustness of their global supply chains. “We take this as an important sign that the requirements made of our specialised services are becoming more complex and more multidimensional,” Thurner added.
The range and depth of logistics tasks will increase in the future, for example in the pharmaceutical segment. This means that companies will tend to outsource activities to a specialised service provider, which the latter can then integrate into their processes with the digital tools available today, resulting in more value being created.
Thurner remains convinced that overall, demand for professional contract logistics will continue to rise. The flow of goods worldwide is already returning to its old strengths, but it must become more transparent – and remain flexible in the event of a crisis. The good old buffer stocks of yore are once again in great demand, for example, especially for key types of goods as well as medicines and similar products.