Things are developing quickly. A quick timeline: on 27 February, the first infection was reported in the Netherlands and numbers increased ‘slowly’ for a few days after that. On 9 March, the authorities came up with hygiene measures and we started hoarding. By 11 March, there were already more than 500 cases. On 12 March the call went out for everyone to stay at home and work from there. On 15 March, the milestone of 1000 Covid-19 deaths was passed. The same day, it was announced that the Netherlands would go into lockdown. On 16 March, we all listened to a statement by the Dutch Prime Minister; months later, we were all still in the same situation. The impact was not only on public health but also on all sectors of the economy, including transport and logistics.
The general picture is that the world of transport is currently a booming business. Partly true, but not for most. Online consumer orders exploded mid-March, so badly that the parcel deliverers of PostNL threatened legal steps. Transporters who work for supermarkets are also extremely busy, as are hospital equipment suppliers – that goes without saying. It's great if you can cope with that pressure, but it's a problem if you can’t. Particularly so if the staff already have a permanent sense of being undervalued, as at PostNL.
But it is better to be busy than to have nothing to do. Couriers who work for the catering sector and company offices and other transport companies that depend on ‘contact professions’ are being badly affected: if orders aren't being placed, you can't transport them. Although the furlough scheme lets you ask for emergency employment protection assistance, you’d prefer to get back to doing your work the way you intended.
An article appeared on logistiek.nl that all transport companies ought to read. Machiel Bode, a transport and logistics sector banker at ING, has two tips: keep a close eye on your efficiency and charge your costs through properly.
In concrete terms, that means that transport companies are seeing revenues fall due to a liquidity shortfall and that those who are now hugely busy are not applying the right cost prices. Mr Bode was talking about the period shortly before the financial crisis of 2008. Companies ordered lots of trucks to cope with the demand and everyone worked very hard – but applying the wrong prices meant they didn't earn very much. So watch out for that.
That's an interesting one. Some don't have enough capacity and others have too much. What can you do about it, in concrete terms? Various sector organizations such as Transport en Logistiek Nederland (TLN), VVT, FNV Transport & Logistiek, CNV Vakmensen, evofenedex, Sectorinstituut Transport en Logistiek (STL) and SOOB (the training fund for the sector) have joined forces to create the mobility centre.
The mobility centre can help bring supply and demand together for both employees and equipment. Some transport companies have excess capacity and others a shortfall – and that can be solved relatively easily by matching up supply to demand.
You can register on this website. We recommend strongly that you do so, because that will let us make sure together that the sector doesn't collapse completely.