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International Forwarding Association Blog » News » 6 Ways in Which the Health Crisis Affected the Shipping Industry

6 Ways in Which the Health Crisis Affected the Shipping Industry

The ongoing health crisis has affected shipping in many ways, from the medical handling of suspect Covid-19 cases and crew repatriation to vessel attendance for statutory purposes and certification and delayed repairs and retrofits.


  1. Handling of Suspect Cases

Medical handling of suspect cases can be a challenge due to shortage of equipment and supplies such as hand gloves, face masks, chlorine, hand sanitizer, sodium lactate solution, and pain and fever medications. Transferring crew ashore has also proven a challenge, given that in many countries crew is not allowed to disembark for treatment.

  1. Crew Changes and Repatriation

The global crisis has led to a situation where crew are either not repatriated or not allowed to disembark. In light of the fact that long sailings increase health and safety risks for crew members, the problem now extends far beyond labor agreements and for many, the current situation is a humanitarian and health issue of significant proportions.

  1. Vessel Attendance for Statutory Purposes and Certification

When it comes to certification, the main problem is the transportation of club and class surveyors, vetting officers, inspectors, superintendents, and other personnel. Scheduling a proper arrangement for inspections, audits, and crew changes can also prove challenging.

  1. Repairs and Shipbuilding

Repair and shipbuilding facilities across the globe have been affected to various degrees by the ongoing pandemic. Some shipyards temporarily closed and resumed operations while others limited their operations to critical activities only. The shipbuilding industry has been especially hard hit due to shortage of workers and materials needed for construction.

  1. Supply Chain Disruption

The Covid-19 pandemic has made managing supply chain risk increasingly difficult. To deal with uncertainty, shipping executives are increasingly restructuring their supply chains to make them more resilient, agile, and flexible. A recent McKinsey survey shows that the overwhelming majority of supply chain executives (92 percent) have undertaken steps to improve resilience.

Last year, most businesses planned to improve resilience by focusing their efforts on both diversifying their supply bases and increasing their inventory of materials, components, and critical products. In reality, most businesses took steps to increase their inventory and underplayed the importance of regionalization, nearshoring, and supply chain diversification.

  1. Warehouse Logistics

The pandemic dramatically affected warehouse logistics and forced manufacturers and shippers to adapt to changing warehousing requirements. Recent research shows that 40 percent of ecommerce businesses experience difficulties due to lockdowns and movement restrictions affecting warehouses. Also, one of the main problems is capacity issues due to labor shortages.

One way for businesses to go about this is to collaborate with third party logistics providers. This can help them overcome capacity constrains and adapt to quickly changing requirements. Third party providers that have multiple warehousing locations can help businesses with risk mitigation and continuity. When transportation shuts down and travel restrictions are set in place, having one location only can negatively affect supply chain operations.