National Logistics Forum formed; 1,500 transport firms under threat in Finland; VW Commercials recommence production 

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This week, a new multi-organisational body was established, encompassing a broad range of stakeholders in the transport, logistics and supply chain sectors. The National Logistics Forum (NLF) includes the participation of the Department of Transport, Trade & Sport, the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation, the Irish Exporters Association , the Freight Transport Association Ireland, the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport, the Irish Road Haulage Association and other interested parties representing sea freight, airfreight, Customs and trade compliance.

According to Patrick Daly, Alba Consulting who is assisting with ongoing activities at the new national body, the objective of the National Logistics Forum is to ensure an integrated approach to the continued free flow of essential goods into, out of and within Ireland during the coronavirus crisis and to formulate strategies and actions in the supply chain to support the future recovery of the Irish economy.

Following the first working meeting of the Forum which took place on 16th April 2020; the Department of Transport, Trade & Sport stated: “In support of ensuring the continued free-flow of essential goods, we would like to thank all those who participated and assisted in the establishment of the National Logistics Forum, the aim of which is to encourage a cooperative approach amongst industry stakeholders, and progress the development of appropriate solutions to Logistics and Transport issues resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.”

Serious consequences for future service capacity of freight transport in Finland

Finnish Transport & Logistics organisation SKAL which represents companies offering road haulage and logistical services in Finland recently undertook a ’state of play’ survey among its membership.

Almost a fifth (18%) of the 828 transport companies which responded to SKAL barometer survey on the effects of the Coronavirus situation estimate that their companies will probably or certainly go bankrupt as a result of COVID-19. In relation to the estimated 9,000 transport companies in Finland, the threat of bankruptcy affects more than 1,500 operators.

The situation is quite exceptional, as since 1990 the number of bankruptcies of transport companies has been at most 200 per year. If the forecasts presented in the survey come true, it will have serious consequences for the service capacity of freight transport.

The crisis with its financial difficulties is also strongly affecting road freight transport. This is a small business-intensive industry that requires large investments in equipment. Transport companies are used to operating on market terms, without the support of society. According to SKAL, however, now is the time when society must ensure the continuation of transport that is vital to Finland by supporting companies.

Half of the transport companies estimate that they are likely to lay off their staff (39%) or certainly (11%) in April-May 2020 due to the interest rate. Layoffs are most strongly targeted (74%) by transport companies with 11-20 drivers. One in six (16%) transport companies are threatened with redundancies.

The electronic survey was conducted for approximately 4,400 SKAL members from March 27 to April 6, 2020.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles to recommence staged production

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ plants in Hannover and in Poland at Poznań and Września are to gradually start production again at reduced capacity levels from Monday 27 April after a shutdown of what will by then be just over five weeks.

The start-up process will be based on the latest availability of parts, the conditions set out by the German Government and the European Union, developments in the sales markets and the operational approach in production that arises from this. Independent of these factors, adherence to extensive measures to protect workers’ health will always be the top priority.

Over the last few weeks, a 100-point plan has been drawn up within the Volkswagen Group designed to enable production to resume while fully taking the protection of workers’ health into account. All measures apply also to outside companies and suppliers working on the factory sites.

As part of the resumption process the company is massively extending the health precaution measures even further based on the recommendations of the health authorities. Processes in production are being optimised, and rigorous minimum distances and increased hygiene standards also apply in all areas. The list of measures includes concrete rules on hygiene and maintaining distances, mandatory shielding of mouth and nose in areas where keeping 1.5 metres apart is not possible, more frequent cleaning, staggering the start and end of shifts in order to avoid contact and encouraging all workers to take their own temperature prior to starting work each day.