The article, “COVID-19 Turning the Tides on the Maritime Shipping Industry,” touches on several interesting points facing global supply chain networks and how the industry needs to change in a post-pandemic world. Insights offered by Victor Restis, Greek shipping magnate and president of Enterprises Shipping & Trading S.A., said the spread of coronavirus affected vessel operations significantly. The article further outlines the fallout and ripple effect across each sector, most significantly is the toll it took on human resources.
We cannot let another virus take control of our economies or lives. As bad as COVID-19 is (5 million cases worldwide and more than 300,000 deaths), it could have been much worse. What if the virus was more contagious? What if it was airborne? What if the death toll was millions? What would have happened if our supply chains were truly crippled? I don’t want to know the answers to these questions, but it is important enough to pose as we think about the risks of future potential threats. I am not an advocate of becoming a “doomsday prepper,” but for what it is worth, they were the most prepared to handle this current crisis. A true breakdown in our supply chain would send our societies back hundreds of years. Hunters and gatherings from then would be the looters and murderers of today—complete chaos.
So, what do we do about it? The article outlines areas that can be strengthened through IoT, automation, diversified manufacturing, and distribution points, among other things. I think we need to bring significant manufacturing jobs back home. This virus has taught us that outsourcing and globalization are too risky to put all your eggs in one basket. We shouldn’t eliminate globalization, just spread it out a bit more, strategically. Create redundancies that can carry the weight if the first line of defense fails. Look for other ways to reduce dependency on other nations. Like a scorned lover, they can turn on you in a second, and while you once held the keys to the kingdom, you are now standing outside alone in the cold.
This virus has given us a lot to think about. It is left no stone unturned while wreaking havoc across the globe. As we reopen our businesses and rebuild economies, we need to turn our attention toward not returning to what we knew before, but we cannot see ahead.