Jarrad Cayzer on COVID-19 and supply chains
I’ve been particularly interested in this series to hear from people in the freight and logistics sector, so I’m pleased to present this interview with Jarrad Cayzer, the Port Optimisation & Logistics Manager at NSW Ports.
What are the main effects or changes due to COVID-19 that you’re seeing right now in supply chains?
Our ports are essential services – open and operating 24/7, handling imports and exports to keep supply chains moving. To cope with COVID-19, processes were implemented at our ports and by the shipping lines early on to protect the safety and wellbeing of port workers and the wider community. Given there is a limited supply of critical port workers and they are specialised roles, it’s important that they are not affected so the protocols have been focused on keeping teams and individuals safe from cross contamination.
Overall, I’d say that our port supply chains are quite resilient and have continued to adapt to the short-term supply chain challenges brought on by the impacts of COVID-19. While we experienced some disruptions, starting with the implementation of COVID-19 quarantine actions in China (which makes up nearly 40% of import freight and 20% of export freight through Port Botany) in late January and delays in receiving goods into Australia, the re-opening of China and resumption of manufacturing and port operations in March has led a return to a more regular pattern of container vessels calling into Port Botany in recent months.
Container ships are arriving regularly at Port Botany, carrying supplies including food, beverages, retail and construction goods and manufactured items.
Bulk liquid imports of petrol, LPG and chemicals have continued to flow with minimal disruption. At Port Kembla, imports of cars, construction materials and other bulk goods continue and our intermodal hubs at Enfield and Cooks River also remain operating normally.
Keeping our ports and supply chains operational is essential to continue the flow of goods to support NSW and Australia. We continue to work together with all parties to ensure the safe operation of these essential services.
What changes would you like to see in the freight and logistics sector when the world rights itself post-pandemic?
As COVID-19 has unfolded, governments at all levels have worked to ensure that the freight and logistics industry was able to serve the community 24/7. For example, temporary measures removing curfew restrictions for freight deliveries were lifted to expedite the stocking of supermarkets, while within our rail networks curfews were lifted to allow freight trains greater access to the passenger rail networks. These measures should be continued in the longer term to deliver community-wide productivity benefits, allowing trucks to supply businesses during evening periods, and freight trains and passenger trains to share the network safely, to alleviate pressures on the road networks during peak hours. This may be especially important during the recovery phase when congestion is exacerbated due to reduced capacity on public transport.
For our ports and intermodal terminals to efficiently service the needs of the nation, there must also be coordinated and timely infrastructure investment throughout the entire supply chain. Having clarity on the pipeline of projects that will assist in securing resilience and growth in our port supply chains, while also providing long-term productivity benefits to the nation, will encourage investment and accelerate the development within the industry.
The continuation of the digitisation of processes within the industry to streamline the flows on data/information throughout the supply chain to replace current inefficient manual processes. Data will play a key role in the future operation of our freight supply chains; it is important that industry and government continue to think about investing in technology that enhances the security and reliability of data within the freight supply chain.
And what changes do you think will happen post-pandemic?
There will likely be a focus from all levels of government on economic stimulus through development of infrastructure, it is important that this focus is not only on building new but also on existing infrastructure and the upgrades or improvement that can be made to them to improve their utilisation and benefit to the freight industry.
Supporting Australian businesses to help them grow domestically and internationally will likely be another focus for all levels of government. There is a great opportunity to work with federal and state government to consider value add prospects for our exports through innovations like incentivising new exports through seed funding to businesses and partnering businesses with government and/or the freight industry.
In this space, the Australian Government has recently set up a great initiative to help Small and Medium Sized export Hubs with funding to help SME exporters get more exposure in international markets allowing them to establish supply chains as well as form new relationships with potential customers.
I would like to think we have all learnt how important our freight supply chains are to our everyday lives and that we all have a greater appreciation for the women and men who work in our freight supply chains to keep Australia’s economy moving.