The vice president for industry engagement at Conexus Indiana says the response to the pandemic from the state’s logistics sector has been a showcase in what Indiana does best. The state’s advanced manufacturing and logistics initiative has released its State of the Logistics Industry report, Moving Indiana. Bryce Carpenter says the pandemic created two major implications for the logistics industry: an increase in demand and changes in the workforce landscape.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Carpenter said despite the challenges, Indiana’s logistics community stepped up in a big way.
“The IEDC early on needed people to carry critical goods and foods pro bono to regional distribution food banks. Members of the logistics council were able to donate trucks and loads to distribute those goods,” said Carpenter. “It was a very good moment to show how qualified and skilled we are here in Indiana at delivering what’s becoming a more delivery economy.”
Carpenter says logistics companies had to make quick adjustments to their workforce when the pandemic hit.
“Warehousing is about moving goods, a lot of people, maximizing space, cubic inches and then all of a sudden, you’re trying to figure out how to reassess all of that into a social distancing environment; so on the fly, reconfiguring entire operations processes and then the workforce challenges around health concerns, quarantining, contact tracing.”
He adds businesses also had to adjust to operating at peak holiday volumes, which typically lasts about six weeks in November and December, for nine months. What was unexpected, Carpenter says, was workforce availability concerns.
“In the beginning of the stay-at-home guidance period, passenger vehicle traffic was down 40%, freight traffic was up 20%. Trucking as an industry has a higher average age population than most industries, so the demand for trucking, coupled with an average age in the workforce that is at higher risk than the average age of other occupations meant less trucks available. You also had the disconnect between dedicated fleets that were contracted to automotive manufacturing operations that were suddenly shut down for six weeks.”
Carpenter says while many businesses have been able to weather the storm, the logistics industry will have to evolve and adapt with manufacturing, which may adjust its supply chain sources. He says Indiana’s logistics sector will be able to do that.
“Indiana is a key gateway to America’s market, so I think that as companies realize that so much more of their business is going to stay from an e-commerce and final mile delivery structure, Indiana is only going to become more critical to companies throughout the United States to reach a large portion of the economy from a central point.”
You can connect to the full report by clicking here.
Carpenter says despite the challenges, Indiana’s logistics community stepped up in a big way.