How the Dutch Ensure Supply Chains through a Pandemic
Seaports, airports and highways remain uninterrupted, keeping the supply chain in the Netherlands up and running
While countries around the world are being hit by the novel Coronavirus, supply chains are being stressed as consumers demand more online retail items, grocery stores struggle to keep shelves stocked and hospitals become increasingly in need of healthcare supplies. While the Dutch government has implemented new safety measures starting on March 23 to the general public, it has also made certain that the supply chain in the Netherlands will remain in operation under any circumstances – including air and sea freight chains, highway transport as well as food and medical supply chains.
As the Netherlands continues to be both a gateway to Europe and a hub for foreign-owned logistics and distribution operations, keeping logistics and supply chains running despite a global pandemic is essential to both the Dutch people and those outside of the Netherlands. Food, medical supplies, and more can reach 170 consumers within 24 hours from Amsterdam or Rotterdam making an uninterrupted supply chain not only necessary under ordinary circumstances but even more so with the heightened demand as countries around the world rise to fight the novel Coronavirus.
From seaports to airports
Given the steady spread of COVID-19, shipping continues in spite of increased transit times. While so much business around the country (and world) has been put on pause for many sectors, seaports continue to remain fully functioning. Furthermore, it has been reported that roughly the same number of sea-going and inland vessels have been entering and exiting the Port of Rotterdam proving that it has not been “business unusual” as so many other companies tout these days. While ships are now required to submit a Maritime Declaration of Health prior to entering the port, reported illness among the pilots, linesmen and related port employees remain at normal (pre-novel Corona virus) levels. As port calls in Rotterdam remain largely unaffected, additional safety measurements, like the declarations of health, ensure that distribution as a whole continues to be fully operational.
While commercial travel has slowed as social distancing and sheltering in place orders have been made around the world, airports have been deemed essential to remain open. Air cargo handling has been recognized as a vital part of the supply chain as a whole and should any part of the chain be interrupted, consumer shortages would develop and both inbound and outbound congestion would occur.
According to Nieuwsblad Transport, both Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and Maastricht Aachen Airport have seen an increase of movement and more specifically, slot requests. While Schiphol saw 260 weekly cargo services in February, reports have been made that number rose to 360 weekly cargo services with the increased response to COVID-19.
In order to support the additional traffic, Schiphol is posting freighter arrival and departure time online, much like a commercial airline notifies passengers of possible changes to a flight schedule. Airlines seeing a shortage in passengers are using planes for cargo and Qatar Airways announced an additional 25 weekly services to the Netherlands.
Highways, border crossings, and the new ‘Green Lanes’ policy
As transparency has been added to the cargo air departures and arrivals, additional measures have been taken to communicate the amount of traffic on the road. An interactive map has been created to track truck border crossing times and border management measures have been implemented to ensure both the timely delivery of goods and the safety of all essential drivers. The European Commission instructed all EU internal borders remain open and established ‘Green Lanes’ for incoming and outgoing trucks carrying any type of goods. These lanes have been made with the intention to speed up the screening of both freight and the health of drivers at the border. While wait times saw an increase as travel restrictions went into place at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, the ‘Green Lanes’ mandate that it will now take less than 15 minutes to inspect drivers and goods in order for food and medical supplies (as well as non-essential items) to be delivered without delay.
Despite the March 31st announcement that measures within the Netherlands to combat coronavirus will be extended until April 28, the supply chain will remain in full operation. As airports, seaports and highways continue to function almost seamlessly, safety policies have also been implemented throughout third party logistics companies to further safeguard the distribution network.
Our Invest in Holland partner Holland International Distribution Council continues to provide brief updates on the current situation and is available for questions regarding Dutch airports, seaports, borders and logistics operations. For any additional support in this uncertain time, contact us for further information.20 April 2020