We know that 2020 has been one of the most challenging and complicated years ever for shippers, carriers, logistics providers, global brands and humanity as a whole. When Covid-19 engulfed Europe back in March, the supply chain and logistics industry was faced with unparalleled levels of disruption.
Closed borders and tightened controls triggered widespread delays, cancellations and re-routings, leaving many businesses with no real idea of what was going on in their supply chains. Demand for food, toilet paper and other essential items spiked as the situation became increasingly confusing and volatile.
We worked tirelessly during this time to tackle this Coronavirus-related congestion, providing real-time data and insights to shed light on the European border situation for thousands of businesses, customers and governments.
Now, with the end of the Brexit transition period nearly upon us, the same issues are once again rearing their heads. Massive disruption to the supply chain and logistics industry across Europe is looming. Recent test runs at the border of Kent in November resulted in 8km long traffic jams, prompting fears of significant transport delays from January 1st. In response, our data shows that several businesses have started to increase their inventories in the UK, building some “safety stock” in an attempt to soften the impact.
So in response to the increasing demand for visibility as Brexit approaches, we’ve updated and enhanced the free interactive map we first launched in the spring to help businesses and government bodies make sense of the approaching disruption. The map provides real-time information on border crossing times to help everyone dealing with international logistics manage the chaos. The new version now also shows average freight connection times for major ports in the UK and mainland Europe, e.g. the end-to-end time goods spend moving from Dover to Calais, including the wait times for on- and off-boarding.
And we’re delighted to say that the map has already been used by some pretty big names to monitor border delays in Europe. These include high-profile brands such as Tesco and Nestlé, shippers such as Zalando, and institutions such as the European Commission and the UK Department for International Trade.
Many have even left us some glowing feedback on how the map has helped them. Sergiy Yablonskiy, Nestle’s transport transformation manager for EMEA, said: “After leveraging the Sixfold border crossing tool that was created to monitor the COVID-19 impact, Nestle is now monitoring congestion on the borders and in the ports related to Brexit preparations to ensure goods are flowing with the least disruption possible.”
We also heard from Christian Bierwirth, director of transportation at Zalando, who said: “Your border traffic status map of Europe is a visibility tool which enables Zalando SE’s supply chain teams to plan transports and connections much better and has had a significantly positive impact on our operation.”
But we’re not just here to blow our own trumpet. At the heart of all this is potentially a very serious issue, particularly as governments race to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to the most vulnerable members of society.
There’s no doubt that Brexit will affect the supply chain over the coming months. What we’re focused on here at Sixfold is how real-time visibility and data insights can help minimise this impact, thereby ensuring that shippers and carriers are able to get vital resources and products to where they need to be.
Businesses will need full transparency into exactly what’s happening across their supply chains so that they are able to react in a fast and informed way. That’s why we created the map in the first place and made it free-to-use to help everyone in the industry. Real-time visibility can help them become more flexible and resilient in times of uncertainty, both of which will be vital to weathering the Brexit storm and managing the headaches that will undoubtedly come their way in 2021.