By Brett Charlton
Coronavirus has been in the headlines for some time now and there is much detail around the impacts on trade.
From a shipping point of view there are considerable challenges current and ahead that need to be navigated.
During the period of the Lunar New Year, volumes are traditionally low regardless and the lines implement “blank sailings” (meaning the lines drop calls to some ports as the volume is not there).
With an extension to the Lunar New Year period, the extension of the blank sailings has also come into effect and therefore there is considerable changes to sailing schedules to accommodate the lower volumes.
Couple this with the Australian Government ruling of international vessels from China having to have been at sea for 14 days and rotations from China have also had to be changed (for example some lines have changed rotation to call Melbourne before Brisbane to spend more time at sea).
Truck drivers in China are in short supply and as such there is a backlog of equipment at China wharves – some lines are charging an US$1000.00 surcharge on refrigerated containers due to there not being any plugs available.
One shipping line has reported that their global documentation centre in Wuhan has lost significant staff numbers from resignations to be with family – so not only is there the issue of getting back to work, replacement of staff will loom large.
We are all hopeful for a swift ending to this situation and our thoughts and prayers go to our colleagues and friends in China, but the ramifications of this event will be felt for some time yet. From a biological virus to an electronic one.
Toll has been struck by a cyber-attack of biblical proportions – imagine losing all electronic communications when you run ships, trucks, aircraft and warehouses etc in 75 countries.
This is exactly what has happened with Toll and whilst there are some positive vibes being given to the market about coming back on line, by all accounts a lot of the processes in place are still manual at the time of writing.
This has echoes of the Maersk cyber-attack in 2017 and is a reminder that our infrastructure is based on electronic communications and without them we are in trouble.