Building Resilience to Brexit-proof supply chains

David Huck

With the end of the Brexit transition period just two months away, developing robust and resilient supply chains will be key to minimise disruptions and allow businesses to take advantages of the opportunities Brexit can bring.

The last 12 months will have been a turning point for many supply chains. With the recent Covid-19 pandemic presenting unprecedented supply chain challenges, heavily impacted by consumer demand, which saw empty supermarket shelves right across the UK.

Throughout the pandemic, ports and their workers kept vital goods including food and medicines flowing around the UK.

Over the last few months, Peel Ports has operated with a clear message that our ports are not just open for business, but are driving forward planned investments to ensure we adapt to the changing and often unexpected needs of supply chains – and this extends to Brexit.

Covid and the Brexit transition have each provided a need for businesses to reassess and redefine their supply chain strategies, building back greener and driving forward greater efficiencies in the transportation of goods.

Forward-thinking operators also understand the importance of building supply chain strategies that are agile and resilient enough to withstand whatever comes their way, including adopting more sustainable practices to reduce CO2 emissions and costs.

At Peel Ports we have been preparing rigorously at all of our ports to ensure we are Brexit ready, including significant investments at our Liverpool, Heysham and Sheerness ports to ensure they have the capacity to accommodate cargo switch routes and modes.

This includes increased throughput capacities for HGV trailers, containers and storage to support smooth operations. We’re also working with our customers to create additional capacity on existing services, as well as introduce new routes, such as our new Spain and Portugal ferry routes with CLdN in Liverpool.

Brexit also brings into focus the UK’s historical over reliance on southern ports and the impact this could have in creating delays in supply chains.

Any potential delay to supply chains not only incurs costs for businesses, but stops the flow of vital goods, such as food and medicines – an issue which was brought sharply into focus during the recent pandemic.

By redefining supply chains to look at proximity to market, businesses could be better off moving their cargo entry point to ports which are closer to the end destination of their goods.

The Port of Liverpool is uniquely positioned to offer this proximity to market, which allows goods to reach their end destination more reliably and with less reliance on increasingly scarce truck drivers. This is a need which has never been more critical considering the changes in demand patterns we’ve seen this year.

A port’s proximity to markets has other indirect benefits, not only acting as a strategic gateway, but as a facilitator of supply chain activity and as a catalyst for reducing carbon emissions of a journey.

Whether it’s full processing, product finalisation or implementation of storage solutions, being close-by means a port can fulfil a wide range of logistics activities, as well as minimise the risk of disruption as a result of transport congestion.

It additionally offers environmental benefits given shipping’s relatively low carbon emissions when measured on a per tonne KM basis.

All businesses will be impacted by the changes Brexit will bring, but the preparations undertaken by UK’s port industry will relieve pressure on traditional routes, increase capacity and introduce new trade routes.

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