May 20, 2020

Best Practices to Build a Resilient Supply Chain During COVID-19

By Mark Petersen, Vice President of Temperature Controlled Transportation, C.H. Robinson

Do you know how your supply chain will recover after the disruption of the COVID-19 health crisis has passed? There are several important steps you can take now to address this concern and be prepared for the future.

Businesses that weather disruption the best take proactive and dynamic approaches to their supply chains. Successful businesses and supply chain leaders engage customers and suppliers early and often. They have open and transparent conversations about the steps they have taken to strengthen their supply chain responses, such as health and safety efforts and forecasting.

Here are four best practices to increase the resiliency of your supply chain:

  • Hold regular supplier meetings: Gather produce, retail, food and beverage, and logistics and transportation suppliers together for reoccurring calls to discuss business continuity efforts and current needs. This is critical to support shippers today. Leverage these meetings and professional resources to create a foundation for the following best practices.
  • Plan for future demand: Determine now what indicators will best inform your demand forecast as product demand returns. Triangulate information such as complementary industries, proxy industries, or economic indicators that can provide demand-related insights earlier. Also, note the product itself. Product destined for foodservice or processing is generally a different grade and specification than what is expected for retail. This will be crucial to planning. When entering produce season, we could potentially see a higher level of demand for product destined for retail consumption. This is likely to be due to the impact of COVID-19 and the redistribution of demand and a higher percentage of consumption occurring in the home.  This will lead to additional imbalances in what product is available to meet the demands of the consumers.
  • Bolster extended supply chain resiliency: Capture insights on supply node dependencies, gaps, and abilities for the extended future. As demand returns, identify the capabilities and limitations of moving into a post COVID-19 environment which impact lead times. Keep in mind that as we see schools and restaurants reopening, it may be in a different way than before, at least for a while.
  • Create long-term transportation strategies: Modal networks are out of their optimized patterns, which means carriers may not be in locations they are used to being in or when they need to be. Pre-planning helps identify potential gaps in coverage. Predict how consumer demand changes could shift full truckload shipments into the LTL market, or vice versa. Temperature-controlled shipments could shift some volume from the LTL space to consolidation due to congestion from undelivered freight. Best in class shippers already leverage a broad portfolio of modes, in an effort to minimize disruption today and to plan for realignment challenges. Shippers should know there are options for freight to seamlessly shift across the modal portfolio.

While the unprecedented daily challenges we face make post-COVID-19 predictions difficult, your business can take critical steps now that will ensure supply chain continuity during this crisis and into the future. C.H. Robinson’s business continuity plans ensure we can continue to operate during (or following) serious incidents or disasters. Our crisis management team has been closely monitoring COVID-19 and is taking steps to ensure the wellness and safety of our employees while we execute remote readiness plans.

As COVID-19 continues to impact supply chains around the globe, we want to ensure our customers and contract carriers are prepared, and that we are able to serve them during this volatile market. In addition, you can rely on our temperature controlled experts with knowledge in key commodities to help you secure the right capacity to move your sensitive freight. To learn more, visit or