The port closures caused a bottleneck of supplies waiting for both containers to pack and ships to transport them. This has increased the cost of transporting goods. For example, where it used to cost $3,000 to ship a container from southern China to the west coast of the United States, now it can cost $20,000 or more. This will be reflected in the cost that we must pay as consumers.

It has been highlighted that 90% of the products in the world move by ship and that a large part of them come from China. He pointed out that the infections and restrictions imposed by the pandemic affected the workers in the port terminals, “breaking” the chain numerous times.

Focus areas that companies should think about to ensure they have the right solutions to address these challenges include:

• Implement risk mitigation strategies. The pandemic has exposed the weaknesses and risks of a global supply chain. When a furniture factory shuts down in Vietnam, or a shipment of toys gets stuck in a closed port, you need to have a “plan B” for your key products or components. By identifying alternative sources of supply and balancing offshore, quasi-offshore and onshore contract suppliers and manufacturers, you can significantly reduce the risk of disruption.

• Incorporate inventory optimization strategies throughout your enterprise network to establish inventory safeguards at strategic decoupling points and buffer against disruptive events.

• Improve visibility into real demand by taking into account leading indicators, such as sentiment analysis of what’s hot on social media. Early signals about actual sales, as well as how and where they are happening, are also needed.

The support in logistics services that local production requires, Panama maintains growth levels in terms of cargo volumes that are mobilized to and through the national territory. In the case of ports, according to statistics from the Panama Maritime Authority, the Panamanian port system registered 8.6 million TEUS (maritime transport unit of measurement) in 2021, higher than 7.7 million in 2020 and 7.3 million in 2019.

Companies looking for an in-house logistics service, more than just needing staff, require monitoring of measurements with indicators of production and quality of service, as well as controls to protect people and process certifications.

It is known that greater digitization is required to improve processes and that operators must have specific training, so it is important to enhance cognitive skills such as memory, hand-eye coordination, spatial memory, among others, to improve productivity from the workers.

Logistics services, mainly for the preparation processes, order packing and inventories, are increasing by companies seeking this external outsourcing to improve productivity and distribution service, streamlining the supply chain.