The coronavirus epidemic in the Far East will increase pressure among UK businesses to remedy supply chain problems, warned a spokesman for one of the country’s leading storage operators.
Operations director at Bis Henderson Space Steve Purvis said sectors feeling an early impact included pharmaceuticals, for which China supplies many drug precursors as well as almost any industry dependent upon electronic components.
Not only production but also shipping would be affected, he said, with reports of backlogs building on the Yangtze River, air freight from China reduced and ship operators may be unwilling to visit Chinese ports and reducing service to intermediate ports such as Singapore.
Said Purvis: “Industry will be doing what it can to mitigate the risks of disruption. Obviously, it is too late to start stockpiling Chinese goods but businesses will be loading orders on to alternative suppliers. Companies may also be bringing forward orders, even from suppliers in currently unaffected areas, before global prices rise.
He pointed out that a manufacturer whose production is slowed or halted by the absence of perhaps just a single component would nevertheless have other parts coming.
“The supply tap can’t be turned off instantly and these materials will have to be stored, either as they are or as semi-finished goods for completion when normal service is resumed. These goods too will need to be stored and, for parts in shortage or for high-end finished goods, security of storage will also be an issue.”
He added that an end to the epidemic would not be the end of the supply and storage problem, as this could prompt a surge of container movements creating a requirement for additional 'de-stuffing' capacity.
STOP PRESS: Leading bulk liquid storage even StocExpo has opened as scheduled in Rotterdam from 10– 12 March.
Spokesman for the event Mark Rimmer said: “StocExpo has been serving the bulk liquid storage industry for over 15 years, remaining a unique and vital solution for visitors and exhibitors alike. Understandably, we have received many queries regarding the novel coronavirus, and we want to assure our community, we are doing everything we can to keep all attendees safe during their visit. “
The venue, Rotterdam Ahoy, has introduced several pro-active measures to reduce risk, including hand sanitisers throughout the building and cleaning teams performing extra and repetitive cleaning in key areas
Meanwhile, Southern Manufacturing & Electronics 2020's February show at Farnborough International Exhibition witnessed a 9% increase in attendance to set an all-time record. A total of 9,256 visitors attended the three-day show, which is the UK’s longest-running and largest annual industrial technology exhibition.
More than 70% of stand space has already been reserved for the show’s return to Farnborough from 9-11 February.