Shipping Traceability in Keeping Dock Staff Safe | Grocers Look for More Guidance

Shipping Traceability For Keeping Dock Staff Safe

Grocers are concerned over the state of shipping traceability, and those concerns are pronounced amid the COVID-19 pandemic. To stay informed, grocers need to understand a few things about the value of shipping traceability and how it can help with dock scheduling and overall management in keeping staff safe.

The Risks of Poor Shipping Traceability

Whenever poor shipping traceability is involved, there has always been a greater risk for foodborne illness. , Unfortunately, those risks only grew amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the question of whether workers are or are not considered essential. As reported by a recent New York Times article, grocer dock workers that may have been exposed to COVID-19 were advised to continue working as essential workers. Meanwhile, the issue of food traceability remains. According to James Curtis of Food Logistics:

“The cost of not adopting systems for tracking chain of custody is easy to see: for example, the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in 2018, which was tied to the consumption of romaine lettuce, and the 66 percent increase in meat and poultry recalls from 2013 to 2018 as reported by U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).
The inability to proactively resolve problems as they arise has caused a lack of trust across U.S. consumers that is hard to rebuild, according to the FDA’s October 21st meeting “A New Era of Smarter Food Safety.” For example, the romaine lettuce outbreak resulted in 2018 sales plummeting by more than $136 billion versus 2017, and the implications are still being felt this year.”

Improved Traceability Improves Dock Staff Safety and Reduces Risk to Consumers

Increased shipping traceability is typically used to focus on the food itself, but in the current environment, there is an additional need for traceability of supply chain contact points. As businesses have very quickly needed to adapt to new safety and cleaning standards, many have struggled with putting stringent processes in place for the safety of their employees and customers. Of course, supply chain safety is not necessarily a new concept. As further explained by Curtis, “to address this lack of visibility, the food services industry began instituting chain-of-custody solutions to identify the path a product takes from the first stage in the supply chain right down to the restaurant [or grocer].” However, improved traceability now offers the advantage of tracking truckers and supply chain party movements to help reduce risk of illness spread among your staff/ And for grocers selling food and beverages, those concerns naturally translate into a better, safer way to manage employees and keep the public’s health in mind.

How to Increase Shipping Traceability

There is not a one size fits all approach to preventing the spread of illness, but the same technologies that work to protect against foodborne illness and track its possible spread also work well with improving dock management. In fact, shippers should consider following these tips to improve shipping traceability:
  1. Consider the use of blockchain to track foods from farm to table.
  2. Use technologies to digitize the paperwork and minimize interactions between drivers and dock staff.
  3. Leverage automation to reduce the time spent unloading and loading trucks.
    1. Centralize data storage within a cloud-based TMS.
  4. Use connected systems and real-time data to better manage the dock schedule.
  5. Reduce the risk of congestion with improved yard management to reduce contact between internal and external staff.
  6. Encourage social distancing by using the right equipment and the right number of laborers for each activity.
  7. Share all data regarding activity and scheduling with all supply chain partners to create a more cohesive “heat-map” of safety improvements within your supply chain.

Improve Shipping Traceability With the Right Supply Chain Systems Partner

Few topics carry more importance than the issue of supply chain professionals’ safety in 2020. Processes and safety measures are under the microscope, and the ability to trace all workers and shipments throughout the supply chain is more important than ever. Know the facts surrounding dock staff safety and shipping traceability. Also, explore how your organization can improve safety on the dock with better shipping traceability.

Request a demo of the MercuryGate transportation management platform.

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