As businesses race to mitigate coming lockdowns and contingencies for the COVID-19 crisis, national road freight provider, Glen Cameron Group, has assembled a Response Management Team (RMT) in recent weeks as it implements rolling safety and preventative measures to ensure the integrity of its logistics operations and supply chain.
Based out of its head office in Melbourne, the Response Management Team oversees communications, incident reporting and management the company said in a statement today.
Glen Cameron Group CEO Nick Capp, who has been closely monitoring the situation for the last three weeks, made the decision for the company. As it supplies hospitals and public utilities and delivers produce and resources to much of Australia it cannot afford to have its network compromised.
To put it simply, truck drivers and road transport teams are the only thing standing between the majority of the country and supply shortages right now.
Being such a decentralised operation, with depots nationwide, makes moving with agility, during a time of pandemic, even more challenging.
Having people all over the country, many of whom needed updates and direction, it became of critical importance according to Capp for the business to interface directly with its workforce.
"We wanted to see what everyone was doing. That meant tracking where everyone is. Finding out who is sick, who might be feeling sick. If their customer had questions to report back in case we could expedite a response," he said.
"If we don't have an immediate answer, then it means working out why and getting them an answer."
With other senior members returning from international trips and in mandatory two week isolation in accordance with new strict company regulations, Capp and his team have tried to be at the forefront of a situation that is fast changing and impossible to predict.
"By being able to see what everyone is doing we at least can determine what we can control," he said. Ït's a judicious approach."
To date company ordinance requires that any ill staff members must receive a medical clearance before going back on site.
All such incidents according to the company are recorded centrally with the RMT and must be submitted and sighted before a person can return to work.
A centralised international travel log which monitors all completed, existing and planned international travel is also in place.
The company has distributed companywide communications on COVID-19 with practical prevention methods as set out by health authorities with all relevant communications being directed to the COVID-19 Response Management Team.
Any escalation will go through the relevant health authority.
A hotline and email address have since been set up. All announcements, updates and contact details will be posted on Cameron’s Intranet homepage and on a dedicated page on the company's website.
"With the rate of coronavirus (COVID-19) incidents in the community increasing, Cameron would like to provide an update on the processes and procedures we have put in place to help protect our employees, the business and the wider community," the company said in an online statement.
"We are conducting formal update calls with all operations and administration sites every 48 hours to share the latest information and developments," the company said.
Erring on the side of caution, however, is a daunting task when demand placed on resources continues to surge.
Glen Cameron Group completes a formal senior management call internally each week plus ad-hoc calls as required to monitor and update the effects of COVID-19 for customers, suppliers and its business in general.
To support and encourage good hygiene practices, the company confirmed it has increased the scope of cleaning of all Cameron sites. Supplying all of its trucks and worksites with hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes to use throughout their shift has proven difficult.
But with stocks so low, the company has had to be creative in finding more while it awaits back orders of products now in short supply.
"Any drivers while out on the road if they come across some sanitiser we've given them an allowance to purchase it. If they have a stockpile at home or they know someone with more than they need we'll subsidise it while we await more to come in. Any way we we can find the stuff and bring it in is in play now. Everyone understands they are part of a greater community."
Under these heightened emergency-like contingencies, Capp has also completed scenario planning for every one of its sites, should a customer test positive for COVID-19 or if one of their own workers does - to create a clear path of action to quickly recover if a site becomes incapacitated while trying to avoid a massive shutdown.
"It's forced us to think about the practices of our customers and to work more in sync with them. We've created a process flow to quickly understand what that is," he says.
"We can't sit back and expect someone else to handle it."
Different scenarios are subject to 24 and 48 hour windows that will require segregation of different sections within the supply chain.
It will be the job of the Response Management Team to convey that knowledge given the situation and especially if one should deteriorate.
Adaptation, at least in Darwinian terms, is one of the best means to survival. Because daily toolbox congregations are prohibited Capp records updates every day and explains what they are doing to customers.
The company is making arrangements, where possible, to limit social interaction.
Meanwhile, medical experts, government officials and data management specialists when referring to the pandemic are often repeating the vernacular of flattening the curve. Glen Cameron Group is trying to get ahead of it.
But as Capp notes things are changing so quickly. Information is being updated constantly. Government announcements are almost hourly.
The RMT is sharing intelligence as it comes to hand. Calls are made to update everyone on proper practices to help with the prevention of spreading the virus and to maintain all of its hygeine and safety practices as best as possible. It's also helping to reduce anxiety among the staff, who Capp observed as being resolute, calm and professional as they have gone about their business.
Unlike many businesses in which employees can work from home and default to a cloud system, Glen Cameron Group is supporting physical assets in the field across different time zones. Where possible Capp said the company is going to stagger staff shifts to limit the amount of staff working together.
"When your model, like ours, is to pick, load and deliver it makes it hard to quarantine everyone. We've got government departments and hospitals waiting on essential supplies and pallets of food going into stores and our team is critical to those activities," said Capp.
"It's a lot of work. The more you think about it, the more layers reveal themselves. You can't control such a fluid environment when the COVID-19 threat changes so constantly."
If health professionals are, in the battle of a global epidemic, akin to the frontline, road freight companies are its cavalry.
(Image: Glen Cameron Group CEO Nick Capp).