The second edition of Comex Solutions - an annual event created by Pinho Gestão Logística Internacional to bring together large foreign trade companies - discussed the impacts of the pandemic on logistics in Brazil.
In the 2020 edition, which took place online, Tatiane Vigiarelli, international logistics manager at Ambev, and Cleber Mattar Pereira, planning and logistics manager SA or South America at Valmet, analyzed the legacies of the global crisis for the sector. According to the professionals, technological innovation and "out of the box" thinking are the legacies that the pandemic leaves for logistics in Brazil.
"We realized that in some areas we were very dependent on traditional models. This sparked an alert to rethink the work processes and look for logistical alternatives in order to face complex problems, such as interruptions of flights and ships, low demand at the beginning of the crisis and a significant increase in the second half, lack of raw material, among other issues that were complicated in 2020," said Tatiane Vigiarelli. This year, Ambev saw an increase of about 20% in its packaging imports to supply the high consumption of Brazilian beer in the second half of 2020.
Valmet's Cleber Mattar Pereira analyzes that the pandemic has shown that old solutions were no longer appropriate. "Generally, when we face a problem in business, we push to do what has already been done, but the pandemic has brought something totally new and unpredictable. We had to go back, think, analyze transportation modes, prices, assess what the critical points were and see what the customers' needs were, among many other things we learned as we faced them".
The pandemic surprised the international logistics sector twice in a few months: as of March it overturned expectations of a booming 2020, after a year of strong growth in global trade, and brought about an unthinkable "V recovery" as early as August, along with the prospect of an even better annual performance than the previous year. The scenario hoarding challenged one of the most traditional industries to modernize and digitalize all its processes. For the experts, this will be the great positive legacy of the crisis.
"I usually say we move forward about five years only in 2020. The use of advanced technologies such as virtual reality was almost unthinkable and this year at Valmet we've been checking equipment and doing remote inspections of the same quality and visiting customers without leaving home. This won't replace human contact and interaction, but we've realized that the logistics sector gains much more pace with automation. The digital leap was abrupt and positive," says Mattar.
"When I look at foreign trade and logistics in Brazil, I see that the pandemic broke paradigms so that the sector could advance in digital. The lesson left is that we need initiatives to focus on processes that are more integrated, more agile, and more focused on information security than on reliance on documents," says Vigiarelli.