With some businesses temporarily closed and others pushed to their limit to maintain operational supply chain demand, responding to this crisis has imposed tremendous pressure on the fleets that are fortunate enough to have surging demand to keep store shelves stocked, and maintain critical infrastructure and services during these unprecedented times.

One of the key activities which is simple but crucial to supply chain management is to ensure a shared vehicle is maintained in a clean and hygienic condition and the handover process is completed in a risk free way to safeguard products and minimise the risk of transmitting the virus to other users (including both other users of the vehicle and at customer sites) through surface transfer.

Below are some key considerations for businesses to minimise the risks:

  1. Staff training: In addition to the new challenges impacting potential disruption to the supply chains, staff absenteeism and an influx of new temporary workers is affecting every sector of the logistics industry. Ensure that your site and any staffing providers (e.g. employment agencies) follow defined guidelines for fitness to work (e.g. health questionnaires, illness reporting, etc). If vehicle drivers are new, ensure that training has incorporated specifics relating to product safety (e.g. temperature control). Contact details for key contacts and customers may also be useful.


  1. Goods in/Goods Out Procedures: As part of social distancing it may be necessary to change the way employees, raw materials and products move around the site. These need to be defined and communicated to all relevant staff and visitors. For example, assess and define any special handling for inbound freight, vehicle or product inspections (e.g. sanitizing packaging and pallets).


  1. Digitalisation of routine processes: Routine procedures like gate check-ins and paperwork signing can move to a contact less system. Real-time transportation visibility platforms can provide updates to site when the vehicle is close to making a delivery, so staff can be prepared with protective gear and be in place to offload and transfer goods.


  1. Communication pack: Considering a number of staff may be new, introduce signage in the vehicle to communicate the cleaning measures and any amended procedures or additional actions to be completed by drivers and loaders when loading and off-loading or at hand over. 


  1. Limiting access to the facility: Social distancing is a challenge for all essential workers, including truck drivers and employees at pickup and delivery locations, such as storage and warehouses or customer’s sites. Many sites (including customers) are restricting access during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, vehicles will still need to deliver and collect. It is useful for the site security (where present) to have a list of visitors and subcontract service providers which are permitted access to the site. The site rules and requirements must be available and communicated (e.g. at the site entrance) and this should include any health declarations which may have been introduced. It may for example, be appropriate to meet drivers and other non-essential visitors in the yard instead of having them come into the facility or office. It should be remembered that there are potentially 2 different scenarios that need to be managed: 


    • Experienced drivers who may be familiar with the site they are visiting, and normally enter, greet key contacts, assist with loading/unloading, and may need to enter other parts of the site (e.g. to use canteens or restrooms).
    • New and therefore inexperienced drivers who may have limited knowledge of normal site procedures.


  1. Pre-Start up checks: At the start of every working day, implement new daily disinfecting procedures to sanitise the vehicles. Ensure that all surfaces that will be touched are cleaned frequently. Use detergent or soap and water and be sure they are dry prior to disinfection. Example surfaces include:


      • Dashboard
      • Steering wheel
      • Selectors and control buttons
      • Radio, GPS screen
      • Rear mirror
      • Gear shifter
      • Handbrake
      • Inside doors including glass lift, handle
      • Interior windows
      • Outdoor handles
      • Mobile phone
      • Vehicle keys
      • Pens, logbook
      • Seat belt and buckle


  1. Vehicle Handover: Vehicles used across multiple shifts for delivery or collection may need to leave the facility and visit other locations. There is an obvious need to have an amended handover process that includes additional sanitisation steps. In addition to regular handover items (e.g. logbooks, vehicle keys, shift mobiles they may need to have gloves, sanitizers, wipes and other items to wipe regularly used surfaces to minimise the risk of spreading the infection). Only essential tools and equipment required for the journey (e.g pallet trucks and load securing equipment) must be carried on the vehicle to minimise the risk of cross contact. The additional items must be considered and included within the new cleaning regime.


  1. Vehicle exterior: On the outside, clean all handles and doors especially in those areas likely to be touched (when slamming shut, etc). Also, pay close attention to the fuel flap and filler.