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 COVID-19, How Should the Fulfillment Center Respond ? (Part 1)

관리자 2020-11-30 조회수 130



By practicing thorough personal hygiene control

Self-inspection by the company’s established response plan

E&C GLS, CEO, In-Ho Oh


COVID-19 is currently paralyzing a whole society and causing a massive hit in all industries.

While institutions and companies are trying their best for COVID-19 quarantine, logistics companies are doing their best to prevent a spread of pandemics due to many fulfillment centers working side by side in picking, inspection, and packaging work.

On March 3, one of the world’s largest online retail companies, company A, had a spread of COVD-19 infection starting from Seattle HQ employees and A’s 9 fulfillment centers had 10 people being infected by March 25.

Serve measures were taken to protect employees, including disinfection of all facilities, maintaining social distance, and adding distance between drivers and customers in delivery. In addition, delivery stations were temporarily closed for further disinfection and station workers were compensated with full payment while staying at home. Despite these efforts, some personals within A criticized the company for not making enough efforts to prevent infection.

Due to the spread of the virus, many people are forced to lockdown in their homes and need to rely heavily on online retail company’s delivery services. However, the outbreak of COVID-19 within A’s fulfillment center shows a vulnerability of the distribution system and could cause huge havoc for many customers who rely upon A’s services.

Therefore, what should a logistics company do when its HQ or a fulfillment center’s employee gets COVID-19? It will not only cause big damage to the company but also to its customers. This is why a logistics company needs to respond quickly in a COVID-19 emergency.


Government’s instruction and support

For the prevention and non-proliferation of COVID-19, Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency has provided good recommendations and instruction for businesses and workers. Major points are first a company needs to have a response plan in each workplace in order to quarantine potential patients, second, a disinfection procedure should be established whenever a COVID-19 patients’ movements are reported in a workplace, lastly, a backup plan is needed for a company in order to temporarily replace some personnel.


“Strengthen the hygiene of a worker and sanitization of the workplace,

preventing the inflow and spread of infections into the workplace by disinfection.”

Figure 1. South Korea Government's COVID-19 Prevention Guidelines


To support companies’ management difficulties and job security for workers, the government is providing an active employment stabilization measure such as [Simplifying Flex-time Application], [Increasing Employment Subsidy Fund], [Special Support Measures for Regional and Industrial Classification], [Encouraging the Usage of Family Care Vacation], [Temporary Support Relief], and [Expanding Loans for Workers' Living Stabilization]. Also, for a business, to overcome the current crisis, the government is providing many relief efforts such as [Payment and Reduction of Tax Payment], [Stabilization Loans], [Export Assistance], and [Overseas Marketing Supports]

Therefore, logistics companies should also carefully examine the support system and policies in advance in case of a crisis and quickly use the government's support system to overcome the crisis.


Fulfillment center’s effort to prevent infection

COVID-19 infection could happen through a droplet, which is 5-micrometer in size. Also, a droplet with a bigger size than 5-micrometer has a greater risk of infection. Right now the guideline is to maintain a 2m distance from a nearby person due to a droplet from cough might fly over 2m.

Woo-Ju Kim, professor at Korea University Guro Hospital, spoke. “In the natural state, gravity is applied and the nasal mucus falls off in an arc or a u-shape form. Generally, it is recommended to maintain a distance of 2 meters for caution, although it will fly within 1 meter.”

The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that a COVID-19 infected droplet from a cough could stay alive for up to 3 hours. Unfortunately, not only from a droplet, but there are many possible scenarios for COVID-19 infections. For example, contact with an infectious person, surviving 3 to 4 days in guardrails or handles, a droplet without movement survive four hours, 24 hours on cardboard, and 2 to 3 days in a plastics and stainless surface could cause transmission of the virus.

Figure 2. Coughing without a mask brings a very high chance of COVID-19 infection.


Therefore, a fulfillment center has a greater risk of infection due to many field workers within a limited space doing an inspection, picking, and packaging.

If COVID-19 contacted or confirmed personnel works within a center, then all workers must self-isolate at home and facilities must be shut down for disinfection. However, all works within the fulfillment center are done in one facility; therefore, all processes such as product arrival, forwarding, return, stockpiling, packaging, and others also completely halt. Causing a massive snowball effect in the loss of the company’s finance, revenue, trust from business partners, and the rise of customer complaints. (Continue to Part 2)




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출처: E&C GLS, CEO, In-Ho Oh