Vehicle manufacturers, technology vendors and software companies working in connection with energy logistics make radically different assessments of the effects of Corona. However, one thing is clear in all areas: the pandemic has above all changed market expectations and the consistently positive forecasts at the beginning of the year have been overshadowed by increasing uncertainties.
In contrast to other sectors – such as event organisers or the catering trade – companies operating in and around the logistics area have been and still are less affected by Corona. Transports are still required and the heating oil trade for instance experienced a special trend owing to a sharp fall in oil prices.
With appropriate hygiene strategies, codes of conduct and changes in the work structure, the companies responded swiftly and effectively to the risks of infection. Employees’ and customers’ health were a top priority everywhere.
Demand witnessed different trends. The very good volume of orders that prevailed at the beginning of the year helped to a large extent to overcome various bottlenecks. It was possible to avoid a direct drop in sales. Short-time working solutions were widely not employed.
Hardly any slump in demand for heating oil and diesel delivery vehicles occurred. In some cases, even an increase was reported. Only a few individual orders were cancelled or deliveries slightly postponed on request by the customers. Special vehicles for wood pellets for example experienced a veritable boom.
Things looked different for exports and for the airfield fuelling sector. A limited willingness to invest worldwide – probably also due to uncertain markets – caused declines in foreign business of up to 25 percent for some companies.
Depending on the company, the export share in the vehicle sector is between 20 and 50 percent. The spectrum of forecasts for the coming months is also correspondingly wide.
Following very stable business in 2019, the negative effects of the order backlog during the first half of 2020 were kept within reasonable limits. In view of the second wave of the pandemic, which has reached the whole of Europe and many countries around the world in autumn, business expectations are unlikely to improve – even if there are no complete lockdowns again.
The companies’ estimations diverge when it comes to the subject of “supply chains”: the spectrum ranges from “no significant delivery bottlenecks and only partial postponements” to “sluggish supply chains owing to four-week production shutdowns”. The result: rescheduling of production processes, delays and extra costs.
The greatest challenges therefore arose in conjunction with the chassis manufacturers. Moreover, a whole series of uncertainties apparently still remain in connection with Corona. After initially unforeseeable difficulties, however, the companies are now increasingly able to more readily cope with the situation. The stock of material was for example increased in order to counteract any bottlenecks.
The companies’ forecasts for 2021 are still fraught with many questions. Although in some cases the order backlog extends into 2021, the background conditions remain uncertain. It is therefore a matter of strict cost control and keeping an eye on liquidity.
All in all however, there is cautious optimism that the situation will return to normal over the coming year.
© Shutterstock_342125024; © Shutterstock_744643549