Pandemic Planning is Crucial Part of Transport Company's Commitment to Community, Customers and Employees

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The Erb Group contemplates customer service and maintaining mission-critical service in the event of a pandemic. One private company's challenge to create best-practice policy for the unthinkable.

Pandemic preparedness has been a media hotspot lately – but what it means in real terms for a local transportation company is demonstrated by the efforts at the Erb Group of Companies to make sure that any potential crisis can be managed as smoothly as possible for their employees and customers.

As one of the countries largest refrigerated transportation fleets, the Erb Group not only delivers essentials such as fresh and frozen foods but also has many “mission-critical” customers within the medical industry.

A task force for Business Continuity Management (BCM) has been in place at Erb since 2004 but had mainly addressed recovery and prevention for their technological capabilities in the event of computer, communications or power disruptions. However, with the increased threat acknowledged of a potential influenza pandemic, the company directed Erb’s task force to prepare the organization for the challenges this may bring.

There are daunting policy issues that need to be decided when putting together a pandemic plan for a company like Erb. For example, the serious task of sorting freight priority – ensuring that medical support related freight such as: hospital deliveries, medicine and vaccines, blood services, etc., can be maintained. There are also complex issues of how to best ensure that essential food supplies will be delivered. Despite the fact that these plans are theoretical when they are designed, Erb takes these issues very seriously; too many people are dependent on these services to take this for granted.

There is, and will continue to be, significant and conflicting speculation about the potential pandemic. It can be a challenge to filter the facts from the rhetoric, in order to plan responsibly. Various levels of government continue to release information; other useful resources are the many trade organizations that focus more specifically on their particular sector, providing information for their members. For example, the Ontario Trucking Alliance (OTA), representing trucking in Ontario, held a Business Continuity Management seminar on May 3, 2006.

“The OTA event was very useful to our Business Continuity Management planning process” says Vic Thiessen, Vice President of Information Technology at the Erb Group. The seminars provided significant details for preparing for an event like a pandemic, while also highlighting that BCM is not just for pandemics, but is about all aspects of business risk management.”

Wendell Erb, General Manager of the Erb Group of Companies adds: “The daily commitment of our management team is to strive to keep our people on the roads and in our terminals safe, and to provide dependable service to our customers – this makes our business continuity management and pandemic planning crucial – so that we can be assured that we have done everything in our power to fulfill our goals.”

The Erb Group of Companies developed from a one-man company in 1959 to one that currently employs over 1100 employees and 150 owner/operators. Today companies rely on Erb transportation for the delivery of time and temperature-controlled products to over 24,000 consignees. To anticipate and meet our customers’ needs, we offer over 600 power units and 1000 refrigerated trailers.

The Erb Group now includes: the original company, Erb Transport Limited, a less-than-truckload (LTL) and truckload transportation and distribution company; Erb International Inc. a primarily truckload operation covering 48 American states, from our terminals in Canada; Erb Transportation Solutions Inc., offering emergency/expedite/courier services; and Erb Transport Inc. in Elverson, Pennsylvania, a regional truckload carrier serving the mid-Atlantic region of the U.S.

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Patricia Kiral
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