Across the world, industry has made dynamic changes to overcome challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has brought to the fore, and ports are no exception.

Portico contributed to the Tonight programme, to be broadcast on ITV 1 at 7.30pm on 23 April, which looks at food supply chains and challenges faced by the industry.

Steve Williams, operations director at Portico, takes a look back at how he and his team have responded to ensure essential freight keeps moving.

Ports are vital part in making sure goods head to where they’re needed. As one of the UK’s largest global fresh produce terminals, our role is even more critical, so that shelves around the country stay stocked.

We’ve seen thousands of pallets of bananas, melons and other produce moving regularly through our facility. Our customs agency have been working hard to get goods cleared quickly, and the lifeline container service to the Channel Islands has continued to operate.

It’s not just fresh produce we need to keep moving. Important infrastructure projects continue across the country, so our deep water quays need to be kept running so we can move project cargo from ship to shore.

This has included delivery of massive parts for a new thermal vacuum chamber at the National Satellite Test Facility, which has taken over 18 months of planning.

Everyone needs to follow the NHS advice and self-isolate if they or anyone in their household has symptoms. This could mean a reduced workforce, so we needed to look at being able to take on other roles.

We’ve all been prepared to contribute, and we’ve seen a real effort from staff to help keep operations going. Senior managers are hands-on working in warehouses, creating a great team spirit among all Portico employees.

I’ve even taken a refresher course so I can stand in for our crane drivers. We’re all in this together and it’s only right I’m doing what I can to help out.

To keep the terminal running smoothly, we took decisive action quickly to implement social distancing measures and asked staff who could work from home to stay away from site.

Remote working has been a big success, with teams using video conferencing and other online tools to keep the show on the road.

Staff who are still on-site are keeping their distance from each other and are following guidelines to stop the spread of the virus.

Our message to the public and our customers is that we are working hard at Portico to keep families fed and ensure major infrastructure projects can continue, despite the challenges.

If you think your business could benefit from our facilities and expertise, give us a call – we can help.