12th May 2020
Supply Chain Vs Pandemic
For a short while, the incredible circumstances we find ourselves in seemingly had the world at a standstill.
The overriding priority to slow the spread of the virus and save as many lives as possible seems to be going in the right direction (very, very slowly it seems), but there are unfortunately many that have lost loved ones to this invisible nightmare in the process.
Putting aside the personal, as a recruiter the employment market is the area I revert to by default. Employment is an area that has suffered greatly; Redundancies, furlough schemes and small businesses closing on a global scale, with government financial support coming in various forms but for a large percentage of those affected, this support will not be enough come the time normal operations can resume.
Global supply chain within the life sciences industry
Regardless of how the global economy goes up and down, the one constant is that people will always need healthcare and healthcare organisations will always need pharmaceutical and medical device companies to develop solutions. The need for stability in supply chain is there now more than ever, and many cases the preparedness for a global pandemic emergency has been exposed with tragic circumstances, especially those who have had a high dependence on China to fulfil their need for raw materials or finished products.
Decades of supply chain optimisation to minimize costs, reduce inventories, and drive up asset utilisation has removed buffers and flexibility to absorb disruptions ─ and COVID-19 illustrates that many organisations are not fully aware of the vulnerability of their supply chain relationships to a global crisis, giving themselves a near insurmountable task. In the UK, a direct result of this has been demonstrated by how ill-equipped our National Health Service was with even the basic of supplies, including PPE. Many other countries had better-funded healthcare organisations and a far lower mortality rate.
Fortunately, new supply chain technologies are emerging that dramatically improve visibility across the end-to-end supply chain, supporting operational ability to resist a crisis. Traditional linear supply chain models are transforming into digital networks, where organizations become connected to their complete supply network to enable end-to-end visibility, collaboration and agility.
Leveraging advanced technologies such as AI, robotics, 5G and digital supply chain are designed to anticipate and meet future challenges. Whether it is a pandemic event like COVID-19, or trade wars, acts of war/terrorism, regulatory changes, labour disputes, sudden spikes in demand, supplier bankruptcy (basically any bad thing that happens to the world!), the bottom line is that organisations will be better positioned to deal with the unexpected.
How can organisations respond to these changes?
These measures to protect and ultimately better prepare supply chain operations long-term, start with having the correct professionals within your business to execute a transformation. As workload to minimise disruption has undoubtedly increased, there is little time for implementation of such transformation initiatives simultaneously. Across Europe and US, we have access to a significant number of experienced supply chain consulting professionals, available for temporary work and equipped to remote support on transformation projects, or more immediate needs if you need an extra pair of hands.
I would love to hear the thoughts of any life science supply chain leaders to discuss plans for their department during COVID-19 and into the new world beyond!
Thank you for reading and stay safe.
By Jim Bellicoso