Resilient Supply Chains in the Age of Disruptions

Through the covid19 pandemic, we have seen gaps in business supply chains but we have also seen great leadership and flexibility – providing some business’ with the capability to change and adapt quickly in order to stay resilient during the crisis. We have seen successful businesses pivot to put more emphasis on international partnerships and 3rd party relationships, to change manufacturing capabilities, and to improve work force flexibility and product adaptation to stay ahead of the curve.

The medical industry, and medical technology in particular, has been able to quickly adapt and gain an advantage during this chaotic time. One major area of advancement has been in the adaptation of medical data handling apps such as HealthShare Digital’s BetterConsult, as well as a similar product from WeGuide, which have been instrumental in screening for COVID19, and which provide information dissemination based on geographical location. Meanwhile Anatomics, a medical device company, has come forward with a solution to logistics issues, by reappointing its 3D printing and manufacturing center to produce and distribute medical equipment that is otherwise scarce due to international supply chain issues.1

Outside the scope of the medical industry, another example of a company which has stayed successful through the pandemic is BevChain Pty Limited. This alcoholic beverage specialist is a primary supplier to a wide range of pubs, clubs, and restaurants. However, when majority of their target market were shut down, the company had to pivot. Their market volume literally died overnight. But by shifting its focus away from hospitality and towards more retail sales they were able to stay afloat and conquer through a struggling economic market. In order to do this, BevChain had to redeploy workers to deliver services to supermarkets and similar establishments – which is a significant change from their usual operations.2

Product flexibility and adaptability has meant success for some other businesses, as well. For example, many distilleries, such as Archie Rose and Hartshorn Distillery, whose main business focus was on the production of alcoholic beverages, recognised a huge opportunity. They observed a rapidly growing and high demand market with a product that was growing scarce. That product was alcohol-based sanitiser. In response to this almost overnight change in the market, these companies shifted some of their beverage production capacity to the output of hand sanitiser products. Consequently, they were able to deliver a highly profitable, premium product to the market with nearly perfect timing.3 Similarly, some companies that produced liquid detergents shifted some of their production capacity to hand sanitiser, as well. They recognised that the dramatic increase in demand for these products coincided with a change in demand for their beverages, and their response allowed them to stay on top throughout the crisis.

ResMed is another company that rose to the challenge of product flexibility and adaptability. As a medical supply company that specialised in sleep apnea products, they quickly made adjustments in their operations, adapting some of the company’s production to support increasing demand by hospitals for respiration equipment. According to a message from the company’s CEO, Mick Farrell, in response to the pandemic crisis,

“Our primary focus is to maximise the availability of ResMed ventilators and other respiratory support devices for the patients that need them most.” 4

In all these examples, the companies found new ways to use the resources they already had to stay alive and move forward.

What we have seen in regard to truly resilient supply chains in this age of disruptions is a consistent pattern of solid leadership and decision making, in which managers and CEOs have overseen large scale change-management to adapt to a new environment. It is through the flexibility of leaders and their organisations that businesses will be able to survive and overcome whatever future challenges the future may hold.

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