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Supply Chains Amid COVID19 Pandemic

We ended the world war with the power of an atom, and today we face the war in the Nanoworld itself, which would be won by having information and supply chain ascendancies.

Emerging from China, the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the rest of the world. Global transportation routes are disrupted, and millions displaced due to the travel restrictions and cautionary guidelines. However, thousands are nurtured to their health by our tirelessly working healthcare professional

A pandemic outbreak that rendered shockwave effects across industries and tore through their business models and supply chains. Many businesses lack in accurately determining the ‘changed’ or ‘newfound’ buying behavior of their consumers. For numerous companies, demands dropped significantly or migrated to online channels.

Due to potential health risks, manufacturers are struggling to staff labor for running companies at standard operating capacity. Numerous enterprises face interruptions in their delivery routes and closure of their logistics hubs. From small businesses to billion-dollar enterprises, COVID19 impacts every industry alike, with the likelihood of many suffering a permanent shutdown.

Impact Analysis of Pandemics on Supply Chains

Lack of Threat IntelligenceSituational Awareness

As paradoxical as it may sound, in today’s connected and informed knowledge economy, most countries and companies don’t have a cogent threat perception of the events or the nature of the virus. It is this lack of situational awareness that resulted in sizable damage to the global economy. As China reels back from the pandemic, a sharp 20% GDP decline marks a dent in their economic stability. If other countries didn’t exercise aggressive social distancing and stringent cautionary guidelines, will experience similar economic repercussions. Almost 3.3 million American workers filed for their unemployment benefits, beckoning the end of decade-long job growth and shattering the previous unemployment records.

While the global economy reels back from a massive blow, the strongest healthcare sectors face absolute collapse. The growing demand for certain medical or sustenance hardware bottleneck the global supply while the increasing cases challenge our medical preparation strategy. In the case of coronavirus, the flattening of curve and shortage of tests and ventilators were possible if dedicated supply chains were planned and identified in time.

Economic Resilience – Impact on Supply Lines

The past pandemic disruptive events were mostly viewed in the framework of a health crisis, and the global spread was well-dispersed in time, concluding that these events did not pose a severe threat to the economies. The coronavirus event and future pandemics -especially in the unknown genre- would have to be referenced both in the framework of health and economic crisis.

As 77% of American small business owners foresee a bleak future, COIVD-19 taught some hard lessons about single basket dependency.  As an implementation of quarantine controls, most of the factories, ports, and travel routes were shut down across China. The ripple effects of this shut down were felt globally, as companies found their supply chain staring at the face of recession.

The closure of factories and businesses across the western world worsened the situation, with even the largest companies see their business models failing. Moreover, crazy buying and hoarding of certain items act as an additional burden on the already constraint supply lines.  

The current economic model of most companies is based on pursuing efficiency that results in following the quickest and cheapest way to do or make something. In the case of coronavirus pandemic, business models are being challenged, supply chains are being questioned, and we are staring at 32% of the American workforce sitting at home without pay.

Measures to Win

We already have a global treaty called the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons (BTWC) in place. It prohibits the use of asphyxiating, poisonous gases, and bacteriological methods of warfare. However, there is no global treaty that compels a country to permit the free flow of information or exchange of scientific data during a viral outbreak. There is a dire need that all the countries form a treaty for a timely and comprehensive exchange of information and other scientific data upon any viral disruption in the future. In the recent scenario, information about the specifics of coronavirus was released after a delay of one month. This critical time could have been used to strengthen and identify alternative supply lines of critical medical infrastructure.

There is a dire need of a dedicated agency that continuously monitors the activities and changes in the Nanoworld. Such an agency would forewarn the governments about an impending outbreak and apprise authorities to formulate mitigation plans.

Homegrown Manufacturing – Shortened and Distributive Supply Chains

During the coronavirus pandemic, U.S.A and most other countries are dependent on China for 90% of their supply lines, resulting in concurrent global spikes in demand across Europe and South East Asia. Thus, securing a dedicated supply of test kits, critical masks, and ventilators have become a challenge, which in turn prevents flattening of the infection curve.

The capitalist ideology and the free market have thus far made economic sense to extend the supply lines from China. Although countries cannot wish the capitalist free market away, they need to get some critical manufacturing infrastructure brought back to the U.S. under the aegis of the state or subsidized by the state. For instance, manufacturing the raw material for the generic medicines that may be subsidized by the government citing National assets.

Technology

There are several critical parts or items that can be manufactured over a network of dedicated 3-D printers. This would greatly help in decongesting the supply chains and reducing the time from manufacturing to usage of a product.

Due to social distancing norms, there is a heavy reliance on the online ordering of items. To improve the contactless delivery, various delivery modes such as the drones or delivery to lockers can be developed.

The healthcare providers are the most vulnerable asset in times of pandemics and therefore need to be protected and utilized optimally for the most critical cases. This can be achieved by quarantining patients with minimal symptoms at home, with sensors taking their bio-vitals, and sending them to the nearest analytics data center.

Take Away

Familiarity with the transmission modes, mutation possibilities, and nature of COVID19 can help us in driving the cure or vaccine against it. However, the immensity and the nature of the next pandemic outbreak yet to be projected.  These unknowns would warrant our mitigation plans and supply chains to be versatile and robust in every deadly scenario.

Other than a pandemic outbreak, bio-weapon is a terrifyingly deliberate viral event. The sick would fall overwhelm a country’s medical and supply chain infrastructure, thus, bleeding the economy to recession.

The reality of pandemics or bio-weapons and the unpredictability of the virus’s nature are here to stay. The current coronavirus outbreak would jolt us into transitioning to the new order and force us to reshape our system in combat against Nanoworld.

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