An essential service

From the April 2020 print edition

The world has been turned upside down in a very short time. From mandatory social distancing, mass layoffs, to closing factories and offices – all on a global scale – no human endeavour has escaped unaffected from the global pandemic brought about by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and COVID-19, the illness it causes.

Our system of global supply chains is taxed by grounded flights, shuttered borders, states of emergency and other knock-on pandemic effects. Supply chains will therefore face hard choices in the not-to-distant future.

And yet, this has all shown just how vital supply chains are to daily life. It’s easy for consumers to forget that when life runs smoothly. But a crisis like the current one brings the essential nature of supply chains into more stark relief.

The situation has shown supply chains to be an essential service. It has also shown the importance of resilience. When the most disruptive phase of the pandemic is behind us, many supply chain organizations will think deeply about how their operations function and what risk management protocols must be in place to protect them from future calamities.

In this issue, our contributors discuss the virus’s effects on the supply chain from a variety of perspectives. In his Business Front column on page 5, Michael Hlinka envisions “radically different” future supply chains – a world in which those supply chains are brought closer to home.

We look on page 8 at steps that supply chain organizations can take to mitigate the effects of the virus, both now and into the future. Among these steps are to consider serious strategy changes in the longer term, including a more diversified approach to sourcing.

On page 13, Christian Siviere discusses the impact of COVID-19 on air cargo. Siviere also envisions shorter supply chains, along with partnering with suppliers to keep stock closer to home becoming more common.

Finally, on page 30, our contributor to The Law column, Paul Emanuelli, discusses public procurement operations and how to deal with the stimulus spending recently announced in response to the pandemic.

And while this will all cost a lot, there are sources saying Canada can afford it. Some economists also contend the economy may bounce back quicker than one would think. Supply chains have the potential to emerge more resilient than before.

So how are you coping? Is your organization planning a major rethink? What changes are we likely to see? Let me know. You can reach me at [email protected] or 416-441-2085, ext. 110.

Happy reading and and stay safe!

Michael Power is editor of Supply Professional magazine.