Strange as it may sound, yet, in the light of this growing situation, the simple and apt mantra is ‘Stay home, Stay safe’. However, we realise it is not as simple as it sounds ! For most of us , our lives have been moving on a fast track with literally everything available at our finger tips and we have taken so many things for granted. Covid-19, has put a break on our lives plus the luxury of things that were once available at our fingertips are becoming a distant dream during this pandemic situation. There has been a unprecedented impact on all supply chain process across the globe and the global supply chain at one point during the initial days of this pandemic outbreak was unpleasantly gazing at the repercussions this pandemic could bestow upon supply chains. From raw material manufacturers who is the starting point in supply chain till the retailer who is the last link in supply chain before a consumer gets his product were wondering how will consumer demands be met when there is no activity happening in this mammoth called supply chain, where logistical activities like packing, transport and distribution which aid to the supply chain process have all come to a deafening standstill becoming motionless.
China is the major supplier of critical raw materials, accounting for 70% of their global supply. This is very alarming that 70% of global supply of critical raw material comes from China themselves, in addition to this based on the pricing, they offer you different quality, hence most of the companies across the globe piggyback on China for all their raw material supply needs. When the pandemic first started in china, this global supply chain was disrupted, pushing orders to be delayed and in some cases factories operated at 50% staff to help contain the virus outbreak, which resulted in longer lead times. The end product manufacturer who was depending on this critical raw material to start his production cycle was caught unawares resulting his order fulfilment cycle to be impacted and the retailer/ wholesaler/ distributors not getting the products on time to be able to service the end consumer. Along with this effect, a consumer who realised that there would be a shortage of supply, started panicbuying of all essential items, even to the extent of making their basement a mini warehouse. Overall there was uncertainty not only in supply chain circles, but also among consumers, manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. There was indistinct feeling across the supply chain of what would become of the current situation and how to mitigate the effects the virus had on the global supply chain?
During such times of pandemonium in the supply chain, it was supply chain that supported places like hospitals get their medicines and all other medical related equipment’s when it was most needed. Since lockdowns were imposed, active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and generics which came from two of the largest producers: China and India had reduced to a large extent. This reduced supply of (APIs) were typical due to the reduced workforce have been able to return to work. However when the need for such lifesaving drugs became need of the hour, supply chain and logistics sprang back to action to ensure that these reach the right recipients. Human workforce was necessary to wake this sleeping giant called supply chain, which went into slow slumber during this pandemic. Factory workers/ people working in the logistics filed and supply chain managers were told to maintain strict regulations and enough social distancing so that they are not affected during such a crisis and they not become carriers of this pandemic back to their neighbourhoods and families.
Though there were scarcities during the short term, in the long term supply chain and logistical companies are working out different strategies to keep the drug supply afloat.
Not only did the pharmaceutical supply was stabilized, the food industry also had a big role to play during this pandemic ensuring their supply chains face a long term threat. During the initial days of the pandemic there was an increased demand for consumer packaged goods such as food, beverages, and cleaning products due to shoppers indulged in panic bulk buying. There was one point in time when most of the super market shelves were bare and glaring at each consumer telling him/her that “we are out of stock in the short term”. Slowly but surely consumers realised there was no shortage in the food supply chain. All the basic necessities were back on the supermarket shelves and refrigerators giving a ray of hope to consumers that food supply chain is there to stay. A cattle farmer is caught in a predicament what will happen to all the milk that his cows produce? If milk is not removed pressure builds up in a cow which eventually stops the secretion so that no more milk is produced. Or, If the cow has recently calved and is producing a lot of milk then the pressure would be exceedingly uncomfortable and infection could occur resulting in the death of the cow. To help with this situation, supply chain played a critical role by ensuring all the milk is collected from the farmer’s end, brought to the factory, processed and supplied to all the retailers so there is no shortage of this essential item. Likewise, packaged food, fruit and vegetable farmers are relying heavily on supply chain to take their produce and make it available to consumers even in times such as this pandemic covid-19.
Ultimately Supply Chain and the people who work in supply chain are the HERO’s who is playing a pivotal role in ensuring that mankind is saved just like doctors and health care workers risk their lives to save humans. Even during the time of pandemic or any other challenge that might over take the world that we live in, it is supply chain and logistics acting as the last man standing to help humans in time of their dire need to ensure a human life is saved at any cost.