When will Covid19 be over?” — is the question we are all asking. The answer is complicated and depends on billions of variables. One of the most unpredictable variables in the equation is humans. There are about 8 billion of us living on the planet and never have we been so acutely aware that we are all connected.
Global catastrophes change our world, and this pandemic’s influence will be as impactful as a world war. At some point, we will contain Covid, but the legacy of this virus will live with us for years and it will change the way we move, work, shop, build, connect and run our businesses.
There will be a seismic shift in how we approach manufacturing and distribution. Already we are seeing who has the capacity to be responsive under pressure. Around the globe factories are pivoting in various ways:
● Liquor companies have converted their factories to make hand sanitizer
● Auto plants are building ventilators
● Running shoe factories are sewing face masks
It is impressive to see a factory switch up its production so swiftly, but these examples are extreme and rare. Not many factories can “MacGvver” their production line overnight.
And if a factory can transform themselves, the next question is: can they even move their product on time to its final destination?
When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico back in 2017, the island and its economy were devastated. Many people did not realize how many big-pharma companies were based on this small American island. Back then, Puerto Rico’s pharmaceutical industry was massive and supplied dozens of life-saving medications to the US mainland – it also accounted for over 25% of US drug exports.
But it only took 1 hurricane to cripple an integral part of a global pharmaceutical supply chain worth billions. After the hurricane, some of the big-pharma giants closed their plants in Puerto Rico and moved shop to China and India. Did this make their supply chain stronger?
It may have protected them from future hurricanes, but it also made their supply chain more vulnerable to distance, shipping, foreign labour, international laws, gas prices, trade wars, taxes and deadlines.
So, what are the early lessons already coming out of this Covid crisis?
Here is what we are seeing:
Unusual Partnerships: Major manufacturers are striking unusual partnerships and
sharing designs to rapidly boost production of many products such as ventilators and
masks. This will embolden many industries to cross pollinate after Covid is over.
Covid19 has been compared to a war. Using that analogy, let’s look at how we prepare for war. A nation does not wait to build fighter jets, develop strategies or train troops; these things are invested in and planned for years in advance.
We need to plan, build and invest in our businesses and warehouses the same way. To make ourselves robust and agile for future challenges. Currently, we are all in a tremendous Covid learning curve. This pandemic will show us where the strengths and weaknesses exist in our companies and supply chains.
How can your company become more nimble? More relevant? Where do your opportunities exist? Some industries will not survive the post-covid world – but some many will adapt and evolve. And of course, whole new opportunities will emerge.
The ability to pivot – even in micro ways – is critical to weather all storms.