Toward the end of 2019, “Coronavirus” was a buzzword among the supply chain industry. Not many knew about it, but it was slowly taking over China, shutting down operations and forcing citizens to stay home to help slow the spread. Still, professionals kept a close eye on what was happening overseas, but nonetheless remained optimistic about 2020.
And then the cases started trickling to other countries, and then to the United States. On March 13, 2020, the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) was declared a global pandemic, and overnight, the world changed. Schools shut down, companies told their employees to work from home and goods were flying off the shelves. Many were afraid of what was to come, but supply chain professionals helped keep the world moving.
In April 2020, Resilinc and Premier Inc. announced the roll out of The Exchange at Resilinc, a cloud-based platform for the healthcare industry that enabled hospitals to interact with vetted peer organizations to identify, locate and exchange critical medical items during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Through the pandemic, our profession has been brought to the forefront and the widespread shortages and rationing sparked urgent debate and discussion. Resilinc’s premise has been validated and our solution -- and the associated return on investment -- has been realized. COVID-19 was a watershed moment for supply chains, and Resilinc is very well positioned to support the industry’s future direction and strong bent towards resilience,” says by Bindiya Vakil, CEO and founder of Resilinc and winner of Supply & Demand Chain Executive's 2020 Women in Supply Chain award.
The pandemic exposed the lack of investment and focus on supply chain risk management, Vakil suggests.
“Consider this: 97% of companies experienced disruptions associated with COVID-19. However, those who had risk programs fared better than those who had ignored risk in the past,” says Vakil. “COVID-19 created an urgent imperative for companies to focus on building supply-chain resilience capabilities.”
Supplier viaibility and visibility will remain important throughout the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies are now moving to invest in monitoring and mapping solutions through tools like what Resilinc offers. This allows companies to be prepared within minutes of a potential disruption as they know which suppliers, parts, sites and products could potentially be at risk, enabling them to be first in line to secure constrained inventory and capacity at alternate sites.
“This past year served as a wakeup call for global supply chain leaders; they learned that they cannot relegate risk management to the back office and continue to focus on saving costs and reducing inventory. These have to go hand in hand. Companies are more attuned today than ever before in acknowledging the near constant environment of uncertainty and risk. Now there is a greater focus on building and adopting the intelligence and tools needed to manage them,” says Vakil.
While Vakil suggests that Resilinc wasn’t necessarily “in the field” when it comes to COVID-19 prevention, they did offer protection. With The Exchange, the Resilinc team was able to conceptualize, design, develop, test and launch the platform within three weeks. The Exchange enabled more than 2,000 hospitals and surgical centers to trade millions of medical supplies and other personal protective equipment (PPE) equipment.
“I sincerely admire and appreciate those on the front lines daily, risking their health to keep our world functioning. I’m proud the work my team and I did -- being on the virtual frontline made a positive impact in the physical world. In a year where we’ve had so many lives and livelihoods lost to the global pandemic, Resilinc’s tools and intelligence helped keep supply chains running, factories operating and people employed. I’m especially proud of our team that mobilized and volunteered time to build an online solution to help hospitals nationwide find and exchange.”
Vakil expects the supply chain industry to remain vigilant about using the tools they have to predict, prepare for and help solve supply chain issues. As companies demand more visibility, the world becomes more transparent.
“COVID-19 pandemic showed the best of humanity. People across the world mobilized and came together throughout the pandemic to bring their creativity, talent and problem-solving skills to help solve the needs of the hour. We saw universities and entrepreneurs inventing N95 grade masks; clothing factories producing masks at scale; automotive companies producing ventilators within weeks; and an individual stepping up to help a family needing help in the local community. We have a vaccine within 12 months – a unique feat in itself! Impact does not have to be large scale. We can be change agents in our sphere of influence. COVID-19 showed us thousands of examples of how people worldwide stepped up in the moment,” says Vakil.