How to adapt to COVID-19 with resilience and agility
In April 2020, Nulogy hosted a webinar panel focused on the challenges facing contract suppliers, as well as insights, solutions, and learnings gained from tackling the ongoing pandemic.
In April 2020, Nulogy hosted a webinar panel featuring four supply chain leaders to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on their operations. The discussion focused on the challenges facing contract packagers, contract manufacturers and 3PLs, as well as insights, solutions, and learnings gained from tackling the ongoing pandemic.
The panel discussion consisted of:
Three key takeaways arose from their stories of managing supply chain challenges resulting from COVID-19:
For all the panelists, it was of utmost importance to bring confidence and comfort to their essential workers.
“Soon after lockdown started, our immediate priorities were to add new safety procedures to our facility and to communicate regularly in order to alleviate employee concerns,” says Crescent’s Tom Schwallie. “In our facility, we added more robust and frequent sanitation protocols, distributed gloves and PPE, and enforced hand washing and social distancing. On the organizational side, we focused on listening to what employees were saying, and having our crisis management team provide daily updates in response.”
David Gray of Greenseed Packaging stressed the importance of strong leadership during a crisis. “It’s vital to have a leadership team that’s calm, listening, learning and asking reflective questions,” he said. “It’s the leadership team’s role to bring confidence to the organization.”
It's the leadership team's role to bring confidence to the organization.
Microsoft’s David Warrick also emphasized the need for emotional intelligence and empathy in resolving issues presented by COVID-19. “People all around the world are coping with information overload, and that can take an emotional toll through stress, grief, and depression,” he explained. “In addition to making sure our staff feel safe, we want to make sure they are comfortable and confident enough to share how they’re feeling and what their concerns are.
“It’s important for us to bring a level of emotional education and understanding that’s truly needed at this time.”
Of equal importance was the need for constant connection and communication in managing the chaos and concerns surrounding staff and the business.
“Our key focus here was to build confidence,” said Michael Briggs of Marsden Packaging. “To raise the confidence of our employees as high as possible, we set up a daily meeting on the floor to share what we’re working on, and solicited suggestions on policies and procedures to keep everyone happy. At the same time, we want to spread that confidence to customers and assure them that we are able to meet their needs.”
We want to spread that confidence to customers and assure them that we are able to meet their needs.
“Whether it’s from a people perspective or a business perspective, problem solving requires a continual flow of communication,” Warrick added. “There are no stupid questions: we are all working toward the greater good.”
All the panelists agreed that COVID-19 unsurprisingly added unprecedented levels of unpredictability and complexity into their operations—from demand planning to employee safety. Nulogy customers on the panel cited the software’s use in managing COVID-19-specific issues. “We have been utilizing Nulogy’s planning tools to dynamically manage our schedule and workload,” says Schwallie. “We’ve also been able to run mock drills through production tracking to create close contact lists for quarantine, in the event that an employee on the floor tests positive.”
We’ve been able to run mock drills through production tracking to create close contact lists for quarantine, in the event that an employee on the floor tests positive.
Briggs agreed, adding that Nulogy helps reduce downtime on the line as production schedules change, “making us more efficient with changeovers and planning, because our planning changes almost hourly.”
“Our traditional models on demand and supply have gone out the window, and we’ve had to switch our demand planning cycle from monthly to daily, in addition to managing huge increases in customer demand,” said Gray. “The changes we’ve had to make, however, enabled a level of agility which looks even greater in the foreseeable future. We need to be agile like this all the time—not just when a crisis happens.”
Panelists were asked for their closing thoughts on the topic: “All the operational changes we’ve made over the past five to six weeks may well be the new norm,” Warrick said, “but we’re still trying to stay as agile as possible. We’re not going to make any knee-jerk reactions, because our world is still changing.”
We valued flexibility before COVID-19 and we will continue to do so in the future—perhaps more than ever.
“Crises historically unlock a lot of human ingenuity and I hope we hang on to that,” Schwallie said. “It’s difficult to know what the future will really look like. We valued flexibility before COVID-19 and we will continue to do so in the future—perhaps more than ever.”