When it comes to manufacturing supply chains in the age of the coronavirus, the only thing we know for sure is how much we don’t know.

How long will the pandemic and its effects on supply chains last? How bad will it get? How many shocks will supply chains suffer before a vaccine is developed? How bad will the disruption(s) be? None of us know for sure, but manufacturers can still take steps to significantly strengthen their supply chains against future unpredictability.

Hoffmann + Krippner has some experience in this area. Because our organization consists of a series of close-knit, vertically integrated partners spread across multiple continents, we’ve already forged a resilient network of supply chain and manufacturing partnerships. We recommend:

Adapt inventory management to the realities of a coronavirus-stricken world.

Many manufacturers – especially those that favor lean principles – rely on concepts like just-in-time manufacturing to guide their operations. These systems maximize efficiency but erode resiliency. Since the coronavirus is a long-term emergency, managing it is like running a marathon. Manufacturers and supply chain vendors need to adapt their inventory management to accommodate any future supply chain disruption, component shortages, etc. That may mean losing some efficiencies but can help sustain operations over the long-term.

Implement emergency supply chain monitoring.

You can’t react quickly enough if you don’t see the supply shocks coming. John Chambers, former CEO of Cisco Systems and current CEO of JC2 Ventures, writes in Fortune Magazine that a major focus of his supply chain risk management team was monitoring supply chain disruptions around the clock. If they spotted something that might affect their operations, they immediately communicated the issues to a response team, “creating a seamless process to manage a supply chain issue from start to finish.”

Utilize secondary suppliers and vendors.

Centralizing reliance on a single source or region creates huge risks in an uncertain environment. Disperse supply chain options into different geographic territories. Through Hoffmann + Krippner’s own family of companies and partners, we’ve learned how helpful it is when different partners can turn to the others as needed to deal with changing conditions. We can’t predict what will happen, but we can ensure we have more options available to us to navigate any changes.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Accurate, timely information is very hard to come by in emergency situations. Transparency is key. Partners cannot make the best possible business decisions if they don’t have complete, high-quality information. First, you must communicate with your customers and partners to manage expectations. Then, you must proactively seek information from your own suppliers and vendors so you can remain adaptive and responsive to their situation.

Ultimately, creating a sustainable and “anti-fragile” supply chain depends on smart, quick, and adaptive thinking and making best use of partners who are doing the same.

– – – –

Critical components for high-quality medical equipment is a specialty at Hoffmann + Krippner, where machine design and mechanics are given equal emphasis . For more information about Hoffmann + Krippner’s COVID-19 preparations and our production capabilities, read our most recent statement and follow news as it updates here. For more information or for answers to specific questions, contact us here.