COVID-19 Is Supply Chain’s Wake-Up Call
The power of centralized organizations must harness and unleash the strengths of decentralized communities to help beat this crisis.
The novel coronavirus has plunged the world into a global crisis of unknown magnitude, unknown intensity, and unknown duration. In the process it has made supply chains everyone’s business. However, the organizations, processes, and systems that ensure the smooth operation of society were not designed for a crisis such as the one we must now confront.
For the past few years, we’ve been talking about supply chain, localization, innovation, and technology. In 2017 our belief in the power of grassroots-driven open innovation communities led us to form The Worldwide Supply Chain Federation (TWSCF). We are not alone. Thousands of supply chain professionals, educators, and inventors have joined our quest to rethink and change how supply chain operates in 2020 and beyond.
Doing Nothing Is NOT an Option
On Friday afternoon on March 20, 2020, we were fed up with the pace of decision-making at the federal, state, and city levels. We decided to take a front-row seat and put our money where our mouth is. It’s working.
The shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators was staggering; not to mention the difficulty finding suppliers, red tape in the ordering process, price gouging, and fraud. This creates an impossible hurdle for hospitals, nursing homes, local governments, shelters, prisons, and the like to filter through the noise to place orders. As an interdisciplinary, grassroots community of innovators and enterprises devoted to building supply chain networks of the future, TWSCF is in a perfect position to help.
Creating a Localized Network of Suppliers
Together, with the help of Airtable, an online database collaboration company, our team created a global clearinghouse to carefully vet and onboard PPE and related suppliers along with set fixed pricing. This is orchestrated with the help of numerous donations and both U.S. and overseas manufacturers. We partnered with JOOR, the leading tech fashion wholesale platform/marketplace that connects thousands of brand manufacturers and retailers. JOOR is providing #TWSCF a private marketplace for their verified suppliers and buyers, which enables instant access and scale for manufacturers, and the ones who need it most on the front lines.
Companies Coming Onboard
Logistics partners are in place to manage shipments from four regional hubs around the country. It’s a terrific example of a localized, agile, and collaborative network. Brands like Tibi, Everlane, Vera Bradley, Citizens of Humanity, Guess, Walter Baker, and more are participating. We’re also enabling small factories to rehire their workers that they recently laid off. We’re not limited to fashion—we’ve also been documenting innovative “made in the USA” filtration materials for masks, new open-source and low-cost ventilators, and emerging certified innovations for sterilization and reuse of existing PPE, sourced from around the world.
If there is any silver lining to this global crisis, it has made crystal clear that our globalized supply chains are at risk. The harsh reality is that the impact of this pandemic will go on for some time, and the supply requirements (domestically and worldwide) will be extremely high for the foreseeable future. The time is now to create a more diverse combination of localized orchestration and U.S.-based manufacturing to put makers and apparel factories back to work to ensure resiliency and reduce the load on local government and hospital procurement resources.
Call to Action
We need U.S. manufacturers and healthcare facilities in need of PPE to work with us. Visit our website at www.theworldwidesupplychainfederation.com to match production capabilities with a list of healthcare products in demand. Healthcare facilities can sign up for the PPE they most need, and will be granted access to the private marketplace once onboarded. Also, local government offices are encouraged to connect so they can take pressure off their resources and healthcare facilities in orchestration of PPE supply.