We all remember the early days of the pandemic. Covid-19 marched relentlessly from nation to nation. When the Coronavirus reached the US, we were woefully unprepared. State governments scrambled to hoard personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, medical masks, respirators, goggles, face shields, gowns, and aprons. Market manipulation and price gouging caused the costs of surgical masks and N95 respirators to soar. Much-needed supplies took months to deliver.
Technology Offers Visibility to Combat Supply Chain Disruptions
As the pandemic dragged on, more and more issues with the supply chain became apparent. We needed visibility. There was no universal system to show where the supplies were. What we needed most was a way of seeing who had resources, who needed them, and who was capable of supplying them.
The ordering and fulfillment process was fragmented at best. Stockpiles dwindled, and there was no word on when we would be able to replenish them.
During the last two years, we have made significant progress. Technology is slowly allowing us to overcome supply chain disruptions in manufacturing, shipping, and distribution. The system is still far from perfect and strained under the demands of an ongoing pandemic, but we see hope as transparency and reliability increase.
Strengthening the Supply Chain Allows Early Preparation
With targeted innovations in technology, supply chain disruptions can be eliminated through early preparation. When anything stands between consumers and the equipment ensuring their health and safety, PPE industry suppliers must establish a verifiable supply chain to maintain integrity and trust with consumers in wholesale and retail markets. Furthermore, it is necessary to make these supplies available in advance.
Post-pandemic companies recognize the need to develop a supply chain that is ready and robust enough to withstand another surge in the demand for medical supplies. The right technology can allow suppliers to ramp up the production of personal protective equipment and know exactly where to deliver it before the need arises.
Since the pandemic’s first days, hospitals have scrambled to translate local COVID-19 surges into predictive information that can help them obtain the supplies they need. Today, healthcare providers utilize technology in real-time surveillance of the pandemic. They are staying up to date at all times concerning the spread of Covid-19 and the availability of supplies. These innovations enable us to receive early warnings, forecast surges, and plan coordinated responses.
Solving Supply Chain Disruptions in Public and Government Sectors
It’s not just the private sector that needs to ramp up technology’s role in the fight against supply chain disruptions. During national emergencies, governments need real-time visibility into where supplies are at all times.
Technology has the power to show everyone the supplies that are in government stockpiles, in distribution, and in hospital inventories. Visibility and transparency are the only remedies that will prevent the hoarding and market manipulation that challenged our country’s supply chain during the first months of the pandemic.
Technology offers both the government and the private sector the ability to know when and where critical supplies will be needed. It allows the federal government to monitor and allocate those resources in a timely fashion. It will enable health care providers to predict hospitalizations related to the Coronavirus and to be confident of the availability of essential medical supplies.
Taking advantage of this technology benefits everyone. Advanced preparation creates a positive ripple effect that relieves the pandemic’s burden on the supply chain. As the strain eases, healthcare becomes more responsive, and businesses and schools remain open.
The pandemic highlighted the flaws already present in a fragile supply chain. Today, technology is allowing us to address those imperfections. Making the data and intelligence regarding essential supplies readily available is our best hope for ensuring access when we need it most.
Patrick Callaway is the CEO of Octofund Group. With years of product research, development, management, and distribution experience, Patrick has acquired unique expertise in both personal protective equipment as well as supply chain management.