As the ongoing pandemic continues to raise concerns about the agility of global supply chains, organisations across industries are looking for ways to identify and leverage new opportunities and weather the storm.
In a webinar hosted by GoComet last week, vice-president procurement of Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Rajasekhara Reddy emphasised how technology and a strong team are the key pillars of a resilient supply chain.
Here’s a synopsis of the insights shared by Mr Reddy
Switching from air to ocean freight
“We thought that the virus was somewhere far away and suddenly it came to our doorstep. It disrupted supply chains around the world. We being a pharmaceutical company didn’t have the choice to take a break for a few months and then come back,” Mr Reddy said.
He added that 80% of the capacity vanished overnight. Having a huge dependence on airfreight, one of the biggest challenge Glenmark faced was switching from airfreight to ocean overnight.
“Ports were being shut due to coronavirus cases and the Government didn’t know how to react. The first reaction was to shut down the ports for 14 days. Long-distance carriers were not working, all the cargo capacity was diverted to China as everyone was buying personal protective equipment from there,” Mr Reddy said.
To minimise the impact of the disruption, the pharma company identified a few airlines and made an offer stating that Glenmark will pay for the fuel, parking charges, crew, etc. and in return gets 60% capacity. The airline could sell the remaining capacity in the market.
Improving predictability helped Glenmark build the confidence that they could send freight by sea.
“Destruction paves way for a new growth.”
Leveraging data more important than ever before
“Previously I was happy with 35 day transit time from the plant to the warehouse. But with the availability of data and technology to leverage that data, I can now see what is happening at each stage of the supply chain and hence, deliver within 26-27 days,’ Mr Reddy said.
The supply chain professional further added that today dependence on data has increased as companies today don’t have the luxury of time. “Unlike before now we monitor every stage of the shipment, gather data points throughout the journey of the shipment and make decisions accordingly.”
People and technology are the strongest pillars of a resilient supply chain
While speaking about how Glenmark has ensured supply chain resilience amid the pandemic, Mr Reddy highlighted the importance of extending support to the teams one works with and leveraging technology.
“When you cannot predict something you need people who will stand up for you and the second important pillar is technology. What we can’t do otherwise becomes possible with technology,” he said.
“Logistics is one of the new areas which has helped us. Innovation in logistics has kept the wheels going.”
Mr Reddy added that when you work in a team, your team needs your support and you need theirs. “If you take an extra step towards solving somebody else’s problem it could be personal it could be work, it will go a long long way in building a business based on loyalty and commitment. The next big thing is technology as it helps you go beyond what humans can do. You build on it to know where things may go wrong.”
On the importance of live shipment visibility…
“Being able to track shipment easily and have real-time visibility is extremely important today. You can move a product faster when you know what exactly is happening where and you can even minimise the risk of a shipment getting stuck.”
“GoComet’s shipment tracking portal has made it easy to get visibility over shipments. Now even if a shipment gets delayed we know where it is which offers some amount of relief which was not possible earlier.”
He added, “with the help of GoComet, we are monitoring the status of each shipment live and It isn’t something new that we are doing but we have expanded it to the full gamut of business.”
“The question is do you want to do new tools now? At this point, everyone is stretched. Not many organizations will be looking at trying new options unless it is necessary for them. They wouldn’t adopt things that are time-consuming because at this point they need to see immediate results.”
The more scope you create for a shipment to be out of your control, bigger the risk you carry. If you reduce the time in which your shipment is out of your control by monitoring the movement and informing your clients then lesser the risk, he added.
“One good thing about Glenmark is that we have not got stuck in old practices and always looked for new and better ways to do things.”
Evolution of medical supply chains post-COVID in terms of digital transformation
“I think the medical supply chains will evolve faster as compared to the other industries because the pharma industry cannot afford to stop production and hence, we have to evolve. Digitization is inevitable and will accelerate in the days to come.”
Mr Reddy asserted that the pharma industry may even set the trends for the rest of the industries to follow later.
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