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Free Platform Helps Manufacturers Target Supply Chain Problems

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Every business within the manufacturing industry has to deal with one particular challenge: maintaining their supply chain. In a national or worldwide situation, from a tornado to a trade restriction, the ability to secure necessary supplies is one of the first things threatened. A global pandemic is no different. Fortunately, a company has developed a free tool to help manufacturers spot and correct vulnerabilities within their supply chains.

COVID-19 Hotspots Negatively Impact Supply Chains

Every product has its own bill of materials—a list of the necessary components and raw materials needed to make it. The more complex the product, the longer and more complex this list may be. (Medical ventilators, for example, may contain nearly two thousand different parts.) The items on this list may not all come from the same manufacturer, making certain parts more difficult to source in a crisis than others. As COVID-19 hotspots pop up, getting needed parts and materials is more of a challenge than ever.

The novel coronavirus is estimated to have an impact on supply chains that has been unseen since the likes of World War II. Because of the virus' risk of contagion, unpredictability, and the fact that even young, healthy people are at significant risk of contracting and transmitting the disease, many businesses and local governments have chosen to close. In some cases, COVID-19 outbreaks have left small businesses without enough employees to continue operating. In cases where companies haven't temporarily shut down, many have had to furlough employees due to a sharp decrease in demand. For manufacturers trying to order supplies, this can spell disaster.

For example, a company that produces steel might be in an area hit hard by the disease. This could cause them to shut down. If a company that makes parts for the automotive industry can't get the steel they need, their production might slow to a crawl. As a result, their customers won't get the parts they need, and the process continues all the way up the chain.

Assent Compliance's COVID-19 Supply Chain Impact Map

Ottawa company Assent Compliance operates an online data exchange that allows companies to manage large, complex supply chains. As COVID-19 began negatively impacting many of their clients, they saw the need to create a pandemic-specific platform for helping companies keep their supply lines running.

The World Health Organization has been collecting data on the novel coronavirus, identifying hotspots as they arise. This new platform allows manufacturers to see which portions of their supply chains are being affected. Since Assent Compliance already had much of the necessary data—including the locations of over 500,000 suppliers—all that was needed was to combine this with the WHO data, and conclude who was likely to suffer supply shortages, and where.

How the Platform Works

Manufacturers who want to participate just need to visit the company's website and submit their information. A company representative will then contact them, and guide them through uploading all of the necessary data. The platform then uses this to generate an impact map and a table, showing where the supplies on the bill of materials originate, how many COVID-19 cases are in that area, the risk of disruption, and suggested actions to prevent problems. The tool is completely free for everyone, even non-customers.

Other Apps Helping Businesses Through the Pandemic

Supply chain disruptions aren't the only risk businesses face from COVID-19, of course. Infections among employees can negatively impact business continuity, as well. Pegasystems initially developed an app for hospitals to use to keep track of employees who either called out sick, or took leave without calling, so they could ensure that every shift was adequately covered. Their app helps employees gauge their risk of coronavirus exposure, and this information is shared with their employer to gauge how to best manage that risk within the company.

Changing recommendations is another challenge that businesses face. As the situation evolves, organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization update their recommendations to help minimize the impact of COVID-19. With businesses closed and employees furloughed, figuring out when it's safe to resume normal operations is on the forefront of many peoples' minds. Bravo developed an app specifically to connect people to the most recent health guidelines, tailored for each business sector, helping companies determine when it's safe to reopen.

COVID-19 has shaken the world from top to bottom, exposing weaknesses in business and government operations in the process. The ones who come out of this the strongest will be the ones who can adapt to this risky, rapidly-changing climate. With the aid of data from the WHO and CDC, these apps help businesses spot potential vulnerabilities and make the right decisions.