A Supply Chain Christmas
Written by Amanda Strouse
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the land,
Not a worker was working, not an office was manned;
Except for the North Pole, where elves worked at the speed of light,
Planning, tracking and tracing Santa’s route for the night,
Down south, eyes were shut, dreaming of presents arriving so quick,
For it was the job of these supply chain management elves and Saint Nick;
After many hours sliding down chimneys and flying across the globe,
Santa, full of cookies, returned to the North Pole and hung up his robe;
But before he was able to celebrate and take a break,
Eli the supply chain management elf noticed a shipping mistake;
“There was a delivery mix-up, please accept my apology,
“I just found it thanks to Santa’s tracking and tracing technology;
“Kids in an orphanage will wake up and cry and pant,
“Because their toys were accidently dropped off at a car manufacturing plant!”
“Oh no!” Said Santa. “How will we get this taken care of tonight?”
Eli got brave and volunteered to switch the freight;
“Rudolph, the head air freight reindeer, will guide me through the dark sky,
“And we will return the toys while everyone sleeps,” said Eli;
In an instant Eli was gone, Rudolf leading the way with his shining nose,
At the car shop in Detroit, Eli gathered the wrapped toys, stuffed animals and clothes;
They flew to the orphanage in Los Angeles and landed softly on the house,
Eli replaced the car parts with the toys as quietly as a mouse;
And after the car parts were brought back safely to Detroit,
Eli and Rudolf sighed with relief and happiness for their exploit;
At the North Pole, they were greeted with cheers and applause,
Even happier than the supply chain management elves was Santa Claus;
He said, “I can’t thank you enough for fixing that Christmas mess!”
Humble Eli chuckled, “We couldn’t have done it without our tracing technology and Santa’s GPS!”
DHL Claim Multi-Sector Collaboration Key to Fighting COVID
Since January, global logistics leader DHL has distributed more than 200 million doses of the COVID vaccine to 120+ countries around the globe. While the US and UK recently rolled out immunisation plans to most citizens, countries with less developed infrastructure still desperately need more doses. In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which currently has one of the highest per-capita immunisation rates, the government set up storage facilities to cover domestic and international demand. But storage, as we’ve learned, is little help if you can’t transport the goods.
This is where logistics leaders such as DHL make their impact. The company built over 50 new partnerships, bilateral and multilateral, to collaborate with pharmaceutical and private sector firms. With more than 350 DHL centres pressed into service, the group operated 9,000+ flights to ship the vaccine where it needed to go.
With new pandemic knowledge, DHL just released its “Revisiting Pandemic Resilience” white paper, which examined the role of logistics and supply chain companies in handling COVID-19. As Thomas Ellman, Head of Clinical Trials Logistics at DHL, said: “The past one year has highlighted the importance of logistics and supply chain management to manage the pandemic, ensure business continuity and protect public health. It has also shown us that together we are stronger”.
Multisector partnerships, DHL said, enabled rapid, effective vaccine distribution. While international scientists developed a vaccine in record time—five times faster than any other vaccine in history—manufacturers ramped up production and logistics teams rolled out distribution three times faster than expected. When commercial routes faced backups, logistics operators worked with military officers to transport vaccines via helicopters and boats.
In the UAE, the public-private HOPE Consortium distributed billions of COVID-19 doses to its civilians as well as other countries in need by partnering with commercial organisations such as DHL. For the first time, apropo for an unprecedented pandemic, logistics companies made strong connections with public health and government.
“While the race against the virus continues, leveraging the power of such collaborations and data analytics will be key”, said Katja Busch, Chief Commercial Officer DHL and Head of DHL Customer Solutions & Innovation. “We need to remain prepared for high patient and vaccine volumes, maintain logistics infrastructure and capacity, while planning for seasonal fluctuations by providing a stable and well-equipped platform for the years to come”.
How Do We Sustain Immunisation?
By the end of 2021, experts estimate that we need approximately 10 billion doses of vaccines—many of which will be shipped to areas of the world, such as India, South Africa, and Brazil, that lack significant infrastructure. This is perhaps the greatest divide between countries that have rolled out successful immunisation programmes and those that have not. As Busch noted, “the UAE’s significant investments in creating robust air, sea, and land infrastructure facilitated logistics and vaccine distribution, helping us keep supply chains resilient”.
Neither is the novel coronavirus a one-time affair. If predictions hold, COVID will be similar to seasonal colds or the flu: here to stay. When fall comes around each year, governments will need to vaccinate the world as quickly as possible to ensure long-term immunisation against the virus. This time, logistics companies must be better prepared.
Yet global immunisation, year after year, is no small order. To keep reinfection rates low and slow the spread of COVID, governments will likely need 7-9 billion annual doses of the vaccine to meet that mark. And if DHL’s white paper is any judge of success, multi-sector supply chain partnerships will set the gold standard.