BSMA leadership comments on COVID-19 supply chain impact

April 23, 2020

Team BSMA

The Bio Supply Management Alliance was born for the need to create a worldwide community of operations and supply chain management leaders and professionals in the biotech, biopharma, and biomedical device industries.
Supply Chain Leader, Vice President, Global Supply Chain, Biopharmaceutical Company, April 8 2020
[Names prefer to remain anonymous]

This leading Bay Area Biopharmaceutical Company has plugged into several benchmarking initiatives focused on COVID-19. One of these is sponsored by MIT’s Center for Transportation, and features regular calls. The Center provides information on best case and worst case scenarios that member companies can incorporate into their planning.

The Vice President of Global Supply Chain for the Company commented that, currently, the practical best case points to a start to return to regular economic activity at the end of May. The worst case postulates second and third wave infections and extends long into the future.

“We are watching Wuhan, South Korea, and Taiwan [to help determine best or worst case for planning purposes]”, explained the Supply Chain Leader. “But we don’t want more than three planning scenarios.”

Other activities this Biopharmaceutical Company has taken to manage its supply chain include weekly supply reviews plus twice-weekly end-to-end reviews. One focus of these reviews is demand signal anomalies. An example of this might be obstacles in the clinic. So even if a shipment was made in agreement with the forecast, unexpected trial events can point to demand anomalies.

“It’s very important to stay connected with logistics and other partners,” he said.

Biopharmaceutical Company attempts to develop end-to-end strategic suppliers, but also maintains alternative sources of goods.

Another area of concern in the overall supply chain, Supply Chain Leader noted, is workforce industry availability due to various quarantines around the world. He expects this to impact small molecule production in 2021.

Regarding biologics workforce availability, force majeure has caused the company to ship under quarantine in order to get materials to the next node.

At Biopharmaceutical Company’s own production facilities, skeleton teams manage the run and testing rates, prioritizing for product availability.

One irony of the COVID-19 situation is that the company’s past investment in extra inventory is now paying dividends. When the inventory build began, however, the company was criticized for having too much on hand.

The biggest challenge nowadays is import/export since Biopharmaceutical Company uses “all white glove” shipping. All the red lane is now shared, and the company is buying others’ capacity so that no patient goes without a therapy. But locating and securing such capacity takes a lot of creativity.

Supply Chain Leader does see the industry and the country coming out from the COVID-19 pandemic. His goal is to bring data together to automate supplier status, production capacity, and more.

“We are small enough to manually analyze the data,” Supply Chain Leader commented, “but we need to have digitized end-to-end data that is visible in real time.”

As for recommendations on working from home, he stated: “Get out for fresh air…be patient with the family.”

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