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ASCM Insights

Honoring Supply Chain Heroes

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I recently came across the hashtag #supplychainheroes while reading through ASCM’s LinkedIn feed. Talk about inspiring. The COVID-19 pandemic has flooded supply chains with obstacles unlike anything we have seen before. However, amid the deluge, industry professionals and their organizations are stepping up with some truly superhuman efforts.

Many business leaders have made the courageous decision to overhaul their normal operations in order meet urgent health care needs. One of these is John Carrington, president of Columbia, South Carolina-based 3D printing company ZVerse. “Just a few weeks ago, Carrington was looking at the stock market’s collapse, mulling over which of his 20-person staff to lay off and seeing investors bail on another round of funding,” writes Marcus Baram for Fast Company.

Today, ZVerse is a key player in the battle against the pandemic, and Carrington is hiring dozens of new employees to keep up with demand for millions of reusable face shields. “We started to get frantic requests from hospital administrators and even hospital CEOs, which is very uncommon,” Carrington says in the article. “The first request was from a local hospital that knew that we did 3D printing, which needed 5,000 face shields that same day.”

Carrington and his team finished the design within two hours. The following day, a county agency asked ZVerse to make 10,000 face shields. And the day after that, a hospital system requested 50,000.

Meanwhile, a few states away, more than 80 factory workers at Philadelphia-based Braskem America were volunteering for production plant “live-ins.” For 28 consecutive days, these team members worked to produce a critical material used in personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline health care workers.

Braskem America makes polypropylene, which is used in medical gowns, disinfectant wipes and face masks. “The teams worked in rotating 12-hour shifts to keep production running to meet the surging demand, while remaining isolated on-site,” writes Julia LaRoche for Yahoo Finance. “The plants already include kitchens and locker rooms, so the company provided air mattresses, groceries, prepared food deliveries, iPads, and increased high-speed internet access for Zoom calls with family and friends.”

CEO Mark Nikolich told LaRoche that his first priority was to secure the health and safety of his team members. Braskem also paid employees for both 12-hour shifts, on and off, while they were on-site.

Just up the road in Jessup, Maryland, Acme Paper & Supply Director of Customer Satisfaction Maggie Duerr was running a warehouse that stocks everything from hand sanitizer to isolation gowns to disinfectant wipes. She has been integral in sourcing hundreds of thousands of PPE and other urgently needed products.

“When trucks roll in with only 50% of our order, because suppliers can’t keep up with demand, we allocate products to appropriate customers first,” Duerr told The Baltimore Sun, adding that health care, nursing home and school accounts are absolutely at the forefront.

“I am so proud to be in a different form of front line during this pandemic,” Duerr says. “But above all, we really want business to be back to normal.”

Highlight your heroes

When we think of heroes, we think of selflessness, courage, humility, compassion, extraordinary commitment — and now, people who are literally putting themselves on the line for the greater good. Do you know a supply chain hero who embodies these traits? Has your organization pioneered new methods and processes in order to produce essential supplies? ASCM is compiling stories of supply chain heroism to share on LinkedIn, Facebook and SCM Now magazine. I hope you will tell us your story using #supplychainheroes and #ASCM in your post.

Lastly, the ASCM Awards of Excellence recognize superior performance and dedication to advancing the field of supply chain management. The deadline has been extended to May 31, submissions are free, and you may enter in multiple categories. Submit an entry today to recognize a trailblazing corporation or outstanding supply chain professional.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer at ASCM, the largest nonprofit association for supply chain and the global leader in supply chain organizational transformation and innovation. Prior to this, he was the managing director for the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. His leadership roles have included project management, business process redesign, and individual and organizational alignment. Eshkenazi may be contacted through editorial@ascm.org.

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