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ASCM Insights

Rapid Responsiveness and Innovation


As people everywhere confront the terrible effects of coronavirus, supply chains are adapting and stepping up to ease the impact. In addition to countless manufacturers producing around the clock for essential industries, many are retooling to provide first responders and health care workers with vital equipment. Others are reaching communities affected by the outbreak by manufacturing supplies, donating space for hospitals and much more.

Above all, health care systems worldwide are experiencing a severe shortage of ventilators. Companies including General Motors (GM); Vauxhall, a unit of France’s Peugeot SA; and engineering firm Meggitt are pivoting to build the life-saving devices.

GM and three of its parts suppliers spent last weekend brainstorming ways to boost production of ventilators at an Indiana plant that normally makes small electronic automotive components. The company is partnering with medical device company Ventec Life Systems for guidance. Vauxhall, which has ceased car production, plans to make ventilator components using 3D printing. And Meggitt is leading a group of firms that will produce tens of thousands of ventilators.

Meanwhile, the production of facemasks and other medical supplies — which had taken place mainly in China — is going domestic again. “It’s not enough to just stockpile,” Medicom Group CEO Ronald Reuben told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s very important to have your own local production.” His company has boosted the creation of masks across all of its global facilities.

In addition, nine American fashion and textile companies — including Fruit of the Loom, Hanesbrands and Parkdale — are collectively producing medical-grade face masks. The effort to build a supply chain came together “virtually overnight,” led by North Carolina-based Parkdale, the largest yarn spinner in the country.

French blue jeans producer 1083 was approached by a group of doctors with written instructions for fabricating makeshift sanitary masks. Within mere hours, the workshop was churning them out.

Perfume makers, brewers, distillers and others are supplying hand sanitizer, something that has been missing from store shelves for weeks now. Givenchy and Christian Dior have switched from fragrances to sanitizers.

Anheuser-Busch is producing and distributing sanitizer under the guidance of the American Red Cross. French spirits giant Pernod Ricard SA is supplying alcohol for others to use in production and making its own sanitizer, as is The British Honey Company, which makes gin infused with honey. “An alcohol-based sanitizer is just vodka or gin at 70% [alcohol by volume],” explains Chief Executive Michael Williams.

Finally, with tourism plummeting, airlines are redeploying fleets to ensure the flow of essential goods. Deutsche Lufthansa AG, which has suspended 95% of flights, will make deliveries using grounded passenger jets. And two luxury hotels in Israel, Dan Panorama and Dan Hotel, have been repurposed into quarantine shelters.

ASCM is also responding

With so much uncertainty, it has never been more important for supply chains to be flexible and creative. Physical storefronts may be closed, but businesses can and should find new avenues to serving their customers. Here at ASCM, one way we are doing this is by offering our members and the supply chain community free online education.

Now through April 30, you will enjoy complimentary access to APICS Basics of Distribution and Logistics within Principles on Demand. This curriculum introduces the foundations and operations of distribution channel design, inventory management, packaging and material handling, transportation management, warehouse management, and much more.

This is a simple way ASCM can help supply chain professionals as they strive to mitigate the disruptions caused by the pandemic. Take advantage of this valuable offering today.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted through

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