The Effect of Coronavirus on the Design and Management of Production Processes and Supply Chains Harvard Case Solution & Analysis

The Effect of Corona-virus on the Design and Management of Production Processes and Supply Chains Case Solution

Three types of companies and businesses were identified during this pandemic. The first type is the ones who were prepared to mitigate the impact of an uncertain event, the second are the ones who were prepared to deal with any uncertain event, and lastly those that scrambled underneath the pressure of uncertainty. The pandemic 2019 has forced many companies to overlook and rethink of their businesses and their strategies.The companies that were better prepared to deal with the impact of any kind of uncertain situation were the ones that survived and even flourished during the COVID-19. They were pre-planned and their risk management and disaster management plans were on point. Successful supply chain risk management strategies and business continuity strategies paid off for some of the industrial giants and even though the whole world was facing lock-down; these companies flourished.

Some companies were better prepared to respond to any uncertain events. They established strong and friendly relationships with multiple suppliers across the globe. They performed specific actions based on their priorities. They invested in the supply chain plans and were already prepared to handle the supply chain-related issues. Many companies and firms-scrambled under pressure and were not able to cope up with the changing dynamics of the world during COVID-19. These companies were highly dependent on a single target market located at a single geographic location, and they dealt with only one supplier. Lack of visibility made them incapable of looking at the possible risks. They were not pre-planned and did not have any sort of risk management or business continuity strategy in place.

This pandemic has taught us the importance of designing successful plans and long term strategies to deal with uncontrollable situations. Developing successful business continuity and disaster recovery plans are the key for any company to survive in the face of uncertainties. While this pandemic may be the facilitator for the companies to reconsider their global supply chain, business continuity strategies and to adopt the digital network models. This all requires a long-term planning, and with the current pandemic still hovering over our heads; short term and immediate actions are required to be taken in order to respond to the ultimate challenges ahead of us.

COVID has spread in almost every part of the world up till now. Some geographies have it under control, while at some places; this pandemic is no way near its end. If any company or firm is operating in any highly affected region, or producing and or distributing in the affected regions and selling products inany of these areas; they should implement the following steps:

  • Teach employees about the symptoms of the disease and prevention techniques to help them stay protected.
  • Sanitize the workplace (if working from the office).
  • Prepare for an increased absence (employees might catch the virus and might need to quarantine for a minimum of 14 days).
  • Limit travel for staff members.
  • Promote the flexible working arrangements (the option to work from home).
  • Adopt IT and digital strategies.
  • Focus more on cash flow-management.
  • Focus more on workforce planning (which employee can work from home, which employee needs to come to the site compulsory)
  • Develop relations with the multiple suppliers.
  • Increase the available inventory space.
  • Update the inventory policies and stock raw materials, goods or products.
  • Prepare for the unplanned plant, site or office closures.
  • Perform the global scenario planning.
  • Understand the customer demand and its impact,precisely over your business.
  • Prepare for the potential channel or business shifts (modify business as per the times' demand).
  • Weigh the substitute inbound logistics possibilities.
  • Open multiple channels of communication with the customers (like social media accounts, online meeting platforms, 24/7 customer support).
  • Prepare to bounce back.

In response to the ongoing pandemic; the instant-emphasis for most of the supply chain businesses needs to be focused on improving the visibility and understanding of the risk related to the supply chain. If a firm, manufacturer or a company doesn’t have the visibility into the possible problems then they might be unable to prevent, stop or manage the damage from happening. To comprehend the underlying risks associated with the pandemic to supply chain or production management and get more clarity and visibility of the problem; the companies need to take the digital route. New approaches and solutions are adapting the technologies,such as:AI and machine learning.Companies should incorporate structured or unstructured data, and use databases to manage the supply networks more efficiently. Companies and manufacturers across the globe need to achieve an improved flexibility, collaboration and control.

New edge cutting technologies can help with the production, manufacturing and supply chain systems. Modern-day technologies, such as: AI, 3D printing, cyber-physical systems, etc. can aid in the development of the decentralized production systems. Digital manufacturing of products using new technologies, can be implemented to maintain the social distancing during the production process. Robots are used in many warehouses across the globe to load, unload, move or replace the items. Many of the hospitals have adopted the technology and are using it to deliver the medicines and monitor the COVID critical patients as shown in figure 6. Drone technologies can be used to deliver the food supplies and medicines to the highly affected COVID areas, where it is not safe for an outsider to step in.

The epidemic or pandemic outbreaks last a damaging effect on the supply chains. The development of new and different strategies to predict such impacts,can support the performance of the supply chain and lessen any opposing-effects. A 2020 research presented a generalized framework for the supply chain management during the disruption times(Ivanov, 2020). Figure 7 below shows the framework. This bottom to up framework integrates the technology and planning into the supply chain model. The model or framework is used by the smart AI algorithms in the cyber supply-chain and in the physical chain,which are used by the managers.


COVID is the new normal until a vaccine or successful medicine comes to the market. Companies, manufacturers and supply chains need to learn to live with it now. This pandemic has taught us that pandemics and epidemics can seriously cause-chaos in the supply chains, manufacturing and production business around the globe. In this research, we presented an analysis of the impacts that outbreaks can have over the supply chains. PPE and other medical equipment’s production was overwhelming during the pandemic.Major industry manufacturers, for example: Ford Motors, started to use their manufacturing plants to design ventilators etc. It is observed that an effective planning coupled with the use of technology were the factors that saved some companies and manufacturers from incurring unrecoverable  loss during the trade and travel ban....................

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