Efficient Plant June 2020 - 6

column | implementations

Manage
Your Chain
During a
Pandemic

Dr. Klaus M. Blache
Univ. of Tennessee Reliability
and Maintainability Center
(RMC)

Focus on your supply chain during an
extended crisis. It could make or break
your operations.

Based in Knoxville, Klaus M. Blache is director
of the Reliability & Maintainability Center
at the Univ. of Tennessee, and a research
professor in the College of Engineering.
Contact him at kblache@utk.edu.

6

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EP2006implementations.indd 6

P

ANDEMICS AND OTHER
global crises can wreak havoc on
supply chains. Some products
remain plentiful and easy to acquire and
others rapidly become limited or nonexistent. Even worse is that it's difficult, at
best, to predict supply-chain dynamics.
The reasons vary. Some materials are
depleted due to increased needs, but some
disappear when people stock up because
of uncertainty, not unlike trades that don't
trust the parts storeroom system. In many
cases the raw materials aren't in short
supply. The demand predictions are off
because of erratic buying behavior.
Another factor is that people are not
available to do the work or workplaces do
not/cannot adapt to demand changes and/
or safe work practices. Some companies
produce more to meet people-caused peak
demands, just like storerooms having to
replenish a large shortage, when in fact
they are just being held by trades elsewhere.
What's needed is a balanced focus on
efficiency and resilience to maximize risk
avoidance.
Debra Yorkman is Vice President at one
of the Reliability & Maintainability Center
member companies, SDI, Bristol, PA (sdi.
com), a digital supply-chain-solutions firm.
She has summarized how supplies should
be managed in extended-crisis situations:
	 View and manage materials normally
considered to be commodities as essential
or operations essential. These items include
critical machine spares, PPE, and items
that are required for employee safety and
plant operations, including paper products.
	 Accelerate IIoT technology implementation to mitigate risk of future pandemics
on plant operations and production.
	 Establish or update a risk-management
plan related to your MRO supply chain.

	 Formally identify and manage critical
spares and essential supplies, particularly
those manufactured overseas.
	 Aggressively manage PPE and essential
supplies.
	 Develop a full understanding of your
tail spend. An extended tail creates additional risk in supply-chain reliability. Tail
spends are low-dollar items that are too
small for procurement and/or too infrequent to be included in a catalog. Cumulatively they can represent a significant cost.
	 Reconsider inventory and safety stock,
re-set replenishment points, and re-evaluate min/max triggers, especially as lean/
just-in-time inventories have proven to be
a risk multiplier.
	 Delegate purchase authority to additional employees, loosening controls and
lengthy approval processes, and consider
online marketplaces as a source for tail
items and spot buys.
	 Keep supplies secure and reduce waste
by staffing your storeroom at all times,
installing cloud-based cameras/monitoring
systems, and locking away high-demand
items.
	 Consider additive manufacturing/3D
printing as an alternate source for stockedout items with long lead times or where
supply is no longer commercially available.
	 Initiate capital projects to retrofit
equipment and reduce reliance on customized critical parts.
Developing risk-minimizing strategies
has never been more important. Maximize
quick response and flexibility throughout
your tiered suppliers and be able to shift
locations quickly, if needed. Crisis situations should trigger a review of where you
are outsourced/what should stay
in-country and what should never be
out of internal control. EP

JUNE 2020

5/27/20 4:55 PM


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Efficient Plant June 2020

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