It is now over a year ago since – with the global credit crisis still relatively fresh in people’s minds – the world suddenly went into lockdown. The COVID-19 virus created a crisis within many nations’ healthcare systems, plus the economy came close to meltdown: shops were forced to closed, factories shut down and supply chains suffered severe disruption. The current crisis has not yet passed, but it will; crises come and go. In the ‘Ready for the Next Crisis’ project, Involvation is collaborating with multiple partners to explore how companies can become better prepared for future disruptions.
Alfons Willemsen, a partner at Involvation, explains: “Unfortunately, we saw once again that risk management tends to be placed in the ‘important but not urgent’ category… until something major happens and it suddenly becomes urgent after all. And then it’s time to panic. How can we all ensure that we don’t allow ourselves to nod off again after this crisis has passed? This partnership is driven by a shared desire to prevent that from happening.”
Learning from a crisis
What lessons can be learned from the current pandemic-related disruption, and what steps can businesses take so that they can react and respond faster in the future? Supply chain resilience is an organization’s ability to optimally absorb disruptions that happen anywhere in their network. In other words, it is about better preparation and adequate response in the event of a crisis in order to limit the negative impact and bounce back to the previous – or even better – level of performance as quickly as possible.
Data for crisis-proof companies
In the Ready for the Next Crisis project, Involvation is working together with companies from a wide range of sectors as well as Groningen University and Windesheim University of Applied Sciences to make the economy better prepared for the next crisis. The aim is to develop a tool that enables companies to not only identify their potential vulnerabilities, but also to evaluate whether they are well prepared for major supply chain disruptions and other crisis situations. Data gathered from companies will be used as the basis for developing a dashboard to serve as a benchmarking platform. This will help businesses to measure their performance against that of other similar organizations.
Not ‘one size fits all’ research
The researchers do not believe in a ‘one size fits all’ approach, which is why the context plays a key role – and that makes this project so unique. The research will cover various sectors (from food to automotive), various flows (e.g. of goods, cash and information) and the complexity of the end-to-end supply chain (e.g. ‘from farm to fork’ or ‘from mine to factory’). A total of 14 companies are taking part in case studies and workshops in order to actively contribute to the development of relevant tools, which will then be tested by a number of larger companies. There will also be a special version for SMEs: the Quick Resilience Scan.
Strong interest from the industry
The start of this project has been brought forward due to such strong interest from the companies themselves. It is being funded by TKI Dinalog, an organization that represents the Dutch government’s Top Sector Logistics. Involvation is working in conjunction with Groningen University and Windesheim University of Applied Sciences. The participating companies are Avebe, Bidfood, Bosch, Corbion, DSV, Philips, FrieslandCampina, Kruitbosch, Perfetti Van Melle, Rituals, Samsung, Scania, Swinkels Family Brewers and Teijin Aramid.