In brief

In brief

  • The foreseen impacts on global supply chains for distributing a highly-effective Covid-19 vaccine are immense.
  • The vaccine distribution requires supply chains to work smoothly including new ways of working, processes and investments to get the job done.
  • As always, we are discussing the trends and challenges in supply chain & operations in the 9th edition of Operations.Insights.
  • This time our thinking includes 12 articles, centered around the lead topic – Resilience.

Welcome to the 9th edition of Operations.Insights – a place to explore trends and issues we face in operations management – both today and tomorrow.

We all share one dream in these days … and this dream is about an agent – not James Bond in this case – but an active agent that treats COVID and helps our society to increase its RESILENCE. When I sat down to write this editorial in late November, a few companies had already announced that they had found a highly effective vaccine for COVID-19. The world gave a collective sigh of relief over the news that a vaccine was entering the final steps needed for licensing and distribution.

Unfortunately, licensing alone will not solve all the problems the world faces with this little protein. Getting the vaccine to all the people who need it in all parts of the world will be a huge effort for the world’s supply chains. Not only the physical logistics will need to be on point, but demand management, network setup, planning, production, transport management, global trade and final stocking will all require new ways of working, new processes, and new investments to get the job done properly. Distributing the vaccine will require a lot of “Fingerspitzengefühl” (the lead story in our mid-year edition).

IATA (The International Air Transport Association) has called the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine the largest and most complex global logistics operation ever undertaken. It’s not only due to the cooling and temperature control requirements for the vaccine, but also to issues like limited freight capacities and limited cooling infrastructure. The world will need some 15 million coolers, 15,000 domestic and international flights, thousands of climatized pharma trailers and billions of dollars in infrastructure investments. Such supply chain capabilities will become highly sought after – perhaps even constituting a backbone of future wealth.

For sure, this endeavor will keep us busy for the next months and years. In the meantime, there is no time to stand still. Just the opposite: We need to move forward quickly – issues we discuss in this Operations.Insights. Together with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Accenture has developed a supply chain stress test that is comparable to the one used in banking after the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008. The test can be used to help companies mitigate risks during a crisis. I am delighted to provide you a sneak preview of what this is about and how the test can help your company ensure resilience.

In this issue, you will also find articles on resilience in procurement, S&OP, digital manufacturing and of course the inevitable discussion about how supply chain and operations can gain from upcoming SAP S/4 transformations.

In addition, we introduce our industry-specific guest article. It is about the role of supply chains in enabling gene therapies. In this piece, you will find our perspective on the crucial supply chain characteristics for this new era of medicine.

I wish you an insightful read. As always, we are looking forward to discussing your feedback and challenges within the domains of supply chain, operations and sustainability.

Articles of the 9th Ops.Insights edition

Michael A. Meyer

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, Supply Chain & Operations DACH


COVID-19: The road map to resilience through logistics
COVID-19: Repurpose your supply chain for resilience
Zero-based Supply Chain: Accelerating COVID-19 recovery

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