The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of supply chains to everyone; for everything that we eat, drink and use every day. The availability of goods ranging from toilet paper to PPE (personal protective equipment) was impacted by the effect of the pandemic on global supply chains. The spotlight was put on supply chain management; the vulnerability of global supply chains was revealed; and organisations that had failed to prioritise risk management and build resilience into their supply chains may not be in business today.
For those companies that weathered the storm, the focus is now on rebuilding businesses and economies. According to SAPICS, Southern Africa’s Professional Body for Supply Chain Management, this must include transforming supply chains to withstand future disruptions and developing skills in supply chain management. One of the greatest supply chain challenges to face the profession is also looming as planning for the roll out of a Covid-19 vaccine is already beginning before the vaccine is even available, asserts SAPICS president Keabetswe Mpane.
The annual SAPICS Conference, Africa’s leading knowledge sharing and networking event for supply chain professionals, is more important than ever before, she states. Mpane explains that it will take the form of a virtual event this year - on 23 and 24 November 2020. “SAPICS will not let COVID-19 deprive the profession of our annual get together and all the crucial learnings delivered by the SAPICS conference,” she stresses.
Mpane notes that the event will not be just another webinar. “In addition to an exceptional line up of speakers – including internationally acclaimed supply chain experts – there will be networking opportunities. From virtual booths to VIP meeting rooms, the ‘FLOOR’ virtual conferencing platform that we are using will enable delegates to meet fellow supply chain professionals from across industry and the world.”
This year’s SAPICS Conference will feature a feast of eminent world-renowned speakers including Dr John Gattorna, the ever-popular futurist and author Sean Culey, and demand driven adaptive enterprise expert Carol Ptak. Internationally acclaimed supply chain guru Dr John Gattorna will discuss his futuristic approach to designing genuine customer-centric supply chains. Based in Sydney, Australia, Gattorna is one of the world’s leading supply chain thought leaders. He has helped to shape the thinking, understanding and practice of logistics and supply chain management globally for more than 40 years.
Supply chain technologies – including digitisation and artificial intelligence – are also on the agenda for the reimagined 2020 SAPICS Conference. “SAPICS has lined up powerful case studies on how this technology has been instrumental in helping businesses to navigate COVID-19,” reveals Mpane. “Technologies like these can no longer be ignored if organisations are to survive and thrive. Businesses must leverage technology to build more responsive, resilient supply chains with the improved visibility necessary to mitigate risk and withstand disruptions.”
Healthcare supply chains will take centre stage, with learnings that will be shared including how private sector collaboration can strengthen public health supply chains in Africa. “We must ensure that healthcare supply chains in particular are strong and resilient before we are faced with another disruption like Covid-19,” Mpane states. “The pandemic disrupted health supply chains, leading to shortages of critical pharmaceutical components like the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in medicines, as well as certain pharmaceutical packaging like tubes and ampoules,” she says. “The public sector and SOEs in general should be looking for ways to collaborate with the private sector and can learn from the public health case studies lined up for SAPICS 2020,” she adds.