The global supply chain and manufacturing production are a couple of examples of mundane, day-to-day issues and processes that most people take for granted until something happens to throw the system into disarray. That something, of course, is COVID-19, and the pandemic that shut down economies of the major industrial countries. There are plenty of examples of sudden shortages of products, goods, and services brought by closures, but the most critical were in healthcare. Hospitals and medical providers suddenly had to deal with shortages of critical goods, from sophisticated medical devices and their parts to basic personal protection equipment. Just like that, everyone rediscovered the supply chain that was now broken.
China and politics again came front and center, and the vulnerabilities of producing so many products in one region were exposed. So what happens now? Some manufacturers are diversifying their supply chains, moving operations to even cheaper hubs in Southeast Asia or Mexico. There is an effort to reshore some work back to the U.S. But a large volume of work will still remain in China.
“What we have seen, what we think will continue to happen will be a regionalization,” said Terry Haber, managing director of St. Onge, a supply change strategy and logistics firm. Haber is one of three industry representatives who are dealing with the issue and participated in Mechanical Engineering’s sixth webinar on how to move forward after the pandemic, “Rebuilding the Medical Device Supply Chain.” In other words, manufacturers may continue to source parts and product in one region, but expand the number of vendors they use; or continue to work in one country, but find other…continue reading article