According to Yossi Sheffi, professor at MIT and director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, supply chain is typically the “asphalt of the road” —that is, when it works, there’s no need to talk about it.
MIT SCM ‘00 grad Marc Boyle’s company, Boyle Transportation is cited in the Wall Street Journal for its role in vaccine distribution in the U.S.
“Moving vaccines and other pharmaceutical products with strict temperature requirements is a delicate business. Carriers that specialize in such shipments typically provide what is known as temperature-validated service. Sensors and other devices monitor conditions inside the trailer and record data to confirm that the temperature remains within a certain range.
The vaccination effort that has kicked off will rely on a sprawling chain of people, processes and connections that will all have to work to make the campaign successful. The mass mobilization is one of the largest in the U.S. since the country’s factories were repurposed during World War II, the WSJ’s Sarah Krouse, Jared S. Hopkins, and Anna Wilde Mathews write, and relies on factory workers, truck drivers, pilots, pharmacists and health-care workers, among others.
Pandemic plus holidays? That equals a huge increase in online shopping and about 800 million more packages to be delivered than last year. But shipping companies and merchants that aren’t Amazon aren’t handling it all that well.
Dr. Yossi Sheffi, an MIT professor who specializes in supply chain management, said reduced air travel is going to impact items imported from overseas, like iPhones and computer chips. “I would expect problems in stuff that usually flies. Anything that is expensive and small flies,” Dr. Sheffi said.Sheffi recently published a book—”The New (Ab)Normal—which examines how COVID-19 has disrupted the global supply chain.
Ahead of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Prof. Yossi Sheffi comments on one of the most widely discussed issues in the campaign: trade relations between the U.S. and China. He writes:
The Trump administration’s aggressive stance toward China has compounded uncertainty on U.S.-China trade relations. In considering how the presidential elections may affect the flow of international trade, companies should avoid the accepted wisdom.
In his new book The New (Ab)Normal: Reshaping Business and Supply Chain Strategy Beyond Covid-19, published today, MIT CTL Director Prof. Yossi Sheffi maps how companies grappled with the chaos of the Covid-19 pandemic and how they can survive and thrive as the crisis subsides. Sheffi pays particular attention to supply chain's role in helping companies manage and recover from the pandemic.
MIT CTL Deputy Director Jim Rice wrote an article in Harvard Business Review along with Federico Caniato and Antonella Moretto of the School of Management of Politecnico di Milano.
Yossi Sheffi on China's position in the global trade ecosystem in the aftermath of the pandemic:
The innovative omni-channel supply chain models that have reshaped many parts of the retail industry continue to evolve in response to market changes. One of these changes is the increasing demand for grocery products ordered online, a trend reinforced by the COVID-19 pandemic that imposed restrictions on the use of physical stores for grocery shopping.
When you think about it, the spread of COVID-19 operates a lot like a supply chain. Ken Cottrill discusses looking at the outbreak in these terms:
To stop the spread of the virus, we must ensure that its supply chain fails. We can secure failure by using disruptors to prevent deliveries of the supply chain’s deadly freight. But not disruptors such as adverse weather that derail product supply chains. These are special disruptors that include masks, quarantines, and social distancing.
MIT CTL Director Prof. Yossi Sheffi reflects on one major difficulty of virtual communication in this moment:
COVID-19’s lockdowns have required people to replace much of the in-person communication they conducted at work — as well as with customers and suppliers — with virtual meetings on platforms such as Zoom, Teams, and Hangout. When the coronavirus crisis subsides, will people return to physical meeting places or cling to the virtual equivalents they have become familiar with?
Chris Mejía Argueta, Alexis Bateman, and Ken Cottrill detail a new trend in food supply chains:
The COVID-19 crisis is shining a light on the vulnerabilities of food supply chains as well as opportunities to develop inventive ways to deliver fresh foods like fruit and vegetables from farm to table.
Yossi Sheffi speaks with CIO Journal and Wall Street Journal.
“Given these constraints,” wrote MIT professor Yossi Sheffi, “the words of General Dwight Eisenhower ring true: Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
Joseph Coughlin writes: Everyone wants an answer to one question — and they want it now. When do we get back to normal? It has been three months. Politicians and pundits argue. Experts debate. Still no answer. Everyone wants an answer to one question — and they want it now. When do we get back to normal? It has been three months. Politicians and pundits argue. Experts debate. Still no answer. Get over it. There is no getting back to normal. There is only a new normal — one that has been coming long before COVID-19.
Yossi Sheffi writes: When companies cannot meet the full demands of their customers, leaders need to set clear decision criteria and the mechanisms to back them up. The COVID-19 pandemic has upended normal life and many supply chains. Between hoarding (such as toilet paper), unexpected demand surges (such as yeast, for baking), and spot supply shortages (because of factories or warehouses closed due to infection or mandate), some products are in short supply.
Christopher Mejía Argueta speaks with Univison about the current state of the food and grocery supply chains. Watch below (in Spanish):
When the coronavirus began to spread, it was common for grocery stores to limit toilet paper to one package per customer. Now some stores are placing caps on packages of beef, pork, and chicken. Yossi Sheffi, director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, talks to host Krys Boyd [of NPR's Think podcast] about how COVID-19 is impacting the U.S. food supply chain and what that means for your family’s shopping list.
Kai Trepte, Jim Rice, and Walid Klibi discuss how sales and operations planning can be adapted to be more resilient in the face of disruption:
Most sales and operations planning (S&OP) processes do a good job of increasing supply chain efficiencies and reducing costs. But they often don't handle major disruptions well. Here's how to make the process more resilient.
Joseph F. Coughlin writes: COVID-19 is shaping Gen Z's attitudes toward all institutions, government, employers, experts & brands. The contagion is also forging Gen Z's view of traditions, having children, retirement even globalization. COVID-19's impact isn't in a year or two, it will be in decades, and Gen Z is its vector. My daughter stares into the screen. This is not just another TikTok moment. She is in her high school English class; this is education, COVID-19 style. Screens have taken over the classroom and in no sense has their invasion stopped there.
Alexis Bateman and Ken Cottrill write,
Companies have long known that visibility into the workplace practices of far-flung offshore suppliers is an essential component of supply chain risk management. Many enterprises lack that visibility, even though it is becoming increasingly important across global supply chains. The COVID-19 crisis is now making it clear that workplace conditions closer to home may need to come under similar scrutiny.
Christopher Mejía Argueta and Alexis Bateman are quoted in Vice. “The empty shelves will continue for a while. said Christopher Mejía Argueta, a research scientist at the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics. But if I have someone in front of me who is going to start panicking about the empty shelves, what I would tell that person is, 'you don't need to worry.
Yossi Sheffi, director of [the Center for Transportation & Logistics] at MIT, believes the U.S. food supply system has performed “miraculously” during the pandemic.
"You may not be able to get the cut you like … so you’ll get a different cut," says Sheffi. "Let me be clear, there are spot shortages here and there. What the supply chains (are) experiencing are unprecedented changes in demand."
Alexis Bateman, director of the MIT Sustainable Supply Chains program, said
"Empty shelves in supermarkets have pushed consumers to look locally for their food — as evidenced by a surge in community-supported agriculture. It’s a clear opportunity for consumers ‘to double down on farmers' markets and locally produced food."