Coronavirus Task Force Applying Supply Chain Management Principles – 3 Part Series

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APICS Milwaukee is excited to share this three-part series written by Greg Studer, CSCP, CPIM. Greg is an experienced supply chain professional in the Milwaukee area who recently earned his APICS CSCP certification. 

Part 1 - Coronavirus Task Force aligns supply chain needs with the overall strategy. 

While watching the Coronavirus Task Force daily briefings I cannot help but see the correlation to supply chain management principles found within the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) material.  

In this three-part series, I’ve outlined applicable CSCP modules that apply to the actions taken by President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force including aligning with business strategy, components of demand and supply chain improvement and best practices.

In part one, we will review the alignment with business strategy and how the task force has reviewed the overall strategy and objectives of their efforts.

Per the CSCP training module 1, the first step in supply chain management is to align with business strategy.

Step 1: Coronavirus Task Force reviews the overall strategy and objectives with the below actions.

  1. Slow down the spread of the Coronavirus. Each state Governor has the ability to enforce rules and Guidelines in their state and monitor the spread of the virus and report their findings back to the National Government.
  2. Each State was been asked to review their capabilities and what are their Supply levels are and what level are those supplies. High, Medium, Low, Critical.
  3. Each State, City, Township has its own Emergency Management Division.
  4. Identification of the National, State, Counties, City, and Hospital conditions and needs.
  5. Identify what manufacturers are capable of making needed Supplies in the USA and what supplies are only made outside of the USA.
  6. Keep a watch on the Global Risk. Gather as much information from other nations as possible, use that information to set up and review strategies and make adjustments where needed.

Step 2: Creating supply chain strategies.

  1. What supplies do states have a problem procuring? Task Force asked governors what they needed and told them the government will work on getting the supplies but in the meantime, they should also work at looking at getting supplies themselves in order to cut out the lead time and find closer sources.
  2. Communicating downstream. Review what each state, county, city, hospital has in stock and see if the material can be moved around to help those in need. Partnering with states, cities and hospitals to open the lines of communication.
  3. Partner with the states. How well is each State Emergency Management Division setup and are they prepared to put things into motion?
  4. Partnering with Manufacturers. Communicating upstream. What are the capacities of current manufacturers for medical supplies? The Task Force stepped in and told US suppliers that they must first fill the needs of the US. Requesting all manufactures in the US review if they could adjust their facilities to make supplies that are in need such as masks, gowns, ventilators, etc.

Step 3: The President’s Coronavirus Task Force has a large resource of knowledge.

  1. Vice President Pence is in charge of gathering up information and helping direct information flow. This is needed because of the vast size of this project and he is second in command and can inform the President of any main issues. This keeps both leaders in the loop in case one or the other gets the virus.
  2. Team of experts is assembled to help make decisions. Dr. Deborah Birx, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Robert Redfield, Seema Verma to name a few.
  3. The Pentagon and the United States military are ready to help out when needed.
    • Two hospital ships
    • Army Engineers erecting hospitals where needed
    • National Guard to help where needed

Step 4: Closing borders and reviewing global data.

  1. Closing the China border was a key to slowing down the virus.
  2. Reviewing Italy and Japan characteristics based on data and news important considerations for spreading of the virus including age of populations, China’s connection to owning 200 companies in northern Italy, cultural differences and open markets.

These are just a few supply chain management considerations that the Coronavirus Task Force had to set up and execute in a very short time period.  With a global pandemic, there is an incredible amount of information to be gathered and analyzed.  Some of the data early on was false or inconclusive. This is an extreme situation that is constantly changing with decisions made a month, week, day, or even hours ago needing to be changed and a new course taken.

In part two, we will look at the components of demand and how the Task Force applied supply chain management principles to forecasting, prioritizing, scheduling and constraints.

Wisconsin Manufacturers Helping During COVID-19

Many manufacturers in Wisconsin have shifted gears to help in the shortage of medical supplies in the fight against COVID-19.  

APICS Milwaukee is proud to serve the local community with supply chain education and information needed to be successful in today’s ever-changing world.

We are also proud of the Wisconsin manufacturers who are shifting gears to help produce medical equipment and supplies in the fight against COVID-19.

Read more below.

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The Wisconsin State Journal shared last week how many Wisconsin businesses are stepping up to shift and help with medical shortages due to COVID-19 summarized below.

  • Doundrins Distilling in Cottage Grove has shifted from making alcohol to hand sanitizer to help medical clinics and other organizations that have run out. Doundrins made about 30 gallons of hand sanitizer last week and is waiting to get the bottles properly labeled before they are distributed.

  • Midwest Prototyping, based in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, specializing in additive manufacturing for prototyping and low volume production has partnered with design firm Delve and the UW – Madison Makerspace to create a face shield to help combat the shortage. “We are trying to find ways to be part of the solution,” said Brian Ellison, business development manager for Midwest Prototyping. Midwest Prototyping is manufacturing the shields, and other companies have also picked up the design, including Ford Motor Co., which has halted production on vehicles and switched to making medical equipment in short supply.

  • UW School of Pharmacy’s Zeeh Pharmaceutical Experiment Station began delivering bottles of “Badger-ell,” the unofficial name of hand sanitizer the station is making, to UW Hospital, hospital spokesman Gian Galassi said.

  • In Lodi, Attwill Medical Solutions is shifting production from bandages to hand sanitizer. The company’s machines normally used to make a medicated gel applied to bandages can also manufacture hand sanitizer, director of business development Angus Jackson said.

  • Monterey Mills, a Janesville textile mill and Eder Flag in Oak Creek are teaming up to produce barrier masks for medical professionals and other organizations in need.  “Instead of sewing together the stars and stripes to make U.S. flags, we’re ready to help fill an urgent local and national need,” Jodi Goglio, chief operating officer of Eder Flag, said in a statement.

  • Fitchburg-based Promega and Aldevron, which has a production facility in Madison — are producing the materials used by pharmacologists to develop tests and treatments for COVID-19. Aldevron makes enzymes and proteins as well as other materials used by global labs to find solutions for the disease. At its Madison facility, the staff of about 40 are working to boost production in the coming weeks. “We’re going as fast as we can,” said Tom Foti, an executive with Aldevron. “The volume that they’re talking about outstrips any one company.”

  • GE Healthcare ramped up production at its Madison facility making ventilators and other vital medical equipment, a spokeswoman said. The members of the Machinist Union (IAM) Local 1406 who work at GE in Madison passed a one-year emergency contract extension to continue producing more machines for anesthesia, respiratory and infant care, according to a statement from the union. “This extension allows the company and union to work together to produce lifesaving ventilator equipment that will be used around the world to combat the virus,” said Joe Terlisner, business representative for IAM District 10. “Both union members and salaried workers will be working on the shop floor side-by-side in order to meet the unprecedented demands of this ever-evolving crisis.”

  • Yahara Bay Distillers in Fitchburg is continuing to use beverage-quality alcohol to make a high-proof vodka. The 140-proof vodka, named Just Vodka, equates to 70% alcohol — a bit under double the usual alcohol content of Yahara Bay’s vodkas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that level of alcohol content can kill viruses. They have distributed their sanitizer to multiple polling places around the state in preparation of the April 7 election and plans to continue making sanitizers as the pandemic continues, said Nels Forde, general manager and chief operating officer.

  • Jockey International based in Kenosha, announced yesterday major plans to support first responders and heath care workers across the country by donating critically needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the fight against Coronavirus (COVID-19). On a national level, Jockey will supply health care workers on the front lines with critically needed Tier 3 Isolation Gowns. In partnership with Encompass Group, McDnough, GA, Jockey will immediately restart manufacturing Tier 3 Isolation Gowns, and is expecting to initially donate 250,000 gowns at a pace of 30,000-50,000 units per week.

Thank you to all the companies that are doing an amazing job stepping up and helping out during this challenging time! Has your company shifted to making products to fight against COVID-19? If so, we’d love to hear about it and share your story. Send us an email at [email protected].

At APICS Milwaukee, our mission is to help supply chain professionals and their companies manage their supply chains in the most effective manner, planning for disruptions like the coronavirus.

We are excited to announce a new Virtual Breakfast Roundtable blog! Join us in an online discussion! Are you APICS certified? Every five comments earns one certification maintenance point.  

APICS Milwaukee is the premier professional association for supply chain management, helping over 180 Milwaukee area companies represented by our members, with educational and networking opportunities. 

Katherine Walker Shares #WhyAPICS is Important to Her

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APICS Milwaukee members continue to share their #WhyApics stories on how APICS has helped them in their careers.

Katherine Walker, President & Treasurer of the Supply Chain Management Association at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, shares her #WhyApics below.

If you’d like to share your #whyapics story on how APICS has helped you in your career please send us an email at [email protected]. If your story is selected to be shared on our website, we will send you a free APICS Milwaukee events pass valid for 12 months! Share your story today!!

Your APICS Milwaukee Chapter, with approximately 450 members, is a non-profit association with a mission to serve Supply Chain professionals and their companies in the Milwaukee area.

We look forward to hearing your #whyapics story! For additional information, contact us via our website at: or via email at: [email protected]

Breakfast Roundtable Highlights: Setting Correct Inventory Levels

Photo: APICS Milwaukee Breakfast Roundtable March 2020

Does your business deal with products that are difficult to know the right levels of inventory to maintain?

At our breakfast roundtable last week we discussed that when dealing with a lot of engineered to order or assemble to order goods it can be very challenging to know what inventory to carry and how much of it.

One solution was shared that it’s best to stock and forecast for the common parts that get used in many different assemblies.

A related topic we discussed was the issue of not having accurate inventory and how to fix that. Here were a few suggestions to address the lack of inventory accuracy:

  1. Check the BOMs of the assembled parts for accuracy
  2. Do daily cycle counts on items that are always an issue. This helps you find the issue faster and saves a ton of work by eliminating the need to look through hundreds or thousands of transactions at the end of the month or year
  3. Don’t copy and paste BOMs from items to new items because if the original item is setup wrong you now have two items setup wrong.

A lot of companies have battles between sales and production. Sales wants as much inventory as possible on the floor where production does not. Here are a few suggestions for managing this common dilemma:

  1. A good way of having inventory available but not on your books is to put items on consignment. It only hits the books when it is consumed.
  2. Have your suppliers hold inventory through the use of blanket orders.
  3. Don’t buy inventory for your suppliers to use. Either have them buy it or negotiate with the raw materials supplier for your subcontracting supplier so that you know you are getting the best price without having to actually buy the raw goods.

Although we will likely not be meeting in person in the near future due to COVID19 adherence, we are working on ways to keep the discussions going and will be sharing more in the upcoming weeks!

Please visit our website for more supply chain insights and best practices at

Coronavirus and Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Risk


Has your supply chain been impacted by the coronavirus?

Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE recently shared an article summarized below on the risks to pharmaceutical supply chains.

APICS Milwaukee is proud to be a premier ASCM partner, serving the local community with supply chain education and information needed to be successful in today’s ever-changing world.

Photo by Free To Use Sounds on Unsplash

Coronavirus Outbreak Amplifies Pharmaceutical Supply Chain Risk

By ASCM CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE

The number of reported Coronavirus cases has surged to more than 10,000, with the death toll rising to 213. As the virus extends across China and unnerves the rest of the world, pharmaceutical supply chains seem to be experiencing the greatest impact. According to the FDA, China has 15% of the world’s facilities manufacturing active pharmaceutical ingredients for 370 essential drugs.

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research at the University of Minnesota, delivered a stern warning to health care and pharmaceutical supply chain organizations on CNBC’s The Exchange: “Many of the critical products we use every day, such as medicines and medical devices, are actually manufactured in China’s areas being shut down. … Every company that has any manufacturing capacity in China right now better be looking very carefully at their supply chains.”

Osterholm emphasized that the outbreak is going to have an impact on the global supply of critical products “within days to weeks.”

A wide range of risks

Reginaldo Montague, CFPIM, CSCP, writes in SCM Now magazine: “The pharmaceutical supply chain stretches around the world like a rubber band wrapped around a ball. The smallest fault in any segment of that rubber band challenges the integrity of the whole and could lead to catastrophic failure of the entire system.”

He explains that, not long ago, the drug supply chain was more localized and therefore far less complex. However, now that active ingredients are sourced from multiple global organizations, the pharmaceutical supply chain contains a wide range of risk profiles.

So what to do? Gartner shared three steps below on how to secure your supply chain from the risks of the coronavirus.

  1. Short-term actions: Do it now. Develop a high risk for supply chain disruption monitoring and response programs for countries impacted by the virus and potential supply chain exposure from tier 1 and below. If lower-tier transparency is missing, start building up the program and prioritize discovery to get a full picture rapidly. It’s also important to assess how customer spending might be affected. The next step is to make sure all inventory is within reach and outside impacted areas and logistical hubs. Additionally, supply chain leaders should work with their legal and HR departments to understand any financial implications of not being able to deliver supply to customers and provide guidance to employees located in the impacted areas.
  2. Midterm actions: Do it this quarter. Focus should be on balancing supply and demand as well as building buffer stock. Assess opportunities to diversify the supplier ecosystem and review or create the organization’s overall risk management approach. Work with internal stakeholders and strategic and critical suppliers to establish a congruent risk management approach to monitor and prepare for potential material and manufacturing capacity shortages.
  3. Long-term actions: Do it this year. Once the initial impacts of the crisis are mitigated, it’s all about foreseeing the next “when.” Supply chain leaders and their teams can, for example, conduct a scenario planning exercise and develop action plans. This is the time to discover or develop alternative sources and diversify value chains. Tackle strategic and concentrated supplies with high value at risk where internal risk capacities to absorb, such as alternative sources, routes, inventory and cash reserves, aren’t sufficient enough to mitigate any major disruption. Being better prepared than the competition might even open new opportunities when the next disruption comes around.

At APICS Milwaukee, our mission is to help supply chain professionals and their companies manage their supply chains in the most effective manner, planning for disruptions like the coronavirus.

We are excited to announce a new workshop for healthcare professionals,  Intro to Continuous Improvement for Healthcare scheduled for next week Tuesday 3/17.

Participants can participate in person or via webinar and will learn the implementation of many of the “lean” manufacturing techniques and tools used for:

  • Reducing costs, delivery and process time
  • Eliminating waste
  • Reducing unnecessary inventory
  • Improving performance quality
  • Increasing overall internal customer and patient satisfaction
  • Improving employee involvement, morale and the organizational culture
  • Helping to transform Healthcare organizations


APICS Milwaukee is the premier professional association for supply chain management, helping over 180 Milwaukee area companies represented by our members, with educational and networking opportunities.