Addressing a Manufacturing Crisis During the Pandemic Using ERP Technologies

Deirdre Fryer, Head of Engineering - SYSPRO

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented health and human crisis. The virus is highly infectious, and at the moment, there is no clear word about vaccine development. Some nations record thousands of infections, including Kenya, a development that consumes a lot of medical resources. In the same instance, the pandemic has caused significant disturbances to the economy, including manufacturing.

Businesses have been resuming albeit gradually. In Kenya and other affected regions, workforce shortage has been an issue due to travel restrictions. Some manufacturing plants have had to stop or scale down production due to a lack of raw materials caused by issues in supply chains. Local supply chains are often linear, hence problems in a single link such as logistical blockage have affected the functioning of the entire chain. In some instances, finished products have not been shipped to global markets due to the said constraints.

We have also heard about cases one worker in a production line is infected with the virus, and the entire group of workers have to be isolated, and manufacturing has to be halted. If the function of the quarantined group cannot be replaced, then a business would be forced to entirely cease production. Panic arising from such cases affects the usual consumption of goods and services. The outcome is a distorted supply chain.

These are some of the issues that were discussed in a roundtable held by SYSPRO, an ERP company that serves many markets across the globe. The meeting was attended by key CEOs in manufacturing and services industry, including Mira Shah of Synresins, Jane Masiga of MEDS, as well as SYSPRO’s Head of Solutions – Engineering, Deirdre Fryer. The online conference was also attended by veteran journalist and Media Analyst Arthur Goldstuck.

All speakers agreed that intelligent manufacturing and the use of ERP solutions are picking speed, having sometimes been neglected by some organizations and governments before. In particular, Ms. Fryer mentioned that the application of ERP and associated technologies such as big data analytics can address most of the issues that companies have been reporting during the pandemic.

MEDS CEO Jane Masiga made some key points about resilience and viability in business during these tough times. For instance, she highlighted the use of ERP technologies in  MEDS, and how they have reinforced resilience in supply chains and communication with employees and customers.

During the meeting, it also emerged that ERP technologies have been instrumental in supporting real time sensing of resources and on-demand interactions between the underlying production entities in manufacturing and supply chains. The use of ERP, including solutions provided by SYSPRO, has been embraced by the named companies, some of which customers in the wider Africa.

Facing various disruptions caused by COVID-19, a manufacturing enterprise, according to Ms. Fryer, should comprehensively consider adding redundant suppliers in its supply chain, designing strategically distributed factories, and implementing ERP technologies at all levels of its business.

In the end, the company’s resilience and viability are improved, so that the company can better cope with the impact of the epidemic or other emergencies.