The Covid-19 pandemic is affecting everyday operations in more and more industries, with construction and maintenance works in the social sector starting to feel the effects of the pandemic.
CHIC as a responsible framework provider has engaged all of our supply chain to understand the level of preparedness in dealing with the challenges caused by the pandemic.
Taking into account the requirements of the sector for products offered by CHIC, the supply chain is split into two major categories, Merchants and Manufacturers and Contractors, both of which are facing different obstacles to providing their services.
CHIC is happy to report that at this stage all suppliers have drafted and enacted emergency planning to adapt their operations and deal with the current uncertainty.
A) Manufacturers & Distributors
CHIC started engaging with the supply chain at the onset of the outbreak in Asia. We sought to understand how much reliance there is on manufacturing in China. Identifying key raw materials and how the lower levels of manufacturing would hinder the ability to supply materials into the UK. As the outbreak has grown, CHIC has worked with the supply chain to understand how the direct supply to the UK has changed and what actions they have taken to better reduce the risk of spread.
In the early stages of the outbreak, it was obvious that the supply chain was well prepared and reacted instinctively. Fortunately, the plans for Brexit meant that both manufacturers and distributors changed their business models to effectively increase the levels of production and product storing. This ensured that the supply chain has:
- Learnt how to adapt and prepare for potential disruptions in supply
- Ensured that stock levels are high
- Created contingency plans in case of any future potential risk to supply
The success of this approach has meant that the current situation around Coronavirus has been handled really well by the supply chain. Much of the same strategic decisions that were taken for Brexit have directly helped to ensure the supply of materials during this new period of uncertainty.
Although Manufacturers and Distributers have increased their stock holdings this has not covered materials directly necessary for combating the pandemic, such as dust masks, ventilators, sanitary gel and other such products. These types of products are now being rationed as requested by government guidance.
Ensuring relevant stocks of construction materials is a big responsibility on behalf of the supply chain, as it requires a large level of investment. To compliment this, CHIC suppliers have a thorough understanding of their own supply chain and contingency plans are adopted by all to ensure that alternative points of supply are available to their businesses should they be required.
The supply chain has taken every precaution:
- In managing factories, office space or their branch networks
- Where cases have arisen internally, buildings have been closed and cleaned before being re-used
- Working from home has been encouraged by staff that are able to do so, while meetings have been reduced, and alternative forms of communication has been implemented
- Branches have taken the responsibility to ensure cleanliness is maintained
During this period, the supply chain is closely following the government guidelines and are constantly adapting to the ever-changing situation. We anticipate that as the situation changes, so will the approach. As such, CHIC will maintain close contact with the supply chain so we can understand and assess risk.
B) Labour Contractors
All of the contractors that CHIC has engaged with have drawn up emergency planning to deal with the current pandemic. Responses are summarised below:
Common Key Actions:
- Contractors are following NHS, Government and WHO guidance in fighting the spread of the virus
- Contractors have established emergency committees or enacted emergency planning and are already trying to mitigate and manage the fallout
- Internal prevention measures (i.e. wash hand posters, screening staff, create internal mechanism for self-reporting and self-isolating) are being promoted in all organisations.
- All meetings (internal & external) are encouraged to be held either via telephone conference or digitally
- Where possible, suppliers have taken the steps to work from home and social distancing is encouraged across all interactions
- Prior to scheduling works or a visit, contractors are checking with clients and residents where possible, to ascertain any risk of exposure
- All suppliers are now conducting ‘doorstep checks’ to minimise any risk of unnecessary exposure
- They are providing PPE to front-line staff, and are rationing such materials to ensure that they are able to provide their services in case of further escalation
Due to the ever-evolving nature of the pandemic additional contingency measures are either being introduced now or are in the process of being enacted. These include:
- Creating mandatory online training courses for staff around the Covid-19 prevention tactics
- Reviews of all programmes to understand risk of exposure and labour planning accordingly
- Purchase of specialised equipment, such as fogging machines, to assist with mitigating spread in offices
The most important message that came out of the contractor preparedness review is the need to ensure continuity around work and programmes. While the human element can be protected via prevention tactics and self-isolating, with registered providers encouraged to do their part, the financial impact can create the most damage to peoples lives.
All of the CHIC Supply Chain have raised the following issues for CHIC members to take into account:
- Members should consider screening their stock to ensure that self-isolating and individuals currently exposed are accounted for and contractors are informed to ensure that the spread of the virus is kept at a minimum
- Members should consider purchasing supplies and hold stock of the most critical parts and any special items
- Members should consider processes to maintain regular payments for works and services
Finally, a word from the CHIC Supply Chain Manager:
Both CHIC and its supply chain will do everything in its power to support our membership and the residents who are their customers. We will keep members and suppliers updated as the situation evolves.