How To Navigate Ongoing Production Challenges

For many packaging businesses, navigating the ongoing disruption caused by COVID-19 has evolved from simply weathering the storm, to doing what it takes to survive. 

Keeping cash flow going with limited resources and broken supply chains is extremely challenging. Issues such as shortage of transport channels and raw materials, regulatory enforcement, and restrictions on the movement of staff make operating as normal even more difficult. 

Even giants are feeling the pinch. Nestlé has had to all but stop production in some territories.

Rapid action is needed to manage ongoing fallout from the crisis.


Rapid supply chain resilience

Every country has responded to the crisis in different ways. Some have entered into full lockdown, while others have allowed essential services to continue. The confusion over what constitutes as essential has meant some businesses haven’t been able to operate normally. After all, a pharmaceutical packaging producer cannot continue if its suppliers are still under lockdown. 

Look for disruptions along your supply chain and diversify those areas to keep the chain functioning. If your raw material supplier is unable to meet demand, explore supplemental raw material suppliers to fulfill existing orders. If there is a trucking shortage or a congested port of entry, look for alternative modes of transport, delivery options and routes. 

Localized production and sourcing have the added advantage of lowering your carbon footprint.

“Supply chain resilience requires a holistic view, the commitment of the entire organization, substantial data collection, development of joint metrics, and alignment of processes,” Professor Ralf W. Seifert.


Redirect staff and resources

Retrain and redeploy staff and redirect resources to focus on key strategic areas. Companies across the board have had to let staff go to keep afloat. By retraining and reassigning your workforce, you are improving productivity, morale, and redirecting resources to where they are needed most. 

A key strategy is to reduce product variety so you can manufacture to demand. Many large corporations including beauty giants L’Oréal and Coty have repurposed their production facilities to produce hand sanitizer. Why? Because the demand for beauty products has dropped and luxury goods deemed unessential cannot be sold in some countries. These mega-producers made the right decision to temporarily repurpose their factories to produce in-demand items. 3D printers can be used to make ventilators, which are desperately needed by those on the frontline.


Automate where possible

With the majority of non-essential staff working from home, digitizing your operations and migrating your information to the cloud makes your system accessible to all remote staff, and allows teams to work safely and efficiently from home.  A good digital strategy is made up of a variety of interconnected technologies that work together to keep your day-to-day operations running smoothly. 

Invest in AI and robotics systems within the warehouse, implement an integrated warehouse management system, and use a digital marketplace like the OPN Platform to optimize procurement and vendor management. 


Create a safe work environment

The fact is, no matter how committed your staff are, people don’t want to take risks right now, and staff need their employers to take a pro-active role in ensuring their safety. 

Allow staff to continue to work from home and for those who need to be on the ground, ensure every precaution is taken to ensure their safety, including: 

  • regular sanitation of the workplace
  • safe social distancing measures
  • dedicated transport for workers
  • daily screening
  • personal protection equipment (PPE)
  • restricting non-essential travel
  • hand-washing stations and sanitizer


Disruption is here to stay. An integrated approach to technology and diversification is needed across the whole business. Identify key disrupted areas, diversify and redirect resources, automate where possible, and maintain safety standards. 

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