Jim Tompkins on Effect of the COVID19 Pandemic on Global Supply Chains of the Future

This episode of The Vaccine Challenge is hosted by Priyanka Asera and features Jim Tompkins, Founder and Chairman of Tompkins International. Jim has had four and a half decades of experience in the industry – and is an absolute legend in the space.

2020 was all about the pandemic. 2021 is all about the COVID-19 vaccines.

We change gears in this episode and talk to Jim about how the pandemic is going to affect global supply chains of the future.

Topics touched upon:

Lay of the land from a supply chain perspective due to the pandemic:

  • Huge growth of eCommerce and BOPIS (Buy Online Pick-Up in Store) - 10 year jump ahead due to the pandemic
  • Severe shift in demand patterns due to WFH which has totally disrupted global supply chains. Forecasting of demand was based on historicals past performance; now there’s no precedence.

What are the bottlenecks and challenges in vaccine distribution execution:

  • Should we a) Maximize for the number of people that get the vaccine b) Slow the spread of COVID19, or c) Try to reduce the deaths from COVID 19.

All these 3 strategies will significantly change what the Supply Chain strategy will be, and govts can’t seem to agree on what is best

  • More important to know how many people were administered the vaccine rather than how many vaccines were distributed In many countries of the world, the cold chains are over-capacitated due to vaccines taking up cold chain capacity. Several countries have added new cold chain capacity just for the vaccine distribution and deployment.

Why is the old supply chain dead, and what does the new supply chain look like:

  • “Black swan events” have been occuring more and more frequently. US Army in 1988 developed a term called VUCA - Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. COVID19 ended up being the mother of all VUCAs. Regular supply chains cannot help deal with VUCA events.
  • Earlier, it was a linear point-to-point supply chain which is too slow to deal with VUCA. It needs to be replaced with a real-time many-to-many communication that overcomes information latency so that everyone has the same version of the truth so we can respond to real time in VUCA.
  • The answer is a Digital Supply Network. Requires a Control Tower over your entire ecosystem.
  • One Network (leaders in control tower + AI +ML) have been doing a good job in this space

About Jim

Dr. James A. Tompkins is an international authority on designing and implementing end-to-end supply chains. As the founder and Chairman of Tompkins International, his focus over the last several years has been in the areas of digital commerce, unichannel and supply chain reinvention. Over the last 40 years, Tompkins International has evolved from a supply chain consulting firm into an end-to-end supply chain consulting and solutions company, with business units focusing on supply chain consulting, material handling integration, and robotics. His 40-plus years as CEO of Tompkins International and his focus on helping companies achieve profitable growth give him an insider’s view into what makes great companies even better.

Jim received the prestigious Frank and Lillian Gilbreth Industrial Engineering Award from the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) on June 1, 2015. The award is an attribute that recognizes Dr. Tompkins through the contributions he has provided to the welfare of mankind in the field of industrial and systems engineering. In addition, Jim has served as President of the IISE, the Materials Management Society and the College-Industry Council on Material Handling Education and has been named a Distinguished Engineering Alum by Purdue University. He has also received more than 50 additional awards for his service to his profession.

Jim is a thought leader, sharing insights on supply chain excellence through his thousands of presentations around the world and his YouTube videos have had over a million views. Jim also shares his knowledge and provides up-to-date information on supply chain and business trends via Linkedin and Twitter. He has written or contributed to more than 30 books and over 1,000 articles and has been quoted in hundreds of business and industry magazines.

Jim received his Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering in 1969, his Master of Science in Industrial Engineering in 1970 and his Ph.D. in 1972, all from Purdue University.