The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is knocking on the door of New Zealand. If we look around the world it is just a (short) matter of time before this more transmissible variant is running through our communities. 

This is not a scare story, in fact, as we can see globally and more locally in Australia, most countries are just getting on with it and dealing with the impacts – the reality is that they have needed to, this variant is a lot harder to contain and control. 

In Australia we have seen food production halted because of severe staffing and product shortages, retail stores with 10-20 per cent staff absence, distribution centres with 20-35 per cent & trucking companies with 10-50 per cent absence because they either had COVID-19 or were in isolation. These are material impacts.  

The NZ supply chain can take heed from Australia. Here are a few practical steps to consider or test within your crisis planning: 

  1. Stress test your supply chain through scenario planning – assess impacts using ‘what if’ analysis – then plan your mitigation strategies 
  1. Build or retain optionality in your labour force – cross skill your own workers & enhance your temporary or contract labour pool 
  1. Review your inventory levels, build stock and move it to reduce risk and create options – try and minimise your single points of failure 
  1. Increase resilience by creating new capacity or adding flexibility into your network – turn on multiple fulfilment locations or sourcing options, enable the use of multiple transport companies or own staff deliveries & identify / contract overflow capacity 

The reality is that the NZ supply chain is about to be tested by COVID once again. There will be impacts, costs will increase, service will deteriorate, and shortages will happen. Knowing that you have prepared well, building resilience and agility is fundamental.   

If you’re concerned about the impact of Omicron on your supply chain or would like to gain further insights from the Argon & Co ANZ team, please feel free to contact me on my email below.

Chris Foord

Regional Director New Zealand

[email protected]

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