After weeks of steadfast resolve, it is a pivotal time in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. Decisions made now will undoubtedly have an impact on both our public health and economic position in the coming months and potentially years ahead. That’s why it is crucial – and why we have a responsibility – to protect public health while ensuring essential societal needs are being met, regardless of region or country.
Depending on where you live globally, the effect of the coronavirus is being felt in very different ways. Yet it is hard to deny the connectivity we are feeling – to our communities, countries, and as a global ecosystem of people and economies. We rely on each other, and sssssnow more than ever we face the reality that these ecosystems are fragile and must be maintained.
At our operations around the world, we have learned enhanced methods for keeping workers safe while simultaneously maintaining production. Examples of these best practices have been shared with our suppliers and government partners and now serve as a blueprint for operations, including:
- Working remotely for those in roles that can be done from home
- Doubling the number of buses used to transport workers to maintain safe distancing
- Halting production lines for 30 minutes between shifts
- Installing automatic doors where possible to reduce touch points
- Setting up hand washing stations both inside and outside plants
- Constructing robust barriers and partitions on factory lines to safely delineate workspaces
- And communicating clearly and often to reinforce safety messages and important behaviors
As manufacturers and suppliers prioritize the production of materials and solutions needed on the front lines of the pandemic battle, including resources used to manufacture respirators, masks and other safety equipment used to save lives, we are also seeing the direct impact of how global supply chains rely on seamless and connected production and operations across countries. When one country or sector makes a decision, the decision can create a ripple effect that is felt in communities well outside political boundaries. It is important to understand how these decisions can affect the essential needs of people everywhere.
Particularly important right now are ongoing discussions between North American leaders from the United States, Mexico and Canada that require the consideration and support of public officials and private sector leaders. For decades – and embodied through the recently approved United States Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) – we have seen the importance of having a bi-lateral approach to the supply of goods. Any potential delays can result in a disruption of the flow of materials needed to ensure critical infrastructure is maintained and essential services are accessible to the millions of people who need them. Beyond the production of COVID-19 medical supplies, essential materials being produced today will have lasting consequences for countless other products and services that are vital for day-to-day life – from controls used in HVAC equipment ahead of the summer months, supplying electricity to homes and businesses, to temperature-monitoring sensors used to keep our food safe before arriving on our tables.
It’s with these intentions in mind that we must continue conversations to ensure government leaders around the globe recognize the importance of the entire supply chain and the role it plays in not only the fight against COVID-19, but also in our ability to maintain critical infrastructure and services like keeping the lights on and guaranteeing access to life-saving medicines. If we hope to be successful together in defeating this virus without serious consequences to our nations’ infrastructure, then we cannot lose sight of the companies providing the materials that keep all our critical services running from start to finish.
There are no critical goods without the materials needed to make them. Guidance for companies deemed essential must include considerations for the entire supply chain, including those elements that move across borders. We join in the efforts of our peers, urging officials to recognize and reciprocate the guidance issued by neighboring countries in this crucial moment, enabling the production and delivery of supplies and daily essentials to citizens across countries and throughout the supply chain. It is through this collective movement that we will emerge from this unprecedented crisis stronger and more resilient than before.
We share in the commitment of our industry and government to take all necessary measures to protect the lives of all our employees who are managing essential manufacturing facilities, and we cannot thank our employees enough for the role they are playing every single day during this difficult time.