Covid-19, part 1 | Rising to the challenge of a global pandemic

 

WINFRIED SCHALLER, Group CEO of Lincotek, reflects on a year dominated by the Covid-19 crisis and how the company has responded.

September 10, 2020 | Part 1

2020 has been immensely challenging for businesses around the world. Lincotek, being one of the biggest global CMOs to the orthopedics industry, had to deal with the crisis early on, starting in Asia and then, afterwards, in Europe and North America.

In January, nobody was expecting elective surgeries in most of the developed countries to stop at one point or another, focusing all resources on confronting Covid-19. Today the world has changed. There is a definite before and after. Coronavirus has changed the way we work now and the way we will work together in the future.

Our decision making was centered around three key pillars: the health and wellbeing of our employees; business continuity; and the longer-term recovery.

Health and wellbeing
Our top priority has, of course, always been our employees.  For us, the situation started in China and we believed it to be contained. We have an excellent team in the country and the measures we implemented rapidly were perceived to be so good, that we ended up becoming a showcase in the area for applying severe and efficient protocols to protect our workforce.

Sadly, as we all know, Covid-19 then spread rapidly, first in Europe and then North America. We were then able to apply our learnings from China, where the crisis hit first, to all our plants around the world, rapidly responding to the changing impact of the virus.

There were several key aspects to our approach:

  1. We aimed to pre-empt situations and always tried to do more than was requested.
  2. We communicated well and insisted on the measures being implemented.
  3. We worked closely work the local authorities to implement epidemic prevention and control measures.
  4. We helped and supported the community during the emergency, e.g. delivering personal protective equipment (PPE) to local health workers.

 Business continuity
We’ve made every effort to ensure that our business stays fully operational, delivering the high-quality service that our customers have come to expect over many years. Maintaining our supply chain’s functionality was very important in this period. Even though elective surgeries had been stopped for some time and demand had dropped, our work is always critical to people’s health. We had to change the way we manage the business, focusing on being able to maintain supply. This meant increasing our capability to manage the business on site, while keeping in mind a longer-term perspective:

  1. As a first step, we ramped up inventory to pre-empt a possible breakdown in the supply chain.
  2. We worked with our employees to create flexibility to manage the fluctuations of demand.
  3. We had to manage cash very tightly, to avoid any possible breakdown.

Recovery period
Whatever decisions we took, we always made them with the recovery in mind. We followed through on all plant improvement proposals and implemented major CapEx programs. For further information, just take a look at our press releases. And believe me, there is more to come.

It’s been a difficult period, of course, but we’ve been delighted at the hard work and commitment of our staff and the understanding and co-operation of our customers. Lincotek has taken every possible action to emerge as an ever-stronger company out of the crisis, pursuing our long-term strategy to be the best value-add contract manufacturer of integrated supply chain solutions.

To be continued…