IMI Critical Engineering is a leading provider of specialised valves for oil, gas, chemical and petrochemical industries, globally. ‘Flow control technologies’ for the sake of conciseness. The company has a myriad of subsidiaries around the world and employ over 4,000 professionals across different regions. Like any ‘big business’, in the looming shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, IMI had to adapt to the new normal whilst still prioritising their clients’ needs and adapting their own staff setups to remain resilient in trying times.
At Supply Chain Digital, we wondered how a multinational company that provides crucial parts to industries across the globe dealt with the challenges presented by the pandemic; how technology influenced them, and what strategies they put in place to ensure their business success. Fortunately, Aidir Parizzi, Director of Global Supply Chain at IMI, took the time to chat with us about maintaining business operations in the face of adversity.
“While we kept as many people as possible working from home, the majority of our sites kept operating and serving our customers, following guidelines set by different governments around the globe. The first concern was regarding personal protection equipment (PPE). We have mobilised Supply Chain teams in Asia, the Americas and Europe to provide our employees with the necessary protection equipment. Around 100 thousand masks were acquired – not medical masks, but here we’re referring to FFP2 and FFP3, which provide enhanced protection. In addition, we procured thermometers, gloves, thousands of litres of hand sanitiser and thermal imaging devices for each site. We also had to deal with increasing import/export obstacles that came gradually ─ country restrictions, logistic issues, and licences required, for example.
From a business continuity aspect, what gave us the time and resources to focus on PPE, logistics and resourcing needs was the fact that we were well-prepared for an event of this magnitude”.
For IMI Engineering, though COVID-19, specifically, wasn’t necessarily expected, “pandemics, like other environmental, geopolitical or commercial disruption, of regional or global magnitude, are almost always inevitable, but at the same time highly predictable. Our Strategic Sourcing Process created three years ago, includes risk management measures that, in spite of a significant supplier base reduction in the last three years, provided us with the diversified dual sources we needed, the strong long-term supplier relationship, agreements and reliable data analysis required to react quickly and efficiently to unexpected events.”
All of these measures are, of course, dependent on digitalisation: a concept that has been sweeping across every industry for decades, now ─ but in a more driven manner, recently, with the adoption of new, futuristic technologies and capabilities. “The fundamental reason to digitise is speed. It’s no longer only about making the right decisions, but about making them in the shortest possible time. We need to understand the impact, real or potential, of commercial risks and opportunities, faster than our competition and before it cascades to our customers. An end-to-end Supply Chain planning also involves all functions and regions, working without colours and stripes, as a single company, and we’ve made significant progress in that regard”, Aidir stated.