Procurement professionals specialising in supply chain jobs are working around the clock to manage the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The outbreak has now exceeded 4,500 cases in the Wuhan region of China, with the result that companies that are reliant on manufacturing plants there are bracing themselves for potential production delays. 

Chinese authorities have implemented a quarantine over Wuhan, a major industrial hub, which is now limiting movement into and out of the region.

Among the brands affected by the epidemic is Apple.

CEO Tim Cook acknowledged in a statement this week that the firm does “have some suppliers in the Wuhan area”. 

He went on to qualify that remark with an explanation that Apple’s Wuhan-based suppliers are “alternate sources”, adding that the company is already working on plans to minimise and make up any production losses that might ensue from disruptions in the region.

US car manufacturer Ford acknowledged this week that it relies on auto manufacturer facilities in the region – according to Business Insider, there are nine such plants.

It hopes to resume production with them on 10th February.

The pressure on affected firms behind the scenes will be intense, not least for practitioners in supply chain and procurement jobs, who will be at the sharp end of disruption-minimisation strategies. 

Although details are scant, it would not be at all surprising for many of these firms to augment their procurement teams with additional procurement and supply chain interims.

Supply chain flow is already being affected: one of the region’s most significant passenger and cargo airlines, Cathay Pacific, announced this Tuesday that as of 30th January, it would be cutting its capacity in the area by “50% or more” until the close of March this year.

In a research note this week, analysts at Wells Fargo wrote that China today has become an integral part of the global supply chain, which means that any decline in its output due to the virus has the potential to disrupt production elsewhere.

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