The long and winding road...

We’re more than halfway through 2020 and clearly Covid-19 is not about to simply disappear; slowly but surely we’re learning to adapt and adopt strategies for this ‘new normal’. But achieving international consensus is challenging given the geopolitical variations in impact and the different recovery patterns in industry sectors across the world. What is clear is that despite the chaos wreaked by this pandemic, the wheels of industry and commerce need to keep turning; societies and communities need to come together to rebuild fractured local environments, and globally, the world must find common ground to help mitigate the devastating impact on lives and livelihoods, working collaboratively for example, to find a vaccine.

A critical issue during the pandemic for our sector has been that of supply chain resiliency; disruption of distribution operations, shortfalls of product availability, suspension of industrial and transportation activities and the paralysing downturn in consumer demand, which had a particularly damaging impact on the automotive market, has been seriously challenging.

Fortunately there are signs of a gradual recovery beginning to emerge as lockdown eases across the globe (David Wright focuses on manufacturing in a post-Covid world on page 30). But yes, there are lessons to be learnt if we are to mitigate a potential second wave that by all accounts, we are warned may occur this winter.

One such lesson must surely be to consider ‘reverse globalisation’? Developing a more resilient and robust supply chain is fundamental to maintaining manufacturing operations and being able to supply and support local markets and customers. Establishing near-shore supply opportunities rather than outsourcing to long-distance market providers is a trend that will make sense for many companies who lost their lifeline to products, components and


materials during this pandemic. In my Editor’s interview with Dr Christine Fuchs, VP Global R&D, Fuchs Petrolube (page 38) she cites being accessible to customers locally, wherever they are based globally, has been a distinct advantage in

ensuring the long-term success of Fuchs; can other organisations be encouraged to develop more near-shoreing opportunities to safeguard potential future lockdown disruption?

Along with many other sectors, our industry has been severely impacted upon by the cancelled conferences, events and global networking meetings, victims of international travel bans and social distancing. But the industry is nothing if not resilient. Technology and digitalisation have become the new enablers as virtual meetings have been embraced across the sector (via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, webinars and podcasts). Online training programmes (UKLA’s own Certificate of Lubricant Competence courses) are being run remotely (via Zoom) until social distancing ends. Yes, personal contact and communication is preferable, but until we can revert back to the freedoms we once knew, knowledge sharing, technical courses, meetings and industry insights can continue, albeit virtually.

We know that it is often a crisis that precipitates change. But it is also at times of great disruption that the greatest opportunities abound. Thinking laterally and adapting our behaviour today will only help us come out stronger post Covid.

Keep safe everyone! Until next time...

Andrianne Philippou,

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