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How MRO Strategic Sourcing and a Connected Supply Chain Helped New York City Schools Through a Pandemic

The heroes at the NYC DOE are New Yorkers. They didn’t let a pandemic stop them from keeping kids safe and feeding people in their communities. SDI was proud to support them. SDI has a long-standing history of helping NYC DOE with their MRO procurement strategy. The connected supply chain they’ve built with SDI helped them to get ahead of the demand for bulk orders of sanitizers and disinfectants. Our 20+ years of MRO strategic sourcing for NYC DOE coupled with agility and foresight and enabled by New York City’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) taking fast action and mobilizing early, allowed NYC DOE to get ahead of the supply chain disruptions.

New Yorkers. Connected people. Connected supply chain.

NYC DOE understood this was a connected supply chain issue and introduced DCAS to SDI, their supply chain partner for MRO procurement strategy for over 20 years. SDI suggested early on that the city adapt their supply chain from small package distribution to their 1800 schools in favor of large shipments directly from the manufacturers. This key change was instrumental in getting large truckloads of material to the schools quickly, rather than going through the distributor and then redistributing, saving precious time in a volatile market and cutting down on the potential contamination points for the materials delivered.

MRO Strategic Sourcing in a supply chain crisis.

Because of COVID-19, traditional sources were unable to deliver the essential sanitizers and disinfectants needed to keep New York City’s over 1800 schools operational during the first few weeks of the outbreak. SDI’s agility and supplier relationships coupled with NYC DOE’s ability to make decisions quickly, allowed SDI to find alternate sources, vet the suppliers, research their credentials, evaluate their pricing and quickly onboard. Speed was crucial.  Whereas in normal times, the MRO procurement strategy and supplier onboarding can take up to a week, time was of the essence, and it had to be done in a matter of hours. Especially because prices were fluctuating so rapidly, it was very important to negotiate and commit to get a locked-in price and (more importantly) a place in line. Not acting quickly could mean the difference between getting orders in a month instead of a week.

The value of quick decision making.

NYC DOE enabled this rapid execution through their ability to make quick decisions and centralize their standards. Which is no easy feat when looking at 1800 schools across the 5 boroughs and over 1200 custodians. The city bought centrally with central standards to help expedite the process, cutting through the typical bureaucratic red tape to quickly reach decisions and act rapidly. And because we’ve enabled a flexible, connected supply chain, SDI was able to receive products in bulk in our facility and brought their product into our central warehouse to redistribute to the schools.

Lessons Learned in Agility and Resiliency.

The COVID-19 crisis, was an unprecedented, global supply chain disruption. If they weren’t federally mandated to redirect all their PPE materials to hospitals, suppliers were serving their best customers first. At SDI, we’ve spent over 20 years building relationships with our supply partners that help us service the NYC Department of Education. Those vested partnerships proved critical during this crisis.

  • PPE has to be viewed as mission critical and essential. As many facilities can’t operate safely without these materials.
  • As a result, strong supply partnerships are a must. You need to have back up – secondary, tertiary suppliers, but also dynamic marketplaces.
  • Having the flexibility to be innovative and solve problems outside of your normal comfort zone is crucial. Something that solves the problem in a different way – design thinking approach
  • We continue to explore alternatives and technologies for NYC DOE, to help mitigate future surges. We’re currently looking into items like reusables and sterilizing masks.

SDI is committed to helping NYC DOE open its schools for the Fall 2020 school year. Beyond the need for education, reopening is important because so many New Yorkers depend on the schools to keep their kids safe during the day, so they can return to work with peace of mind. If you’d like to explore ways to build resiliency in your PPE supply chain and mitigate the risk of future demand shocks, read more about SDI’s PPE As-a-Service (SM) offering or contact us today.

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