As a result, we are moving towards new business models, which are demand-led and based on doing more with less. Sustainability and affordability therefore go hand-in-hand as we enter this New Normal world. Agility is therefore becoming a critical success factor. And once the need for change has been understood, it is clear that the New Normal is creating a major opportunity for companies to rapidly build and scale new businesses, which will likely provide solid revenue and profit growth for decades to come.
They have collapsed not only because of the uncoordinated nature of the lockdowns around the world, but also due to volatility in demand patterns. These problems are unlikely to disappear quickly, making it essential to rebuild supply chains on a local scale, close to end-user demand. The good news is that the costs of replacing existing infrastructure are relatively low, due to the ability to use advanced manufacturing technology.
Even without the pollution issue, it would make little sense for the world to continue spending $80bn-$120bn each year on producing single-use plastic products, which are then thrown away immediately after use. The coronavirus pandemic has confirmed that plastics are very valuable materials – but we need new locally-based business models to be created, covering the value chain from collection through processing, manufacturing (based potentially on 3D printing) and distribution. Thinking ‘out of the box’ will likely create a goldmine for those innovative companies who focus on capturing the sweet spot in the new value chain, and rapidly scale the new business model(s) across the main cities and towns in their chosen regions.
The moves to localise supply chains provide a major opportunity to rethink both design and operation, with the aim of finally moving away from traditional batch processes to adopt digital, continuous and bio-enabled technology to create a safer, greener, faster, cheaper and more flexible manufacturing footprint.