Palladium Logistics team preparing cargo for distribution.
Since February, Palladium’s logistics team in Australia has been working to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical devices for several countries throughout Asia Pacific on behalf of the Australia Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). From Vanuatu to Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Solomon Islands, these long-term logistics exercises have been known to take up to four months, due to the difficulties of procuring such globally high-demand items. In what the team dubbed ‘Good Will Impact’, they were tasked with providing the Australian Department of Defence ("Defence") with delivery of PPE to the Government of Indonesia on a consolidated timeline of just 8 weeks.
With the steady rise of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia, getting the Government supplies while they could still make a difference for vulnerable frontline workers was imperative.
Defence initially approached Palladium in June with the proposal of providing Indonesia and the National Military of Indonesia (TNI) with PPE supplies. “We were asked to help the TNI military with what we call PPE kits,” says Jared Weyandt, Palladium Project Logistics Manager. “In these kits are a range of items, from masks, gowns, gloves – all those things from a global standpoint that everybody has been trying to get since COVID-19 broke out.”
Delivering in time to make a difference
At the time, rising demand, panic buying, hoarding, and misuse, was causing a global shortage of PPE. Prices were surging for items and supply chains were struggling to keep up with the unprecedented demands, adding to the challenge of providing PPE quickly.
Weyandt adds, “Because we had developed very strong relationships with suppliers globally, having been doing it at that point for four months, we were able to leverage some of our existing relationships and procure everything in just four weeks.”
On top of the extreme global demand for PPE, the team had to navigate the secondary grey market of counterfeit items. According to The Washington Post, “The international market for desperately needed medical masks is riddled with fraud. Up and down the supply chain, from factories to hospitals, opportunists are benefiting from the chaotic market as prices have quintupled.”
Throughout the procurement process, the team had to ensure they were buying PPE that met the standards of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and that they were reputable products, so they focused on utilising reputable Australian suppliers and leveraging existing relationships.
“We did not want to send something over that didn’t meet WHO standards or put people at risk to get infected” Weyandt notes.
After just 26 days, the Palladium Logistics team had procured a total of 976,900 medical items, including isolation gowns, gloves, hand sanitiser, masks, thermometers, face shields, and disposable footwear.
The next hurdle the team had to jump was actually getting the supplies from the warehouse in Brisbane, Australia to Indonesia. Much like the supply chain for PPE and other COVID-19 protection items, the transport freight industry has also been disrupted globally.
Faced with inflated prices and fewer than usual carriers, it was difficult to find an affordable transport option simply due to a supply and demand problem. After testing the market and engaging with commercial entities, the team determined there were no feasible options for delivering the items in one shipment. So, Defence stepped in to help with delivery. The Royal Australian Air Force successfully delivered all of the PPE to Indonesia on two dedicated C-130 aircraft.
The Palladium Logistics team has earned a reputation for ‘just getting things done’ when it comes to delivering complicated exercises in short timeframes.
“When Defence first engaged Palladium to procure and deliver critical PPE items to Indonesia in an 8-week period, we were unsure if it was even feasible," Weyandt recalls. "However, the team buckled down to deliver a successful exercise and maintain our leading reputation. We look forward to the next challenge and opportunity to support Defence."
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