Planning digital transformation during a pandemic
We are now entering a time of unpredictability and volatility for businesses, triggering the imagination when it comes to the impact of technology on private life, business and society.
In many cases, the coronavirus pandemic will bring into question how we use and engage with digital technologies, which have now become intimately entwined with business change.
To this extent ‘digital transformation’ has become a pleonasm and the next twelve months will be defined by businesses’ ability to survive in a time of uncertainty and a renewed quest for simplicity.
Simplicity is what is needed – in the form of simple messages, instant action, zero friction and a continuous stream of exciting and rewarding signature moments.
US overtakes China in number of COVID-19 cases
The US has overtaken China as the country with the most COVID-19 cases, as the number of confirmed cases reaches 86,000. The number of deaths in the US has reached 1,300.
US President Donald Trump has attributed this spike in cases to an increase in coronavirus testing. Despite this, the president has publicly said he hopes to have the country reopened by Easter Sunday.
22 states have now instructed residents to stay at home, only leaving to buy food or medical supplies. These measures are thought to affect 49% of the US population, according to Business Insider.
Covid-19: Supremex provides updates on business operations continuity
Paper-based packaging solutions provider Supremex has provided updates on the steps being taken to ensure continuity of business operations amid the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The company is in operations to continue business in order to keep serving its customers.
The North American manufacturer has already taken measures to prevent liquidation and protect its employees.
Supremex provides packaging solutions to markets including pharmaceutical, food and e-commerce industries.
The company operates 13 facilities across seven provinces in Canada and three facilities in the US with approximately 935 employees.
The company is also a marketer of envelopes to government entities, financial institutions, utilities and other large organisations.
Supremex noted that its business continuity plan is in effect now, which seeks to further improve safety measures for employees.
The plan also seeks to continue production in all of its 16 North American manufacturing facilities.
Additionally, the management is restricting capital expenditures set aside for the company’s “critical maintenance projects”. Working capital and expenses are also being tightly monitored.
Supremex president and CEO Stewart Emerson said: “We are dedicated to the safety of our employees, their families and of our communities and have implemented rigorous measures to ensure that we safeguard their health and wellbeing.
“We are part of an important supply chain to critical businesses and organisations, and we remain committed to supporting our customers operating in these challenging times.”
Total confirmed cases of Covid-19 coronavirus have climbed to 532,564 globally, while the death toll has reached 24,077.
Jefferies becomes first private-sector company to join RAPID initiative
US-based financial services company Jefferies announced yesterday that it will be joining the Rapid Aseptic Packaging of Injectable Drugs (RAPID) initiative.
Jefferies is the first private-sector entity to join the initiative and will be providing it with access to private-sector capital markets, global financial resources, and an initial capital commitment of $10mn.
Covid-19: EnvyPak to maintain packaging supplies to key industries
Ohio-based EnvyPak has announced that it will maintain its production to continue delivering packaging solutions amid the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.
The company will continue to supply clear specialty packaging items to healthcare and medical sector as well as other industries involved to control the spread of the disease.
EnvyPak president Michele Cole said: “We are considered an essential business because we manufacture packaging products for the Medical and other related service industries. We’re continuing normal EnvyPak production to meet the critical needs of our customers.
“We are taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our own employees, customers, and vendors.”
The company focuses on delivering clear pouches pockets and adhesive-backed sleeves for the medical industry. EnvyPak also supplies CD holders to the testing laboratories that produce Covid-19 test kits and radiation therapy centres.
Furthermore, its packaging solution portfolio includes clear envelopes and mailing supplies for the United States Postal Service (USPS).
Currently, the company also plans to supply durable, clear polypropylene packaging products to other essential businesses.
Cole added: “It’s extremely gratifying to know that we’re helping our country in this time of crisis by our unique manufacturing capabilities and capacities.
“EnvyPak excels at manufacturing and supplying crystal clear, protective packaging for test kits and other products. We love supporting businesses that can provide front-line support to fight this virus.”
Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases in the US has jumped to 69,000.
Coronavirus cybersecurity: Ten tips for secure remote working
As the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect numerous aspects of daily life, workers and employers are adapting to new ways of working.
Although social distancing and social isolation are key to slowing the spread of the virus, they have tested organisations’ infrastructure and remote working practices.
“Remote working on a scale we’ve never seen before has now become a fact of life; doing this without compromising security will be more important than ever,” says Jeremy Hendy, CEO at cybersecurity firm Skurio.
Here are ten key pieces of advice from experts from the cybersecurity industry to help organisations maintain robust security while remote working.
Bizongo to offer supply services to India healthcare sector
Indian B2B packaging company Bizongo is offering digital supply services to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) for the Indian healthcare sector.
The service is available exclusively for hospitals, health centres, pharmacies, essential goods providers, large public entities, and non-governmental organisations.
Bizongo chief operating officer and co-founder Sachin Agarwal said: “Bizongo launched this service to manage the demand-supply gap of PPEs which is crucial for the medical staff at the forefront of this battle against Covid-19.
“Bizongo has currently mapped capacities of around 40 certified manufacturers of PPEs and captured demand from various government authorities across states”
Agarwal added that the company is in talks with other suppliers to source PPEs, masks, sanitisers, and other critical inventory.
He said: “We would appreciate it if more such suppliers join us so that we can provide these critical supplies to the members of the medical fraternity at the forefront of fighting Covid-19.”
The company has also launched a microsite with live tracking of demand and supply due to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.
Earlier this week, Bizongo co-founder Aniket Deb wrote on Twitter that the company has been struggling to provide packaging to customers making essential goods due to warehouse closures.
Last month, Bizongo acquired $30m in Series C funding to expand operations throughout India.
BPF urges government to classify plastic sector workers as essential
The British Plastic Federation (BPF) has asked the UK Government to classify plastic sector employees as key workers during the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak.
In a letter written to members of parliament, BPF stated that packaging is essential and having workers in packaging facilities is crucial.
The letter follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak update earlier this week, which stated that all non-essential workers in the UK must stay in their homes except to shop for essentials. Included in the list of essential workers are key public services employees, food chain workers, teachers, government, utility workers, those working in transport, and those in the public safety sector.
In the letter, BPF director-general Philip Law said: “I am writing to you to call for the urgent introduction of measures to ensure the continued provision of essential household and pharmaceutical goods across the UK, as well as meeting key infrastructure demands. Unless changes are made – in particular, the recognition of key parts of the plastics sector as critical infrastructure – the manufacturing industry will not be able to meet demand.”
Law listed key products supplied by the plastics sector, which include packaging as well as medical equipment, pipes systems, and communications and energy supply systems.
He added: “The BPF is witnessing critical item shortages and government action is needed to address this. For example, there have been estimates of an overall uplift in retail sales last weekend of between 600% and 800%. This has massively increased demand for packaging in addition to other products
“Packaging companies and other key processors are reliant on a steady supply of raw materials, and the polymer distributors who ensure the material reaches those in the supply chain. We urge the government to evaluate the consequences of closing key sites and to recognise that plastic manufacturers are part of the critical infrastructure of the UK.”
Premier Labellers expands production to meet demand for hand sanitiser
UK packaging label machine manufacturer Premier Labellers has expanded production lines in order to satisfy increasing demand for hand sanitiser.
The company announced earlier today that demand for hand sanitiser has gone “above and beyond” due to the Covid-19 coronavirus epidemic. Premier has taken actions to implement additional lines dedicated to this service.
Premier will be producing large quantities of hand sanitisers through its packaging machinery and flagship labelling machines. The process will include filling, capping, labelling, coding, packing, and distributing around 3,000 bottles per hour, per line.
Premier managing director Tracie White said: “As key workers, we now have a commitment to the UK to meet the demand and get these much needed products out to the customer and the public.”
Premier operations director Damian McGloin said: “Our current objectives are to maximise our production up-time to meet the demand and help the cause to the best of our ability.”
Premier Labelling recently appointed Tracie White as owner of the company, which is now planning to re-brand.
How are packaging companies responding to Covid-19?
The Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has been affecting the packaging industry and left many businesses having to make big decisions on how to progress. Packaging Gateway looks at how five packaging companies are responding.
UK Government announces closure of non-essential businesses
Last night, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced more stringent, semi-lockdown measures for the UK to encourage social distancing.
These included only allowing people out of their homes to shop for basic necessities, exercise once a day, any medical appointments and to go to work if absolutely necessary.
To the end of discouraging people from leaving their houses for any other reasons, the UK Government closed all non-essential shops, including clothing and electronics retail stores, hair and beauty salons, and markets, except those selling food.
The police and other relevant authorities will be given powers to enforce these social distancing rules, including issuing out fines.
Global GDP may drop by 1% in 2020, says Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs expects global real gross domestic product to contract by about 1 per cent in 2020, a sharper economic decline than in the year following the 2008 global financial crisis.
“The coronacrisis or more precisely, the response to that crisis — represents a physical (as opposed to financial) constraint on economic activity that is unprecedented in postwar history,” the investment bank said in a note to its clients published late on Sunday according to India Today.
UBS Securities cuts India’s FY21 real GDP growth forecast to 4%
Financial Express has reported on a UBS Securities research note that expects India to clock a 4.8% growth in FY20. “For the full year, we now expect India’s real GDP growth to slow further to 4% year-on-year in FY21 (previously 5.1%).”
“The challenge for India vs its peers is starker if infections spread rapidly considering the higher density of population per capita and weaker health infrastructure,” UBS’ economist Tanvee Gupta Jain said.
OECD expects economic fallout to be felt ‘for a long time to come’
Speaking to CNBC, the OECD’s secretary general, Angel Gurria, stated: “What you have is an economic effect now that, very clearly, is going to be prolonged beyond the period of the pandemic.”
“We’ll hopefully get rid of the pandemic in the next two or three months and then the question is how many unemployed (will there be), how many small and medium-sized enterprises will be in a very, very severe situation if not disappeared by that time.”
“Life, and economic activity, is not going to be normalized any time soon,” he said. “We’re going to have the impact of this crisis for a long time to come.”
Covid-19 impact: SCG Packaging postpones $1bn IPO
Thailand’s Siam Cement Group (SCG) Packaging has postponed its $1bn initial public offering (IPO) as a result of the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak rattling global financial markets.
The plan has been deployed indefinitely till the equity markets stabilise according to Reuters who cited sources familiar with the matter. However, they did not provide any specific timeframe for the plan to be revived.
SCG, the parent firm of the packaging company, originally planned to launch the IPO in the first half of this year.
A SCG spokesperson told the news agency: “With travel restrictions, volatile financial markets, and the Covid-19 measures, SCG Packaging continues to monitor the IPO timeline.”
The company is yet to officially confirm the move.
In October last year, SCG announced plans that it will float 30% stake of the packaging business and will continue to hold the remaining majority stake.
If the plan advanced, the proceeds received from the IPO would have been used to fund SCG Packaging’s expansion strategy.
Besides Thailand, SCG Packaging operates paper packaging facilities in Vietnam and the Philippines. It also has paper packaging and flexible packaging plants in Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore.
Meanwhile, the Covid-19 outbreak has spread to more than 147 countries.
The disease, which originated from China, has killed more than 7,900 people globally. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases also crossed 198,000.
Coronavirus “can survive up to three days” on packaging: Study
A study released Friday has found that the coronavirus HCoV-19, which is causing the Covid-19 pandemic, can survive on packaging for between 24 hours and three days depending on the surface material.
The study was led by researchers from Princeton University and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Montana, US. It assessed the aerosol and surface stability of HCoV-19 and estimated virus decay rates.
It found that the virus could be detected in aerosols up to three hours following aerosolisation, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to three days on plastic.
Covid-19 is spread by droplets that fall onto surfaces or hands when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
The report said: “Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of HCoV-19 are plausible, as the virus can remain viable and infectious in aerosols for multiple hours and on surfaces up to days.”
The research was pre-printed in light of the Covid-19 epidemic and is yet to be peer reviewed.
London-based restaurant Wahlburgers general manager Wedson Soares told Packaging Gateway: “Our priority as a company and a member of our community remains the health, safety, and well-being of our team and guests.
“We have also introduced enforcing double bags of all takeaway items. When we prepare our food deliveries, we have advised the customer to take the internal bag, thus avoiding any contact.”
A representative from the British Plastic Federation told Packaging Gateway: “Plastic packaging is designed to be hygienic and adheres to strict legislation, ensuring it is extremely safe. This makes it ideal for packaging food, medicines and pharmaceuticals, where it is designed to be durable, lightweight and secure.
“It reduces risk by using tamper-evident and even child-resistant mechanisms as well as having shatterproof properties. Ensuring the safety of consumers is imperative and plastic packaging provides a sealed, hygienic and safe option.”
Coronavirus could increase flexible packaging demand in China
Flexible packaging could be seeing high demand in China in order to prevent future COVID-19 coronavirus outbreaks.
Analysis released yesterday by Scottish research company Wood Mackenzie associate Brendan Connell-French revealed that China’s packaging industry could be seeing tighter packaging regulations. This is due to COVID-19 drawing attention to health and safety in the food supply chain.
Connell-French said: “The coronavirus outbreak is reportedly thought to have started at a wholesale seafood and meat market in Wuhan. These wet markets can be a breeding ground for the spread of animal-borne diseases and viruses, as both live and butchered animals are handled by staff and customers in a confined area.
“In response to the risk, the Chinese government is reportedly considering a change to meat handling and distribution practices, and tighter regulations could lie ahead. In our view, such a change would likely result in an increased demand for flexible packaging.”
Flexible packaging is any type of packaging where the shape can be easily changed, for example, bags, pouches, tubes, and shrink films.
According to Connell-French, China has a very low average consumption of flexible packaging for the meat and fresh-produce market when compared with Japan, the US, and Western Europe. An increase in consumption through distributing meat in flexible plastic packaging could reduce the risk of a future outbreak.
Connell-French said: “Flexible packaging demand in Asia has been hit by a sluggish regional economy, growing by 4.8% in 2019 – down from 5.6% in 2018. Chinese per capita consumption of flexible packaging for fresh and processed meat and seafood is currently so low, that even subtle shifting of production to larger corporations could have an impact on growth.”
He predicts that there is unlikely to be a complete change in meat-purchasing preferences in China; however, COVID-19 could potentially stimulate a redesign of the meat and fresh-food market and therefore create a need for more flexible packaging.
Coronavirus outbreak risks food packaging supplies from China
Australian supermarket heads have warned that the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak could negatively affect food stock due to packaging supplies from China becoming difficult to obtain.
Ritchies Supa supermarket chief executive Fred Harrison told newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that 76 independent Australian grocers across the East Coast have been warned of supply issues due to temporary factory closures in China.
Harrison said: “As we talk to suppliers, we hear that some of their wrappings or biscuit trays are starting to get a little bit short.
“I don’t think we want another week or two of this. If there’s no production or packaging in from China by the end of March, it’d be getting serious.
“We’re very resilient, Aussies tend to find a way, but I would think definitely there would be some holes appearing in production of products if this is still the same in three weeks’ time.”
In the UK, British Retail Consortium director of food and sustainability Andrew Opie said that British supermarkets are currently able to deal with the supply risk.
Opie told Packaging Gateway: “Retailers are continuing to monitor their supply chains closely and are taking all necessary precautions to ensure consumers have continuous access to products they want.
“They are adept at managing disruption and moving sourcing from one country to another to mitigate any impact. If disruption to supply chains continues and spreads, then retails and consumers may eventually see knock-on effects on cost or availability of goods.”
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said in a statement on Thursday that there have been no reports to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.
Packaging Gateway has approached various supermarkets across the UK for comment, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Waitrose.