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OMP to the rescue: when COVID-19 knocks out an entire planning department

Sven Van Otten - January 20, 2021

Reading time: 2 min


“When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions!” says Claudius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, as his world collapses around him. He was musing about how, when bad things happen, they don’t happen in isolation, and other bad stuff is just around the corner. But it doesn’t have to be that way.


If anything can go wrong, it will

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Imagine if a virus knocked out your entire planning department in a particularly cruel example of Murphy’s law in action. That’s exactly what happened to one of our customers, a major Italian packaging company, in October 2020 when a team of supply chain planners in their Belgian operation were all infected by the COVID-19 virus.

Every single day that production was shut down had a huge impact downstream. It’s a planner’s biggest nightmare, and I know that because I was a packaging planner for many years.

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A ship without a captain

The company contacted us for urgent expert assistance to get their production back on track. Exceptional times require exceptional measures. Together, we analyzed how we could get their planning operation up and running again, and fast. Production was at a standstill, and the operation was now effectively a ship without a captain.

We had to act quickly which brought quite some challenges for our packaging supply chain team. My biggest challenge was to design an emergency training package for the company’s hastily assembled backup team who had never before used the OMP Solution. And the training had to be ready for teaching to start the following day to get orders running through the corrugator again as quickly as possible.

This rapid response meant that the company was back up and running within four days.


A battalion to the rescue

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Acting as captain until the backup planners had everything under control was a fun time, and I was honored to share my knowledge and experience.

For me, the best part of the adventure was turning Shakespeare’s aphorism on its head by figuratively bringing a battalion to the rescue! For the customer, there was relief that their service level agreement remained intact as a metric of reliability, with any major disruption avoided downstream. The whole operation was a smooth and successful collaboration between our expert team and the customer.


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Does your planning team need assistance in your specialist area? Get in touch to see what we can do for you.

Sven Van Otten

Senior Technical Trainer at OMP BE


Starting at Janssen as a quality engineer, Sven began his planning career at packaging company Smurfit Kappa, a longstanding OMP customer. He has continued to lecture since 2013 at Artesis Plantijn University College Antwerp, and joined OMP in 2018. 

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