Inside Logistics

Feds fund research into Covid-19 supply chain effects

Researchers at York University and the University of Manitoba will look into logistics planning and pharmaceutical supply chain disruptions


April 8, 2020
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OTTAWA – As part of an evolving effort to fund research into the medical and socio-economic effects of the pandemic, the federal government announced that two supply chain researchers have been added to the list of academics receiving funding.

Adolf Ng of the University of Manitoba will research “Epidemic logistical response and planning” with a grant of $258,900, and Fuminori Toyasaki from York University will investigate “Countermeasures to the supply chain disruptions in medical and pharmaceutical industries” with $130,600 funding.

These projects were made possible with new money from Research Manitoba, Research Nova Scotia, and Alberta Innovates, enabling the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to fund a total of 99 grants with a total investment of $54.2 million.

Logistics systems

Adolf Ng

Ng is a professor of transportation and supply chain management at the Asper School of Business of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, and made the news this week with the revelation that his Canadian citizenship was fast-tracked to allow him to travel to China for his research.

He will be researching how logistics systems can adapt to large scale epidemics. The research prospectus points out that there is little information on this topics, yet supply chain logistics is key to “social security and prosperity”.

The goal of this project is “to develop effective logistical strategies and solutions to tackle the social impacts caused by sudden, large-scale epidemic outbreaks so as to enhance the resilience of cities, countries, and societies.”

It will investigate how different demographic groups perceive and react to social impacts and logistics strategies in tackling Covid-19. It will also attempt to identify attributes that will aid in information sharing and coordination between cities and countries in epidemic logistics planning, and find ways to facilitate the transfer that knowledge to areas that have weak health systems.

Another portion of the research will focus on government planning and response to epidemics and aims to develop logistics “strategies, solutions, and a supporting framework” to help governments and societies to mitigate the rapid spread of Covid-19.

“By improving the logistical response and planning, we strongly believe that this project will secure healthier and more secure societies in Canada, China, and around the world in the long term,” the prospectus concluded.

Medical and pharmaceutical industries

Fuminori Toyasaki

At York University in Toronto associate professor of administrative studies Fuminori Toyasaki specializes in the area of sustainable supply chain designs involving environmental and disaster/emergency issues. His research interests are closed-loop supply chains and humanitarian logistics.

His project on countermeasures to supply chain disruptions in medical and pharmaceutical industries will look at suppliers’ strategic hoarding and consumers’ panic buying behavior under psychological and behavioral uncertainties.

The research will explore factors that delay the resilience of medical/pharmaceutical industries’ response to supply chain disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It will study the feasibility of two countermeasures to the outbreak, first establishing a collaborative stock sharing/transshipment system; and second making an incentive contract with a potential second source that can produce highly customized medical/pharmaceutical items (e.g., protective clothing for or a new drug for novel viruses).