When coronavirus began to spread rapidly across the globe in March, we at Inspectorio asked the same question as many others in our industry: what can we do to help?
As a SaaS company specializing in supply chain visibility and compliance, it soon became clear how we could best contribute to protecting lives from the pandemic: by offering our Rise platform for free.
Rise allows brands, retailers, vendors, and factories to remotely ensure the safety of workers in their partner facilities. We worked quickly to outfit the platform with COVID-specific capabilities and soon found, to our delight, that companies around the world were onboarding the software to protect workers in their supply chains.
Today we would like to take a look back over this initiative, why we decided on it, and most importantly, to honor and hear from those organizations that took part.
The threat to places of production
The decision to center this initiative around Rise stemmed from careful study of the virus’ behavior. In an open letter to the industry on April 8, Inspectorio CEO and Co-Founder Carlos Moncayo Castillo wrote, “Right now, the catastrophic impact of the virus is being felt in places where the storefronts are located. But soon it will reach places where the products are produced.”
This prediction has held. The virus, despite originating in China, soon began to proliferate in high-income countries like the United States, Spain, Italy, and France, where brick-and-mortar storefronts quickly closed to prevent transmission. Places of production, which tend to have fragile economies and weak healthcare systems, experienced a sudden evaporation of demand for products that resulted in factory closures and worker furloughs. Many also implemented strict lockdown measures at this time to help contain the virus.
In places like Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Cambodia, another type of crisis soon developed. While the lack of demand from high-income countries offered some degree of protection from COVID-19, it also meant a lack of income for millions of people.
Employees have had no choice but to return to work whenever the opportunity arises. High-income countries have battled through the thick of their first contagion waves. Periodic storefront reopenings have caused empty factories to come back to life, drawing millions of people back to work. Hence, while high-income countries have already passed their first peaks, countries of production will experience delayed outbreaks due simply to the economics of demand.
India has already experienced the effects of this delayed outbreak. Whereas the US reached 500+ daily deaths by March, India did not pass this threshold until July. The same pattern continues to threaten other places of production.
Why we chose Rise
The biggest concern for us was how brands, retailers and suppliers could protect both lives and livelihoods — that is, how they could reactivate their production chains without putting factory workers at risk.
The answer was to quickly and effectively disseminate health and safety guidelines to all factories and to closely monitor compliance with those guidelines. As our CEO, Carlos Moncayo, stated in his open letter, “Just as we are indirectly responsible for ensuring the social and environmental standards of our partner facilities, we are doubly responsible for ensuring that human beings are not risking a devastating outbreak to build our products. […] We must act now, and we must do it together as an industry.”
However, without insight into what was happening on the ground, and with suppliers and factories scattered across the globe, the challenge for brands and retailers was how to effectively deploy new health and safety guidelines, monitor compliance, and address non-compliance and areas to improve, all in a way that was fast and scalable.
The Inspectorio Rise platform was uniquely positioned to help organizations implement health and safety audits remotely and at scale. They can leverage real-time updates while monitoring COVID-19, issue automatic corrective action plans, leverage powerful supply chain analytics to mitigate the risk of further factory closures, and most importantly, protect lives. Because of this, we offered use of the Rise platform free of charge for any organization who wanted to take part.
To those companies that got involved
On behalf of Inspectorio, your colleagues, and the countless workers you have endeavored to keep safe: thank you. Like so many others, you identified the staggering human toll that could result from this virus and took action to ensure your partners stayed safe.
Organizations joined this initiative for a wide variety of reasons. According to Katrina Bryant, Founder of cut-and-sew garment manufacturer firm Purnaa, partnering with Inspectorio has meant that “employers, workers, and business partners all have peace of mind that production is being done safely and is not putting workers at risk.” She writes that “we are equipping workers with needed jobs and salaries to survive in a time when many are going unemployed.” Several months after adopting the our digital platform, Purnaa reports seeing a 30% improvement in safety score and has kept their staff and company safe and will continue to do so in the long term. Bryant also notes that Inspectorio Academy helped the company prepare to respond to COVID-19 by showing them “how to implement the safety rules — particularly if any employees are COVID-19 positive — how we can minimize the risk that it would transmit to others on the team.”
The Inspectorio Rise Resource Center, Academy courses, and library of COVID-19 guidelines has helped Interloop Limited, the Pakistan-based garment manufacturer, implement health initiatives across their many factories. “The Rise platform has enabled all plants to work on the health and safety readiness programs for COVID-19,” said a spokesperson, “by monitoring the procedures and activities, and consequently, taking corrective actions for continuous improvement in real-time.”
When Pakistan appeared to be poised on the edge of a COVID-19 outbreak, Interloop used Rise to take a “centralized view of health and safety assessments” within their factories. Rise’s real-time COVID-19 updates allowed them to take proactive measures “to safeguard the health and safety of our people, across all plants.” Rise’s “smooth and efficient connectivity across all operational networks” has helped Interloop manage their operational risk during this unprecedented time.
Similarly, Barcelona-based fashion firm Mango onboarded Rise to “verify that all the necessary security measures are applied to protect the health of workers,” according to La Vanguardia. They used the platform to collect and analyze audit data across their workforce of around 15,000, advising their suppliers on how to correct problems and avoid outbreaks.
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) took early action by using Rise to bring safety protocols to their domestic facility members. This has helped workers “get back to work efficiently and safely,” and has nurtured a higher level of trust among workers and clients alike.
Hannah Badminton, Senior Account Manager of SupplyCompass, writes that Inspectorio Rise’s self-inspections capabilities make factories “part of the process rather than having to shoulder the costs of audits.” These made it possible to ensure health and safety protocols across their entire supply chain, according to Textile Value Chain. Badminton also notes that having full visibility over each factory’s health and safety programs “allowed us to share accurate real-time information,” which is “much easier for brands to understand than government regulations.”
Another organization has noted Inspectorio’s improvement of real-time operational risk management, from its modules and features to “automatically built and updated KPIs, ….reference standards and questionnaires, …[and the] flexibility to check these features from the cellphone or to edit them to further adapt them to the customer needs.”
The impact of the Rise COVID-19 initiative
This initiative has had far-reaching effects across the industry: Hundreds of Brands, Retailers and Suppliers have taken part, conducting thousands of COVID-19 Health and Safety assessments, at thousands of facilities. In the process, they have protected tens of thousands of workers and those workers’ greater communities.
As we enter the new normal post COVID-19, we hope an increasing number of organizations will onboard technology to protect lives and livelihoods across their supply chains. We believe that true partnership extends far beyond profits — if we have the ability to prevent catastrophe in places of production, it is imperative that we take every possible step to do so. With Inspectorio software, organizations can do this while simultaneously creating long-term efficiency and proactive resilience against future disruptions.