In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, paper towels and toilet paper could hardly be found anywhere. Consumer hording was blamed for the empty shelves, but according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, lean manufacturing might be the culprit. The low inventory of supplies made it impossible for manufacturers to respond to the drastic spike in demand for those products. Some argue that even manufacturers who don’t follow lean principles didn’t have sufficient inventory to adapt to the demands of a pandemic. How can manufacturers—lean or not—prepare for once-in-a-lifetime situations such as a pandemic? What can they do to ensure there isn’t a detrimental impact on the manufacturing of their products?
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