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EF: 2020 was focused on diagnostics, 2021 was focused on vaccinations, 2022 people are focused on treatment, what was the role of DHL during the pandemic?
AA: We saw at the beginning of the pandemic that medicine would need to appear. We did a white paper on what would happen when a vaccine was available and contacted the healthcare authorities and governments across the world as we are based in 220 countries and territories, telling them that they must be ready. In March when news of the first vaccine appeared, there was an assumption that we were done but that was not the reality, we invested in infrastructure. In the white paper, we identified the gaps to be covered in terms of the supply chain to succeed in delivering vaccines.
We discussed with pharmaceutical companies about our whitepaper and communicated our intentions of partnering with the Healthcare sector, investing in refrigerators, systems, and other healthcare requirements to close the infrastructure gap. DHL Medical Express (WMX) is service-oriented to healthcare and is adapted perfectly to distribute vaccines. We offered to the pharmaceutical companies this form of help in connecting to the countries. The first delivery was in Israel, and we learnt a lot about the whole experience. The logistics and customs of each country differ and so in many countries, we waited until the vaccine had approval from governments. We are very happy, we have delivered 2 billion vaccines in the world and of those, over 400 million of them were in Latin America.
EF: Did you introduce new KPIs?
AA: Yes, the WMX has a specific KPI that is constantly monitored as it should not be opened or changed because this can result in problems with the vaccine. The normal indicator for us was the deliver in 24 hours, on time or in good condition. In this case, the most critical KPI was to ensure that the box was never damaged, opened or had a temperature change. The indicator sends constant messages to a control centre where we ensure that the product is OK.
EF: What is the role of technology in logistics with advancing service?
AA: In the past two years we have advanced so much in logistics and distribution due to the pandemic. It also depends on the sector, for example, collaboration with robots is becoming more critical. It also depends on the country; the more advanced countries rely on automated production. This brings the need for collaborative robots. In the less advanced countries, this is not needed as there is a healthy workforce. This is creating a gap between countries, but technology is advancing very fast. And this is in healthcare, too. As an example, in Mexico, we have implemented 72 lockers as people are worried about physical contact, and these lockers ensure that they can obtain the packages with no human contact. There is also the technology of real-time information which is becoming a normal basis in the logistics industry. In the context of healthcare, this is about having the right product at the right time for a person in a hospital and it creates the best for the supply chain through financial savings and having the best schedule for the person who needs it.
EF: How did you see the market in Mexico and what challenges did you find?
AA: There are parts of the healthcare industry that are controlled and you need approvals for vehicles to deliver specific products. It is a very wide system because there are also medicines that do not need approvals to deliver, and there are very specific approvals for things such as human tissue. For example, as supply chains continue to develop access in remote areas will also develop. This is what we call the democratization of the supply chain, it is ensuring that every person in every part of the world can have access. E-Commerce has opened this democratization because it is forced the logistics companies to go to smaller towns.
EF: What is the relative importance of the healthcare division to DHL Mexico?
AA: For us, healthcare is growing at a very fast pace. The population is ageing, and they have more money to spend on healthcare. All the products that assist with ageing need to be in a supply chain and shipped. That means for us, the healthcare industry has a lot of potential and areas for us to develop in. As an example, with other divisions, we are managing the millrun, which is the delivery of all types of products needed in a hospital in a single day. Small and medium hospital chains can save money through having a centralized inventory and making the delivery with a dedicated vehicle. One of the products we offer is "delivery in 60 minutes", a product from a warehouse can be delivered with a motorcycle to a hospital for an emergency operation within that time. DHL is also very good at delivering across countries, the main strength of ours is delivering individual packages specifically made in countries to another, and this can be done by express, cargo, sea or by air.
EF: How do you orchestrate between the different sectors?
AA: The company created a group that coordinates across the different divisions, and we have 9,000 people that are experts in healthcare across the world. W. This strategy will continue to help us into the future as populations continue to grow healthier and live longer due to advancing healthcare.
EF: What do you think are the opportunities in Mexico to grow in terms of the logistic sector for healthcare?
AA: Mexico is divided, there are the three big cities, twenty medium cities and then two hundred medium towns that are taking 80% of GDP and then thousands of towns. The risk and opportunity are how can we move healthcare from the big cities to the medium cities, as medium cities are closer to the small towns. Small towns do not have operations such as eye or arm operations, they happen in medium towns. The big opportunity for the supply chain is to make sure that those medium towns are supplied. An example is San Miguel de Allende which has a wealthy retired population, this town is a big opportunity and shows that areas with wealthy retired populations are a big opportunity.
EF: What would you like to celebrate from achieving in 2022?
AA: Our mantra as a company is that we improve lives, delivering 2 billion vaccines complied with that. For the last two years in the world, we have been an industry that works a lot. When the towns were closed, we were delivering. For us, it is coming back to say we did it and we survived. The company served the world, it grew, and our employees are OK. If we do a great day today delivering, we are going to have a future tomorrow. With our employees we are a family, if they had any problems regarding health, we provided for them.
EF: How did you keep your employees engaged and how will they remember the last two years?
AA: We provide family days for our employees and before the pandemic, attendance was around 8,000 and when we moved them virtually, they grew to 80,000. In remembering the pandemic, as Mexicans, we say that we survived the top periods, and so we will say that we did it again, we survived again.
It all starts with the employees. If you have employees that believe in the company then they will deliver great service, that is our mentality. Our employees need to be the best and believe in what we are doing. We are the number one best place to work in the world, and that gives us the capacity to say that we are going something important and what you are doing is important.
February 28, 2022