How a little-known company kept Apple products on the market — and previewed a future less dependent on China...The little-known, Singapore-based company had to improvise when the coronavirus started spreading in China to make sure their operations didn't collapse. Its journey through the pandemic illuminates how globalization could evolve.The main force for stability in the emerging world order may be the vast global network of buyers and suppliers that continually shifts its loci of operations as competing nation states flail about, imagining that they are running the show, while the distributed intelligence of smaller more local units of function, integrated by cloud-based systems analyzing supply and demand, is actually what matters. Lynch's article describes the remarkable ability of Singapore based Flex Ltd. (160,000 workers, 100 facilities in 30 different countries, annual revenue over $24 billion) to adapt to the sudden shut down of its China operations (50,000 workers) supplying Apple. (Flex has been making Mac Pros in an Austin TX plant since 2013 - the plant Trump claimed to have opened on a Nov. 2019 visit, proving he was bringing back high paying jobs to America.)
...as Flex’s evolution demonstrates, the pandemic did not — and likely will not — end globalization. Instead, it turbocharged trends that already were in motion when the virus first flared, including a diminishing reliance on China...Armed with data and facing a perilous world, more companies recalculated the balance between cost and resilience, between efficiency of production and certainty of delivery, and imagined a less-China-centric economy.
From a Flex command post in Milpitas, Calif., Lynn Torrel, the company’s chief procurement officer, monitors 16,000 suppliers and more than 1 million individual items using a data analytics tool called Pulse. Introduced in 2015, the cloud-based system gobbles data from 88 sources, providing a cohesive view of the multinational’s operation. Arrayed on a wall, 22 video screens provided near-real-time information on every .0005-cent screw and each integrated circuit costing hundreds of dollars...Each weekday on a 5:30 a.m. conference call, Torrel and the logistics team juggles priorities as the virus disrupts their tightly choreographed network.The subsequent text describes the amazing flexibility and resilience of Flex's response to constantly shifting patterns of travel restrictions and country specific shutdowns and openings.