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APR 11

Resilience




At times of great stress and pressure concerns that in normal circumstances sit at the edges of consideration suddenly take centre stage. Largely we find our disaster plans to be a disaster and we fall back to the commitment to somehow keep walking despite the obstacles. This keeping on keeping on is the essence of resilience. At times of disaster, at a personal level, at the firm level, at the level of community, of nation and from a global perspective reflections on resilience are natural. In early 2008 The Economist ran an article, The Fragility of Perfection, which examined this issue in terms of global supply chains. It is worth a read. It has taken less than a week for a parts shortage to stop a General Motors truck plant in Shreveport, Louisiana – we live in a small highly interdependent world.

Most of Christchurch really felt the 22nd February earthquake. The retail in the central business district was and is being hit very hard; there is no access, no customers, no revenue; tourism and professional services likewise have little access, and fewer customers mean lower revenues. Manufacturing plants are mostly spread around suburban areas with most having customers outside Christchurch and New Zealand. As a sector manufacturing has demonstrated natural resilience; individual firms particularly in Bromley and Woolston have suffered and some will close but generally the sectors’ resilience in the face of this sort of event is clear.

Most have not missed a shipment; even those cordoned out of their business for two weeks are now catching up and supporting others in their respective supply chains. The expectation is that it will largely be business as usual for those firms not affected badly by the quake before the end of April; there are reports of heroic efforts to keep going and these will come out in due course.

Building replacement will take much longer. Relocation will encounter consent issues, and the infrastructure to support and approve activity must be made clear and simple to ease this transition. Individual resilience is insufficient we need to think about what it means for firms, communities and New Zealand. Two significant events deals with the mind-set that “we have had the big one” - if we can suffer two such events why not another?

So what does resilience mean?
• Priorities – infrastructure, focus on the “must haves”
• More focus on the “what ifs”, preparation for another disaster
• Clear statements on constraints –building codes and zoning standards for new and existing buildings.
• Diversity in type, time and space – avoiding placing the eggs all in one basket.

In the short term co-operation between firms can make a big difference, I would like to remind everyone that our MEAssist function is available for anyone that requires assistance or anyone with spare factory space, expertise or anything else they feel may be useful. To use this function email mea@mea.org.nz or phone (03) 3532540.

There are some accounts of how some Canterbury manufacturers have recovered since the earthquake here.
 


tags: canterbury earthquake
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