SA Water has attributed its ability to maintain ongoing water and wastewater services during COVID-19 to its strong supply chain partnerships. 

In the early stages of the pandemic, a proactive and comprehensive management approach, which included risk assessments of critical suppliers and bulk advance procurement, secured the utility’s supply chain.

SA Water Senior Manager Supply Chain, Nicola Murphy, said its mature approach provided confidence in its supply chain.

“Our supply chain is healthy at the moment and we’re well prepared to respond to any potential issues materialising from the wider economic impacts of COVID-19,” Ms Murphy said.

“While the pandemic’s impact spread across the world, we swiftly engaged our partners and worked closely with individual suppliers to understand and overcome any potential issues in their supply chains.

“Harnessing our supplier data, which measures total expenditure and strategic importance, we systematically identified the materials and suppliers that critically support maintaining essential services and checked in with them to understand if they’ve highlighted any risks to their business or the ongoing supply to SA Water.

“By working together early, we can identify potential issues and solutions, as well as ways to support each other and we’re maintaining an open, constructive dialogue to discuss any significant developments.”

A dedicated person is responsible for each of SA Water’s seven purchasing categories, which covers all areas of the supply chain, from IT to operational equipment and material.

“Assessing our supply chain identified only a small number of potential issues for capital projects which were successfully mitigated through bulk procuring in advance and locating alternate suppliers,” Ms Murphy said.

“The vital chemicals used in water and wastewater treatment processes are all sourced within Australia and their manufacturers have many months’ contingency supply on hand in the country at all times, so these remain very secure and ensure we can continue supplying safe, clean water for our customers.”

Ms Murphy said they are now focused on supporting partners and suppliers by driving economic activity.

“Our full program of capital work continues to push work into the market, ensuring initiatives that will improve our services are progressing and our delivery partners and their supply chains are kept working,” Ms Murphy said.

“Changing our payment terms to one business day following approval of an invoice is also helping payments move as quickly as possible to contribute to the local economy.

“While we are confident in our supply chain and our understanding of it, the intensity with which we monitor it and respond to the slightest issues that begin to emerge, will remain for the foreseeable future.

“Coming through loud and strong is our suppliers’ commitment to supporting not only us, but their own businesses, people and the wider economy, and their collective resilience is evident.

“Standing with our partners will see us through to the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic and our customers can be reassured we’re in a secure position to continue providing reliable services.”

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