As U.S. hospitals became overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began building and stocking alternate care facilities across the country.

Because FEMA is working as fast as possible to meet the growing demand for hospital beds, supply chain visibility — including real-time tracking into the shipments of equipment and supplies — is critical. A delayed shipment can impact the opening and running of the temporary hospital and its ability to care for patients.

Logistics accounts for about 80 percent of disaster response efforts, according to Dr. Nezih Altay, director of M.S. in Supply Chain Management at DePaul University’s Driehaus College of Business. To manage the transportation of supplies to some of their temporary hospitals, FEMA partnered with RJW Logistics Group, a leading retail logistics and consolidation provider.

“This pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty in our communities, and we wanted to be able to give back in as many ways as possible,” said Ryan Pikus, CIO of RJW Logistics Group. ​“Real-time supply chain visibility is a requirement for the FEMA loads we carried with construction materials for a vital COVID-19 coronavirus relief center at McCormick Place in Chicago. It also helped us to adhere to tight construction deadlines as the pandemic grew more and more serious.”

RJW turned to project44, an SAP partner and a global leader in advanced visibility for shippers and logistics service providers. They onboarded the necessary carriers to its project44 network for RJW’s use.

“RJW was able to monitor shipments and provide FEMA with access to the latest updates using our Visibility Operations Center,” project44 Founder and CEO Jett McCandless shared. “With access to high-fidelity supply chain visibility data in real time, everyone can make more informed decisions, increase agility, and proactively handle issues — especially when time is critical.”

Less than two hours after contacting project44, RJW was tracking shipments from a leading multinational retailer to FEMA’s temporary hospital at Chicago’s McCormick Place,  the largest convention center in North America, which has been transformed in partnership with the U.S Army Corp of Engineers.

Converting three exhibition halls into field hospitals created about 3,000 beds and provide potentially life-saving healthcare for patients who test positive for COVID-19.

“Contributing to an effort like this was really incredible,” project44 Chief Revenue Officer Tim Bertrand said. “It’s using the technology and know-how from each company, setting up a connection and access to data within a matter of hours, and applying it in a way that can really help people in a time of need. I’m proud we were able to play a part.”

To support the COVID-19 response, project44 is providing free tracking for organizations — including non-profits, non-governmental organization (NGOs), government agencies, hospitals, pharmacies, grocers, farmers, and food banks — to help coronavirus relief and prevention efforts. This includes supply chain visibility of over-the-road tracking in North America, truckload tracking in Europe, and ocean tracking for inbound freight to North America. For additional information on project44, see “SAP Teams with project44 to Help Shippers Manage and Improve Data-Driven Global Supply Chains.”

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