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Strategic planning and innovation helped BHP supply chains weather the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the company’s group procurement officer.

In a virtual speech to the International Mining and Resources Conference on Tuesday, Sundeep Singh said productive relationships built with suppliers had allowed BHP to continue to operate during the unprecedented crisis.

“We knew our partnerships were going to be a key differentiator for shared business value, but the way that came to life through COVID-19 was so much more amplified than anything we could have expected,” Mr Singh said.

“So many of you answered that call to arms, you stepped into that space and showed us not only how to survive but we came out of it better and stronger – more resilient.”

Mr Singh said COVID-19 was only the latest crisis to test the strength of BHP’s supply chains, and lessons learned would be carried into the future to ensure the company retained a competitive edge.

“Supply chains have had to withstand massive market change, rising trade tensions, disruptive technologies, the effects of climate change and now COVID-19,” he said.

“These challenges have really showed us that supply chains not only need to be cost-effective and reliable, but truly resilient and sustainable.”

Mr Singh said navigating issues like COVID-19 and its dramatic impact meant looking at new ways around how supply chains could work best.

“Navigating these complexities to thrive in a new normal requires us to rethink our supply chain, to build a supply chain that can actually adapt and remain agile, all the while remaining safe, removing waste and pulling cost out,” he said.

Mr Singh said BHP’s partnership with Compass, which provides facilities management support for its Australian operations, was a perfect example of working together during a crisis.

“Our partnership with Compass was critical during COVID-19,” he said.

“We could not have done this successfully with a transactional approach.

“Instead, partnership led Compass through this time, and through this difficult year, to build a facility in Perth known as “The Academy”.

“The Academy includes a training kitchen, juice and barista training stations and simulation accommodation rooms.   

“The benefit is twofold: our BHP residents benefit from the higher standards and the skills of the Compass staff to manage this new COVID normal.

“Compass benefits via improved customer satisfaction, but also the ability to train their people more broadly, for roles outside of BHP. 

“We now have a continued safe flow of people and a better experience for our workforce on site.”

Mr Singh said the COVID-19 experience had shown what could be achieved when organisations worker together.

“Through real partnerships we have shown how resilient our businesses can be when faced with challenges that were previously unthinkable,” he said.