Daniel Arias Aranda. Resilience & building of tomorrow

Daniel Arias - La resilencia y la construcción

Daniel Arias Aranda

Chemical-based companies 
will now become companies 
of strategic priority

They will be the pillar on which the economies 
will be based to confront this and future crises that may arise.

 

In these “Strange Days” we are living, which advice would you give to companies to be resilient?

We are living in times of great uncertainty. The time for business decisions has been getting shorter for years. Consumers’ tastes and wishes change very quickly at the same time technology evolves. Companies have been adapting to these changes rapidly for decades.

However, this unexpected turn of events with the Covid19 crisis has left companies without the capacity to respond in a short term. Events have been changing day by day, challenging even the most advanced decision support systems. There will be a paradigm change from this year on we are already living during these “Strange Days”.

Companies, from now on, will have to be much more flexible and have rapid protocol responses already prepared in advance. The key is supply chain management. When the chain fails, losses are sometimes unmanageable. We are experiencing this first-hand with healthcare supplies.

A protocolized emergency strategy involves intermediate warehouses with medical equipment prepared for quick logistic delivery in case of a humanitarian disaster.

Spain had never previously prepared for this, like many other countries, and currently a reactive rather then proactive strategy is being implemented, which makes the virus go ahead of us. 

This case is applicable to the business field soon. Logistics is the key to being prepared for future crisis scenarios.

Climate change is increasingly affecting our lives. What can we do from an economic perspective to make cities more sustainable?

There are two factors that affect sustainability. The first is the development of new technologies, and the second is the effective implementation of those technologies linked to the changes in citizens’ lifestyles.

In large cities, the major sources of pollution come from fuel burning (mainly vehicles and old oil-fired boilers). The implementation of quality public transport for particularly vulnerable groups, as well as the increase in energy efficiency, become fundamental actions for sustainability.

However, citizens need to be aware that the old mobility paradigms will change. In this case, if there is one positive thing about the Covid19 crisis is that it will redesign the way we move around.

Teleworking, whenever possible, avoids unnecessary travel and therefore CO2 emissions. The social distancing to which we will be subjected in the coming months will limit the demand for commuting and perhaps we will consider, whenever possible, the option of walking more.

On the other hand, economies of proximity (purchase of food or supplies from nearby suppliers or even the growth of urban gardens) will increase mainly because of the uncertainty created. Cities will tend towards sustainability out of necessity.

In a sector such as construction, increasingly aware of the implementation of sustainable criteria, what systems or processes should be applied in order to become more eco-efficient?

There are urban concepts such as the Passiv Haus that will necessarily have to be developed and increasingly applied. Materials engineering will play a leading role in designing lighter and more resistant materials at a lower cost.  

In this context, circular economy will be progressively incorporated into the strategic plans of companies. Of course, energy efficiency aimed at self-sufficiency will develop to the extent that people will not want to depend on low-resilience production systems.  

All these concepts are the basis of Industry 4.0 that we will see implemented quickly after this crisis.

In these “Strange Days” we are living, which advice would you give to companies to be resilient?

We are living in times of great uncertainty. The time for business decisions has been getting shorter for years. Consumers’ tastes and wishes change very quickly at the same time technology evolves. Companies have been adapting to these changes rapidly for decades.However, this unexpected turn of events with the Covid19 crisis has left companies without the capacity to respond in a short term. Events have been changing day by day, challenging even the most advanced decision support systems. There will be a paradigm change from this year on we are already living during these “Strange Days”.

Companies, from now on, will have to be much more flexible and have rapid protocol responses already prepared in advance. The key is supply chain management. When the chain fails, losses are sometimes unmanageable. We are experiencing this first-hand with healthcare supplies.

A protocolized emergency strategy involves intermediate warehouses with medical equipment prepared for quick logistic delivery in case of a humanitarian disaster.

Spain had never previously prepared for this, like many other countries, and currently a reactive rather then proactive strategy is being implemented, which makes the virus go ahead of us. 

This case is applicable to the business field soon. Logistics is the key to being prepared for future crisis scenarios.

Climate change is increasingly affecting our lives. What can we do from an economic perspective to make cities more sustainable?

There are two factors that affect sustainability. The first is the development of new technologies, and the second is the effective implementation of those technologies linked to the changes in citizens’ lifestyles.

In large cities, the major sources of pollution come from fuel burning (mainly vehicles and old oil-fired boilers). The implementation of quality public transport for particularly vulnerable groups, as well as the increase in energy efficiency, become fundamental actions for sustainability.

However, citizens need to be aware that the old mobility paradigms will change. In this case, if there is one positive thing about the Covid19 crisis is that it will redesign the way we move around.

Teleworking, whenever possible, avoids unnecessary travel and therefore CO2 emissions. The social distancing to which we will be subjected in the coming months will limit the demand for commuting and perhaps we will consider, whenever possible, the option of walking more.

On the other hand, economies of proximity (purchase of food or supplies from nearby suppliers or even the growth of urban gardens) will increase mainly because of the uncertainty created. Cities will tend towards sustainability out of necessity.

In a sector such as construction, increasingly aware of the implementation of sustainable criteria, what systems or processes should be applied in order to become more eco-efficient?

There are urban concepts such as the Passiv Haus that will necessarily have to be developed and increasingly applied. Materials engineering will play a leading role in designing lighter and more resistant materials at a lower cost.  

In this context, circular economy will be progressively incorporated into the strategic plans of companies. Of course, energy efficiency aimed at self-sufficiency will develop to the extent that people will not want to depend on low-resilience production systems.  

All these concepts are the basis of Industry 4.0 that we will see implemented quickly after this crisis.

From the perspective of the Production and Operations Management, a subject you are an expert of, what can a company such as Tecnopol improve, when distributing its products in the five continents?

Chemical-based companies will now become companies of strategic priority. They will be the pillar on which the economies will be based to confront this and future crises that may arise.

In order to be resilient, companies will obviously have to implement a continuous and intense policy in R&D together with a logistic capacity of fast response with a very close collaboration with suppliers in systems based on Lean Management.

R&D management will be based on the generation of large “innovation libraries” together with a closer collaboration with other companies and research entities (universities, research centers, ...) in order to promote the implementation of different innovations for different applications, and all of this, within a short period of time. One thing we are learning in this crisis is the value of time, especially in the chemistry and biotechnology areas.

How will markets respond to the health emergency created by Covid19 and the climate emergency decreed by multiple institutions?

The lack of contingency plans has created numerous speculative markets, especially in the health field, where supply and demand pricing are ahead of human lives.

If a virus with a mortality rate under the 3% (according to the different age ranges) has caused chaos even in the financial markets, what would have happened with higher mortality and infection rates?

Clearly, we will recover from this crisis with a cost that is difficult to calculate at this time. There will be economic sectors that will emerge strengthened, such as health, biotechnology, chemicals and other sectors that rely their current activity on the digital economy.

But there will be others that will even have to reinvent themselves such as the tourism sector.

I foresee in this sector greater difficulties for big tourist and hotel companies, but a boost for rural tourism, as a result of the social distancing that will be imposed on us in this and the following phases of this crisis. Other sectors such as the agri-food sector may also be reinforced. The adaptation capacity of the different companies and markets will set the guidelines to follow.

When and how do you expect the construction market to recover?

It’s very difficult to make predictions at this point. Logically, economic crises have a very negative impact on the construction market. The effort we will have to make is going to be considerable before returning to the economic situations we had before Covid19. 
 
 

¿In which projects or ideas are you working on currently? 

My research team efforts are currently focused, on the one hand, on the REMESH EU H2020 project about Supply Chain Resilience in Emergency Situations in which we work together with universities from Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, Thailand, Vietnam and especially Wuhan University, with whom we are in constant contact.

The other line of research is focused on the Erasmus+ project from the UE called AGROS in which we work on innovation and knowledge management for the development of sustainable agriculture together with our partners from Greece, Cyprus, Serbia, Croatia and Lithuania.

bio Daniel Arias

Daniel Arias Aranda

Professor of Business Organisation at the Faculty of Economics and Business Studies at the University of Granada


He has published more than one hundred scientific publications on Operations and Business Management. 

He is a member of the Board Council of the Innovation and Development Agency (IDEA) of the Andalusian Regional Government and a researcher for the European Union’s project H2020 on “Supply Chain Resilience in Emergency Situations” with the University of Wuhan. 

He also contributes to Santiago Camacho’s “Strange Days” (Días Extraños) podcast with the “Strange Economy” section.