Navigation through supply chain risks COVID-19
It is well established fact now that COVID-19 is the black swan event that has finally forced many companies, and entire industries, to rethink and transform their global supply chain models.
As a typical black swan event, COVID-19 took the world by complete surprise. The Coronavirus was first seen in Wuhan in December 31, 2019. Despite significant efforts to contain the spread of the virus, including travel bans worldwide, forced lockdowns around the world, COVID-19 spread globally. Every country of the world reported positive cases by Aug 2020 and death troll raised to 1.13 million by mid Oct 20. With each passing day and significant growing number of positive cases has put communities, ecosystems, and supply chains at risk. Given the characteristics of this virus, and the global movement of people, containment was exceptionally difficult. Still almost every country in the world is fighting Covid-19.
The pandemic has disrupted nearly every part of supply chains, from supply upstream to inbound and outbound logistics to demand planning and forecasting. Now businesses are beginning to think about strategies to build resilience in the medium term and adjust to a “new normal” beyond the pandemic. While companies are quickly reformulating their supply changes as conditions change almost daily in terms of transporting goods, they are also looking for advice on how to improve their supply chains going forward.
Some companies have developed and implemented supply chain risk management and business continuity strategies. They have also diversified their supply chains from a geographic perspective to reduce the supply-side risks from any one country or region. They have multi-sourced key commodities or strategic components to reduce their reliance on any one supplier, and they had considered inventory strategy to buffer against supply chain disruption.
Few companies have built strong relationships with key suppliers and have put systems in place to provide visibility across the extended supply network to better understand their risks and drive specific actions based on their priorities. They developed agility within their production and distribution networks to quickly reconfigure and maintain supply to global demand, and they invested in supply chain planning and control tower solutions to better sense and respond, and even predict, supply chain issues.
And some companies are overly reliant on a single geography or a single supplier for key products. They don’t have enough visibility across the extended supply network to see their risks. They don’t have the systems to understand their inventory status, to project stock-outs of direct materials and optimize production, or to project stock-outs of finished goods to optimize customer allocation, and they don’t have flexible logistics networks to ensure the flow of goods in a profitable manner.
One tough lesson that all companies have learned from this pandemic is that a global supply can have multiple “potential points of failure and less margin of error for absorbing delays and disruptions,” however; the good news is that technology can offer ways to mitigate that risk by improving visibility across the complicated global supply chain.
These technologies are creating digital supply networks where functional silos are broken down and thus able to an organization to see end to end. Currently, these networks are designed with disruption in mind and thus are able to reconfigure and therefore mitigate the impact of disruptions.
Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, 5G, AI, 3D printing, and robotics as technologies that continue to improve supply chain efficiency.
The digital supply network must not only be aligned with business strategy after it is set but be integral to its formulation. And, risk management will be an integral element of that design, as risk management and business continuity is also an integral element of overall business strategy. From a risk management perspective, the key will be to build a resilient supply chain that not only seeks to reduce risks but also is prepared to quickly adjust and recover from any unanticipated supply chain disruptions that occur.