Supply-chain flexibility and responsiveness have never been more important as they are at present. Even before COVID-19, supply-chain managers considered how to cope with supply-chain disruptions from natural disasters like the 2011 Japanese tsunami to political developments such as the U.S.- China trade war by building greater resiliency into their operations.
Companies are looking for ways to not only survive but to gain a competitive advantage in a prolonged environment of uncertainty and disruption. The capacity to cope with black-swan events translates into that competitive advantage.
How can businesses secure the upper hand over unanticipated challenges to managing a global supply chain? The answer lies in identifying discrete challenges and responding creatively, strategically, and dynamically as situations continue to evolve.
1) Understand the risk
2) Be open from the outset
3) Take the long-term view
4) Do the analysis
5) Evolve your approach through lessons learned
Flexibility and speed afforded by taking a regional approach to manufacturing, distribution, and sourcing is one way to build more resiliency into the supply chain. Another emerging practice is asset sharing – whether it’s sharing trucks or warehouses – as an important strategy for managing business peaks and variability.
A resilient supply chain also takes full advantage of digital technologies that promote visibility and business intelligence. For retail companies, implementing tools that promote visibility and flexibility can provide insights into proper inventory levels, the positioning of SKUs, and the best mix of distribution operations. There is a level of finesse required, however, to introducing automation. Companies must continue to value their people as their most important assets. Automation is unquestioningly an important trend, but it should be introduced in such a way that makes peoples’ jobs easier and more rewarding even more fun.
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