The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted nearly all regions of the distribution chain and underscored why endurance is indeed crucial.
“Adversity such as COVID-19 shows cracks in your distribution chain which were there long before the virus hit,” explained Alan Amling, a lecturer and researcher using the International Supply Chain Institute (GSCI) at the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee.
Here are seven methods supply chain leaders may consider to construct supply chain durability and be more nimble overall.
1. Build analytics capabilities
Analytics might help leaders identify dangers and need fluctuations and react to them appropriately. To put it differently, it may be a significant tool in an organization’s supply chain endurance arsenal — some leaders knew but didn’t execute pre-pandemic.
Case in point: Even though 76 percent of technologies decision-makers and influencers considered that analytics was crucial for their distribution chains, much fewer — 56 percent — had spent up to $5 million in creating their analytics toolkits, as reported by a 2019 Deloitte poll.
Getting the most from analytics requires the right infrastructure — and the right people.
“People with leading-edge digital and analytics skills are in short supply and generally can be very costly to hire,” said Sam Pearson, principal at Deloitte Consulting.
To cure this, a lot of businesses take action to construct a more technically and analytically informed supply chain workforce, Pearson stated. Part of this entails exposing the staff to a vast array of adventures, which may include the opportunity to work in various regions of the supply chain, across different geographies or using distinct technology platforms. And supply chain workers may also acquire insight by spending some time with clients, he explained.
Analytics demands attention will be to function optimally, and that is important to comprehend.
“AI has to be tracked, given opinions and, occasionally, be diverted, exactly like a human worker,” Pearson explained.
Also read: 9 Best Tools Help in Supply Chain Management
2. Consider contactless delivery options
In an attempt to improve supply chain resilience, many leaders are receptive to technologies and processes they could have been reluctant to think about pre-COVID-19. Contactless options fall in that category.
“Compounding [the distribution chain disturbance ], a reasonable amount of recipients don’t wish to interact with all the shipping person, and they’re worried about contracting the virus from bundles,” explained Alex Sharpe, chief in Sharpe Management Consulting.
These worries are compelling enterprises to quicken expedited delivery initiatives as a portion of the COVID-19 pivots, Sharpe said.
Ahead of COVID-19, firms were reluctant to embrace contactless delivery due to pushback from clients and supervisors, but pushback has vanished.
“History shows us disruptions similar to this nurture adoption [of new technology and procedures ],” Sharpe said.
Amazon has utilized drones and app-enabled fall boxes for several years. Other organizations are researching this contactless shipping technologies in a bid to keep their employees safe. Organizations are also experimenting with virus-resistant packaging.
3. Rethink supplier strategy
New methods of sourcing are crucial to construction post-pandemic supply chain resistance.
Pre-pandemic, the pressure to decrease prices induced many suppliers to rely heavily on just-in-time distribution chains and maintain fewer reservations, Sharpe said.
In the brief run, companies will probably revolve around producing safety stocks of important supplies as the world warms up to the fragility of international supply chains,” he explained. This entails producing strategic reserves and encouraging neighborhood pooling to pivot towards preserving security stocks of important supplies. In the long term, many businesses must pursue a multi-supplier plan, particularly for key products.
The local element of the lesson is critical.
Industry watchers have long focused on off-the-shelf things, because of their intricate supply chains. However, as COVID-19 disrupted the source of low-margin things like hand sanitizer, many leaders have recognized these supply chains are crucial also.
Since the lack of smaller things becomes more widespread, the majority of their production will return to the U.S.,” Sharpe said.
4. Focus on rapid response
Over the period of a few weeks, businesses have lost crucial providers and seasoned enormous shifts in product demand. They have had to alter their way of transporting goods and find new approaches to manage and safeguard their workforce. While few might have predicted COVID-19’s enormous impact, it is clear today that firms will need to get a backup program for the situation.
Organizations will establish quick response supply chains which enhance transparency, expect fresh disruptions and enable quicker decision-making in the aftermath of COVID-19, stated Mark George, practice leader for distribution chain, operations, and sustainability in Accenture Strategy.
In the brief term, this may allow supply chains to assist society to handle the negative facet of a crisis, George stated.
For many companies, this can be a chance to repurpose their production capabilities to create items such as ventilators, masks, sanitizers,s and other products that are critical. By way of instance, liquor distilleries across the U.S. have repurposed their equipment to produce hand sanitizer.
Firms that have done well throughout the crisis will probably be in a much better position to alter their supply chain, George stated. This may increase both their distribution chain durability and responsiveness following the emergency has passed.
5. Use digital twins
Many producers utilize digital twins to map out an item’s lifecycle. Organizations are currently utilizing digital twins to check different”what-if” situations as part of the efforts at fostering supply chain resilience post-COVID-19.
“These digital twins may identify activities to alleviate or solve disturbance, find unidentified dependencies or limitations and help predict the price, time and effort demanded more correctly,” George stated.
Businesses can fortify an electronic twin with analytics-based danger frameworks. All these frameworks assess the time it takes to get a disrupted distribution chain node — like a provider center, a distribution center, or a transport hub — to be restored to full performance. These electronic twins may also represent an organization’s whole distribution network at any given degree of detail and discover risks that were previously concealed.
6. Invest in 3D printing
Additive production — or 3D printing — has played a significant part in tackling COVID-19’s effects.
“The flexibility provided by 3D printing is coming into focus in this outbreak,” Amling explained. “Exactly the exact same 3D printer may be generating personal protective gear a single minute and patient searching swabs another”
Take the example of Chicago-based manufacturer Quick Radius. Before this COVID-19 pandemic, Quick Radius made parts for bicycles, robots, and prosthetics. Now, the business is working to generate face guards, ventilator components, and reusable face masks.
7. Automate repetitive tasks
Robotic process automation (RPA) can automate jobs and enable increased responsiveness, which then promotes supply chain resilience.
Ascension Healthcare, an Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical firm, has undergone an increase in cancellations from providers lately, according to a company press release. Its leaders reacted by working with Agility Automation, an IT consultancy, to create RPA capacities that allowed Ascension to handle fresh requirements.
RPA applications can operate through a high volume of cancellations and boost reaction time, which frees up human employees to bargain with other crucial tasks.