How to Pandemic Proof Your Supply Chain

As with any system that is composed of numerous intertwined links, your supply chain is only as strong as its weakest component.

Never has that fact been more apparent than during 2020 when COVID-19 swept the globe and forever changed the way that companies of all sizes did business.

Since this situation shows no signs of disappearing, organizations must take the time now to safeguard their systems against not only the current conditions but in preparation for the future.

Make Communications A Top Priority

During times like this, things are changing constantly. In order to remain nimble and ready to act quickly to address crises, you should have regular interactions with all members of your supply chain team, including production, procurement, sales and logistics managers.

During these sessions, it is wise to arrive at an emergency action plan that can be activated in a crisis to keep employees safe, shield company assets and minimize business interruption.

Analyze Supply Chain Risk

When your supply chain contains such a large number of primary, secondary and tertiary actors, it is all too easy to become complacent. In the face of uncertainty, you cannot afford to simply wait for supplies to come and hope for the best.

Invest time and money into making a complete map of your entire complex supply chain, including participants, products and procedures.

After analyzing the information you gather, you will be in a better position to find vulnerabilities, assess and prioritize risk, plan for worst-case scenarios, correct what you can and decide how you are going to deal with what remains.

Incorporate Advanced Technologies

Cutting-edge innovations such as artificial intelligence and machine learning can optimize the resilience and efficiency of your supply chain.

Using insights from the masses of data at their disposal, these systems can enhance your supply chain’s security, anticipate challenges, suggest solutions, track all items in an order, monitor stock quantities and minimize the occurrence of human error.

Even in the calmest times, these benefits can bring about greater efficiency and profits.

Stockpile Materials And Diversify

During the height of the pandemic, it became obvious that the way organizations were addressing product production contained a fatal flaw.

The just-in-time approach may have reduced spending when companies only ordered the inventory they needed, but their operations quickly came crashing down when links along their supply chains broke and they could not obtain the goods they needed.

This phenomenon occurred with everything from electronics components to air purifying respirators. Moving forward, companies need to find ways to stockpile raw materials.

And, if possible, to diversify their supplier pool to encompass wider geographical regions and bring contingency providers onboard.

Businesses must constantly work to balance their budgetary constraints with the equally important need to make their supply chains as robust and resilient as possible.

Crises can stem from terrorist attacks, cybercrime, natural disasters, trade wars, and tariffs. The challenge before all organizations is to harden their supply chains and security strategies while making communications and cutting-edge technology adoption high priorities.

While even these steps cannot be 100 percent effective, they will maximize a business’s chances of remaining resilient and available even in the worst of times.

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