How can logistics handle disruption through supply chain resilience?
Global trade disruption will continue to happen beyond the pandemic. Managing cross-border, international supply chains with multiple, disconnected systems and manual processes indeed have many pitfalls. One misfiled declaration, missing document, or unread urgent email can block a shipment. No one wants to deal with delays, missed sales, or unhappy customers, and certainly not fines.
The Evergreen shipping incident in the Suez Canal proved that logistics remains vulnerable. Despite many businesses making changes in response to lockdowns, trade disputes and others, remain a concern. Vulnerabilities when exposed, are high risk – uncertain delays can create doubt in even the most loyal customer. Managing the expectations of stakeholders and preserving the bottom line, is crucial to handle uncertainty and sustain supply chain stability. But good solutions can transform risks into opportunities.
As supply chains disruptions are unpredictable preparing for any kind eventuality is a major challenge. When planning and ordering supplies, now needs to encompass a wider scope of considerations. Disruptive incidents, do not change customer demands. They still expect free, fast and on-time delivery. And delays caused in their deliveries, won’t be accepted by the customer, as the ‘want-it-now’ mentality intensified by social media has created more pressure to deliver for brands. In-fact delayed shipment may even change the consumer mind, who may cancel their order mid-transit and purchase from a competitor.
Then is stockpiling regional inventories the answer to serving consumer demand and mitigating delays? In Fashion, the value of having reserve stock on hand, can be negated quickly. The changing trends dictate consumer preference. Stocked items may sit idle because demand preferences have changed overnight.
Like Fashion, Vaccines through the pandemic have come into unpredictable demand that impacts supply chains. Getting vaccines to the right people at the right time, is imperative. Supply chains need to have the right infrastructure to safely store, transport and track shipments. Maintaining infrastructure in robust cold chain flows is vital throughout the distribution process, within the stringent temperature requirements. .
Maintaining continuity in supply chains is vital to managing disruption in whatever form it takes.
The cases of fashion and vaccine are recent examples of challenges that supply chains face.
So, how can logistics handle disruptive events like these?
Resilience has become a key word in the vocabulary of many organisations. As they are tested to provide continuity in their businesses flows through the challenging times of 2020. Trade and tariff wars, geopolitical changes and the results of a global pandemic have increased the risks. The lack of transportation capacity, increasing rates, port congestion or container shortages, continue to impact global trade operations and its stakeholders with different intensity. But embracing technologies such as AI and ML, logistics providers can steadily “brace for impact” and predict when changes are likely to occur.
The priorities to develop supply chain resiliency lie in improving IT capabilities (61 per cent), human resource policies (58 per cent) and risk management (58 per cent). Investing in the right technology will streamline existing processes through digitisation and create new opportunities towards an ‘asset-less’ supply chain.
Three main innovations that will enable resiliency will be in the areas of customer experience (CX), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). By prioritising a focus on technology, businesses can equip their supply chains with the ability to navigate intense disruptive events with supply chain resiliency.
AI and ML are key enablers to deliver visibility and resiliency. They support supply chains to transition to an ‘asset less’ state. Matching accurate supply to demand of goods in given timeframes, can achieve accurate and optimised inventories, that minimises overproduction and able to pre-empt potential errors.
Supply chain resiliency is the key to unlocking these disruptive challenges. This is a perspective shared by the industry, with 75 per cent of supply chain professionals expecting to make moderate-to-extreme changes to improve resiliency in this coming year according to BluJay’s report on the Top 5 Trends Shaping Survival and Success.