What You Can Learn From a Supply Chain Disruption

Today’s global supply chains are long, complex and meandering. They encompass a rabbit warren of raw materials miners and producers, middlemen, regulators and national governments. If there is a kink in even one small facet, the delivery process of everything from a digital thermometer to a semiconductor can come to a crashing halt. As the recent pandemic has showcased, disruptions are unpredictable and can be devastating. However, the silver lining is that they have the potential to bring about insights that can help companies to become more educated and resilient.




Gone are the days when organizations could put all their eggs in one basket by only looking to a single supplier in a particular region of the world. When the pandemic hit, numerous companies realized too late that their failure to follow and map all endpoints of their supply network meant that they were unable to pivot in an emergency. Of course, mapping is not a miracle cure. The nature of electronics manufacture is, at least for now, that the origins of the raw materials and parts that go into their construction are concentrated among just a few vendors in Asia. However, chain mapping is an important step that all multinational companies should take to diversify as much as possible, thereby striking a balance between the reduced transaction costs of single suppliers and the flexibility and redundancy of working with multiple vendors.




Understanding that supply chain interruptions are unavoidable is not new. Companies have long responded to this knowledge by using historical data about past similar events to predict demand and to order supplies accordingly. However, events such as the pandemic come out of the blue and often have no precedential data. In order to react to them, manufacturers must come up with ways to balance efficiency in inventory management with nimbleness in responding to the unforeseen.




Running a large manufacturing enterprise leaves little time for other endeavors, and many specialists have therefore put professional knowledge acquisition on the back burner in favor of quenching immediate fires. However, this complacency is counterproductive. Making a commitment to remain abreast of developments in warehouse optimization, inventory management, artificial intelligence and machine language innovations for suppliers and many other crucial areas of study can help companies to remain competitive and able to pivot even during interruptions.


Trade wars, terrorist attacks, pandemics and price fluctuations are inevitable at some point during a company’s lifetime. The interruptions they often cause can have devastating consequences, but they also will lead to an advance in knowledge and proactive techniques. By adapting practices as a result of the difficulties of the past, a company’s supply chain future is sure to be more transparent, streamlined and efficient.


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