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Benchmarking agility and resilience in today’s supply chains

In our survey, we assessed among other factors how prepared businesses are for disruptions and how able they are to respond to them.

What is agility and resilience in supply chain?


Restoring lost resiliency in the supply chain is crucial when disruptions hit. Businesses need to be both agile and resilient to successfully mitigate the risk of disruption. An agile supply chain should be able to prepare for, respond to, and recover from unexpected disruptions as demand or supply fluctuates while not sacrificing cost or service quality. During these times, a resilient supply chain would adapt to structural changes through modifying supply chain strategies, processes and technologies.



Benchmarking today’s supply chain


In 2022, Körber launched a research project aiming to understand the underlying factors that drive supply chain complexity. The research project resulted in the identification of six operational areas:


  1. Agility and Resilience
  2. Digitization and Process Automation
  3. End Customer Experience
  4. Facility Optimization
  5. Labor Engagement, Safety and Efficiency
  6. Sustainability


In response to these rising complexities, Körber then commissioned its first ever Supply Chain Benchmarking survey. The research was designed to assess current supply chain best practices and establish benchmarks. The results, based on a representative survey among more than 200 companies, shed unparalleled insight into the industry and best practices to improve supply chain operation and performance. Participants were scored and categorized into four maturity levels: leader, advanced, developing and initiating.


Key strategies for agility and resilience


COVID-19 tested supply chains like never before – with labor shortages, safety precautions, production backups and volatility in demand. One after the other, new disruptions piled on top of those previous and created the perfect storm. Our research found 50 percent of supply chain professionals said they were prepared to deal with unexpected demand fluctuations by keeping extra stock on hand or hiring temporary labor. However, this is not real agility – it is contingency planning. Now more than ever, supply chain networks need to be able to anticipate disruptive circumstances rather than just respond to them. ​ ​


An agile supply chain should be able to prepare for, respond to, and recover from unexpected disruptions as demand or supply fluctuates while not sacrificing cost or quality. During these times, a resilient supply chain would adapt to structural changes through modifying supply chain strategies, processes and technologies.


But what distinguishes leaders from the rest?


The majority of businesses we surveyed are actively engaging in enhancing the agility and resilience of their supply chain. The benchmarking report found that 40 percent of respondents are considered a leader in agility and resilience, 42 percent are considered advanced, 17 percent of respondents are developing towards becoming more agile and resilient, and 1 percent are initiating the conversation.




We found that 80 percent of leaders said they have good visibility across their entire supply chain, while only 7 percent of advanced supply chain operators could say the same. While leaders see what is coming ahead time and can prepare, their peers can only recognize disruptions as they happen in order to respond.


Another striking difference found between leaders and the other three maturity levels is their willingness to mitigate disruptions through external support. 66 percent of leaders feel that external partners (like vendors, carriers or customers) will help them mitigate supply chain disruptions. By contrast, only 16 percent of advanced supply chain organizations think this will be the case.


​In the search to determine what sets agility and resilience leaders apart from the rest, we found the implementation of a few key strategies to be the differentiating factor:


Closing the visibility gap


When it comes to supply chain visibility, pinpointing where you may have gaps is critical to understanding the holistic story of your business. While you may have full insight into fulfillment operations, gaining visibility further upstream (i.e., manufacturing, dropshipping, order routing, etc.) provides an extra dial to turn when adapting to market changes—whether supply issues, pre-planned adjustments or shifts in demand and resources.


These integrated Order Management Systems (OMS) and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) offer increased visibility, that lead to increased agility. A modern OMS provides pre-purchase visibility into available inventory, and then the ability to dynamically allocate it across the network. Additionally, an OMS aggregates orders, across all channels for a central source of truth for commerce, operations, and customer service teams. Then as the order is processed in the warehouse, the WMS can communicate back the order status.


Using extensible APIs to integrate the WMS and OMS with external partners’ supply chain systems allows for end-to-end visibility from manufacturing to delivery. It is crucial to have flexible solutions in place that can communicate easily with all of the partners and solution providers in your network.


Warehouse planning as a first step


Keeping in mind most supply chains were designed to be cost efficient, it’s important to start rethinking and updating the warehouse in the first step towards resilience. A team must consider whether the warehouse layout is optimized to make the best use of physical space, if it has robust inventory control systems, and how all these factors can fit together.


The most important aspect to keep in mind is that technology must not dictate the facility or the people within it. Instead, technology is there to optimize the performance of the warehouse and its team members. Warehouse simulation software can help businesses make more informed layout decisions for the future.


Voice-directed work for warehouse agility


Voice technology can help warehouses gain a large level of flexibility, agility and cost-effectiveness. Voice-directed work (VDW) involves a hands-free headset, delivering directions to staff during picking. VDW increases accuracy by 25 percent, in turn improving customer satisfaction and reducing returns.


VDW makes logistics centers more agile by decreasing the training time for new and temporary staff. During seasonal peaks in demand, temporary staff can be trained and good to go in less than an hour. This is made possible by the voice system delivering the training while “on-the-job.”


Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs)


AMRs are increasingly being implemented in warehouses and distribution centers (DC) to increase efficiency and agility. As one of the most innovative breakthroughs in automation, AMRs can move independently using sensors, cameras, and embedded safety mechanisms. AMRs can speed up order processing and improve operational and financial agility. The scalable and versatile use paired with how easy users can learn to operate AMRs make this solution optimal for staying vigilant in order to anticipate and adapt to future disruptions.


Achieve a more agile and resilient supply chain with software solutions


In other words, the leaders in agility and resilience are prepared. They both look down the line to anticipate what is coming and look up the line to have in place the necessary relationships they may need in the future. Having a tier 1 warehouse management system (WMS) and a feature rich order management system (OMS) are critical to enable visibility of inventory, order status, and in-transit product movement across the network.


Leveraging new technologies like simulation, voice-directed work and AMRs has given leaders the ability to anticipate and adapt as supply chain issues arise.


Want to learn more on what current supply chain Agility and Resilience leaders are doing? Visit our benchmarking practice or download the full Benchmarking report for more details on the survey results.


For further insight on Agility and Resilience based on the Supply Chain Benchmarking survey, download the infographic and Agility and Resilience supply chain performance guide.

Related solutions

Voice Directed Warehouse Operations

Systems for voice-directed warehouse operations.

Autonomous Mobile Robots

The use of autonomous robots for material handling in logistics.

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