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Why the time for supply chain resiliency is now

How to prepare your supply chain for unexpected disruption in an increasingly complex logistics world.


Regardless of circumstance, a resilient supply chain is crucial to grow and thrive in today’s fast-paced, globalized and interconnected world. Building a resilient supply chain helps you prepare for the unexpected, manage consumer demands, comply with regulations and drive increased efficiency. All while increasing your competitiveness.


Natural disasters occur, railways and highways close down, global pandemics linger, wars and geopolitical situations break out – all of which adversely impact the supply chain. Even so, many supply chains are ill-equipped to manage, mitigate and respond to disruptions, which will always be part of the mainstream.


According to the World Economic Forum, supply disruptions that surged in early 2020 are starting to once again increase over the course of 2021, particularly in the United States and the Eurozone.


There are several steps companies like yours can take to help you ride out a supply chain shock. These include understanding your vulnerabilities to minimize risk, adopting the willingness to innovate during trying times and proactively looking for ways to minimize interruptions in your ecosystem, the latter of which can be done, in part, through technology.


Let’s take a closer look.


Minimize risk to maximize your effectiveness


If your networks lack resiliency, so, too, will your supply chain. Let’s say, for instance, you rely on one source for a part critical to producing a top-selling item. That supplier goes out of business or is located in an area suffering through a natural disaster that closes it down, even temporarily.


This vulnerability could be reduced or eliminated by diversifying your supplier network, particularly if you depend heavily on a medium- or high-risk source like a single factory or region.


Similarly, if you depend on one transportation company or even mode of transportation, like trucking, risk goes up if a trucker strike or labor shortage occurs. In the United States alone, a truck driver shortage is expected to increase from 70,000 in 2018 to 175,000 in 2026, which is reason enough to look toward alternative means of transportation for your goods. And we all know the risks involved in shipping these days with cargo ships stuck in ports worldwide.


Innovate to reinvent yourself when needed


Suppliers and transportation are just part of the complex supply chain web. The pandemic revealed innovation and flexibility are absolutely crucial for survival. We marvel at and applaud companies – perhaps yours – that reinvented themselves during the pandemic.


Car manufacturers converted assembly lines to build ventilators. Breweries continued their craft while making hand sanitizers as demand skyrocketed. Companies that shipped goods to restaurants and other business-to-business (B2B) organizations found ways to ship products directly to consumers as eCommerce demand for items went up while quantities of orders went down.


Supply chains – far from perfect – were quick to recover and continue to do so. And technology enabled such resiliency.


Capitalize on warehouse technology


For instance, the news is awash with organizations – retailers in particular – that offer higher starting salaries, bonuses and so on. But if you aren’t Amazon or McDonald’s, you might not be able to afford such luxuries. Innovative warehouse technology, including automation, can help. Sure, the upfront costs can be large – but so, too, is the ROI.


For example:

  • A warehouse management system (WMS) enables you to better manage inventory and operations, doing more with less resources.
  • A transportation management system (TMS) helps you move goods more efficiently, optimizing the daily operations of fleets, from first mile to last mile.
  • Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) take on many of the manual movement activities in warehouses and distribution centers (DCs), delivering everything from intricate picking fulfillment to moving pallets and large payloads.


These warehouse solutions and more enable companies to offset labor challenges, increase operational efficiency and reduce costs – saving money in the long run. Further, many of you are investing in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and advanced analytics to identify potential disruptions early, allowing you to be more proactive than reactive.


For example, you can use ML to see a hurricane is brewing in the Caribbean, where you have a supplier, and choose a supplier in another region that won’t be affected by adverse weather.


Strengthen your warehouse with planning and outside help


Bottom line? Supply chains aren’t bulletproof. But companies like yours can have well-thought-out plans to mitigate risks, whether they come from natural disasters, pandemics, political unrest or whatever challenge leads to disruptions.


Understand your vulnerabilities and plan for those risks. Be flexible enough to transform in the face of adversity. Consider warehouse technology to help offset labor challenges and increase operational efficiency. And lean into AI, ML and advanced analytics, which help you be proactive rather than reactive.


Last but not least, look to a supply chain technology provider well-versed in all of the above. Learn more here.

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