While savvy logistics professionals may be able to navigate a business through unforeseen disruptions caused by pandemics and wars, the need for having safeguards in place to protect a business’s supply chain has never been greater. Yet, before knowing the significance of having a resilient supply chain, it's important to understand what supply chain resilience actually is.
Supply chain resilience refers to the capacity of a business to resist and recover from disruptions in the supply chain efficiently and effectively. It can mean the difference between capturing a large market share during an unpredictable breakdown in the supply chain and losing existing customers due to a failure to meet consumer demand. The recent COVID-19 pandemic may have underlined the significance of supply chain resilience for many businesses, but taking an objective look at its requirement can help you understand how to protect your business.
An Arising Need for Supply Chain Resilience
Businesses used to focus on minimizing the supply chain cost. However, several supply chain disruptions have made it necessary for them to incorporate a supply chain resilience model. Some of the key reasons to implement supply chain resilience include:
- Geopolitical events: Be it the US-China trade war, Brexit, or the recent Russian-Ukrainian war, there have been many instances of geopolitical events disrupting supply chains in the recent past. Such conflicts are often unpredictable, making it important for businesses to implement supply chain resilience strategies now more than ever.
- Cyberattacks: In our modern era, nearly everything is digitized, and it shouldn’t be surprising that hackers have made exploiting supply chain vulnerabilities a priority. Vendors tend to have access to sensitive business data. A proactive investment in improving cybersecurity is key to enforcing supply chain resilience.
- Natural disasters: These have been considered one of the top supply chain vulnerabilities for decades. However, the rapidly changing weather patterns have increased the risk of supply chain disruptions due to natural disasters.
- Global health events: A public health crisis can uproot supply chains entirely, as is evident by the COVID-19 pandemic. Supply chains were also uprooted back in 2014 with the outbreak of Ebola, and in 2009 with the outbreak of the H1N1 flu.
A good understanding of these disruptions helps to reap the benefits of supply chain resilience. The investment in building a resilient supply chain provides an extra edge to businesses in the competitive environment and increases operational efficiency.
Understanding the Strategies for Supply Chain Resilience
Learning about supply chain resilience and its importance does not offer direct insight into practical strategies that businesses can use. Businesses face difficulty in incorporating a resilience model as it impacts operational efficiency and increases operating costs due to the requirement of additional resources. Some effective strategies that help businesses implement a resilient supply chain without compromising other business operations include:
- Manufacturing diversification: Diversifying production facilities in multiple locations assures continuity in the production process. Furthermore, the diversification entails having numerous suppliers for raw materials and encourages a more stable production capacity.
- Storing buffer stock: Creating inventory buffers is the simplest way to build a resilient supply chain. In addition, adopting production facilities that can be expanded in uncertain times allows for meeting stock requirement in the event of a supply chain breakdown.
- Nearshoring and multi-sourcing: Nearshoring involves localizing the supply chain to a closer geographical position. It provides better control over supply and moves ready-to-purchase goods closer to consumers. On the other hand, multi-sourcing, or having multiple suppliers across the globe, helps secure raw materials from numerous sources. A strong network of suppliers ensures continuous procurement of supplies.
- Standardization of processes: Supply chain resilience can be achieved by standardizing the manufacturing process. Using exchangeable machinery, labor force, and corridors across various manufacturing installations helps optimize processes to a large degree.
How Modern Technology is Changing Supply Chain Resilience
Adopting the latest technologies for implementing supply chain resilience helps businesses reap the benefits in many ways. Implementing new technologies will allow the co-existence of digital enablers and humans across different supply chains, which will help reduce complexity and uncertainty.
Artificial intelligence (AI) aids in analyzing data from many disparate sources. AI-powered supply chain solutions provide deep procedural and operational insights. Machine knowledge will make it possible to discover patterns in force chain data and identify influential factors. Intelligently automated for speed, effectiveness, and precision, robots and drones can adapt their processes on-demand to meet swiftly changing conditions.
These solutions for better supply chain management can rely on predictive analysis and big data. With modern databases, force chain technologies can be optimized to run at their most optimal. Thus, technology is helping achieve efficient operations, improved productivity, and risk reduction in the supply chain globally.