Managing global supply chains in the Covid-19 crisis: Part 1
While this crisis is affecting us all very personally this time, in the world of supply chains this is not an isolated grand challenge, and we can take heart that similar tragic events have prompted improvements that will serve us well.
30 March 2020
By Adrian Williamson, Innovation Funding Consultant at ABGI-UK
Part 1 - Focus on Resilience
We are all feeling the disruption and disconnection that the Covid-19 pandemic is bringing, and nowhere more acutely than in our shops, manufacturing, services and across those hard-working supply chains. When will the toilet rolls arrive, and will I ever eat pasta again?
The good news is that technologies such as Enterprise Resource Planning, automated delivery scheduling, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence are already working hard behind the scenes to help us recover.
While this crisis is affecting us all very personally this time, in the world of supply chains this is not an isolated grand challenge, and we can take heart that similar tragic events such as the Taiwanese earthquake of 1999, SARS in 2003 and the Japanese earthquake of 2011 have prompted improvements that will serve us well. These led directly to a focus on resilience in the supply chain, replacing the previous strategy of simply moving to, and following, low wage cost regions, with production now spread across diverse areas. However, this diversification and search for resilience creates challenges. It introduces complexity, requires extended flexibility, and needs real technology advances to enable it. Although more resilient, lead times are different, volumes are different and software systems’ ability to guess the right thing to do is in no way straightforward. As Artificial Intelligence helps with such guesses, so we can improve responses in times of disruption. If we add sensors within the field of Internet of Things to refine such control, this creates opportunity but makes it harder again by an order of magnitude.
The result is an explosion in innovation across the supply chain at all levels, and of course an explosion in research and development applicable to a range of supporting services from R&D Tax Relief, to funding advances to Patent Box to Capital Asset management.
In the second part in our mini-series on Managing global supply chains in the Covid-19 crisis, we’ll take a look at how Enterprise Resource Planning is helping to optimise stocking and deliveries in our local supermarkets…