The supply chain is the backbone of industry. When there are problems maintaining the supply of necessary resources and materials, the whole economy suffers. The last two years have created chaos in every supply chain and led to periodic — and dramatic — ups and downs with which suppliers and their commercial customers have been forced to contend. It’s critical to have plans, options, and resources for handling supply chain disruptions.
Determining the source of supply chain issues is the first step to figuring out how to protect your market share. Supply chain disruptions are caused by any number of things. In recent years, we’ve seen several, if not all, of the following:
- Health crises
- Political turmoil
- Natural disasters
- Human error
- Catastrophic malfunctions
The scope of these events means they’re not quickly or easily resolved. Some, such as human error, can be mitigated, but the prevention of major world events and natural disasters is outside the realm of industry influence. Absent prevention, awareness, informed prediction, and preparation are the best options for handling supply chain disturbance.
Some disruptions are predictable. Hurricanes, for instance, can typically be tracked on their paths well in advance of landfall. Rising political tensions can be monitored. But other interruptions aren’t predictable at all. Earthquakes and forest fires are sudden and devastating, and human error frequently goes unnoticed until it’s too late. The COVID-19 global health crisis is a perfect example of just how quickly economic catastrophe can arise and throw everything, particularly supply chains, into chaos.
It’s essential to prepare for fallout before disaster looms. Even when the climate — political, economic, or otherwise — appears steady, the next unexpected event shouldn’t take industry, or industrial suppliers, completely unaware.
Supply chain disruptions are inevitable, so focus on avoiding severe damage when the next unforeseen blow lands. Start now by implementing these strategies:
- Communication. Stay connected with suppliers to minimize unexpected disruptions.
- Automation. From predictive algorithms to automatic data collection and analysis, automating supply chain management tasks reduces overall risk.
- Diversify. Build and maintain relationships with multiple industry suppliers for critical resources, so backups are in place when disruptions occur.
- Risk management. Make risk management a regular activity. Research the best risk management solutions for your industry, and implement plans for reducing risk in good times and bad.
- Flexibility. Shore up your risk management plans by examining several available options for each potential eventuality.
Supply chain disruptions happen. It’s vital to be prepared for whatever future presents itself. Keep an eye out for the problems you can predict, build strategies for navigating them, and develop flexible plans and options for those you can’t.