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Supply Chain reliance. It is required.

The pandemic has thrown much of the Supply Chain mechanism and ecosystem into disruption and disarray. That is a given. In a changing landscape resilience and flexibility are important attributes for supply chain professionals writes Tom Craig President LTD Management, Pennsylvania, USA, a leading authority and professional consultant on logistics and supply chain management and regular contributor to Global Supply Chain—Editor.

Here are some thoughts for manufacturers, retailers, and MNCs on supply chain resilience. This is a work in progress.

Becoming supply chain resilient is not confined to the four walls and technology.  Building supply chain resilience is not optional.

Over the past almost 18 months, think of all the stories about supply chains.  The E2E (Exchange-to-Exchange) supply chain is a case in point.  Its innate resilience is being tested daily. When material, manufacturing, logistics and transport demand exceed their design capabilities and the impact of the pandemic continues, then increased supply chain resilience implies reduced supply chain risk.

Supply chain management is the largest part of every company–external and internal. And it touches about every department inside.

There are two parts to your supply chain resilience—inside the confines of your facilities and outside. Inside the company gets much attention.  Outside, despite its size and complexity, does not and that can be a shortcoming in your effort.

Start with your supply chain structure–the organization, process and technology. Much of the stories on SCM resilience talk about technology.  That can be a singularity of focus and miss much as to supply chains.  Let’s go beyond things like robotics, drones, and 3D printing.

Data analytics:  Think of all the data across your end-to-end supply chain and what it can mean to operations and performance.

Digitization: This also provides more data for analytics and all participants in your E2E supply chain.

Visibility: This is more than the track and trace transportation providers give you. Go deeper and granular. The real needs are with your inventory, purchase orders, and customer orders. Take a purchase order and track all that happens, including parties that you may not normally see.

Blockchain: Getting all the transaction participants involved including those you may not see.  Build the blocks for your chain. This gives visibility and data.

Assess your process: Removing gaps improves your speed and responsiveness.  Gaps are potential points where there is no resilience.  Follow your inventory / products / finished goods / raw materials, and more. Take your purchase orders and customer orders. See each step of the process. Look for gaps and redundancies, made to compensate for gaps.

Look at the two segments of your supply chain—upstream / inbound and downstream / outbound. Upstream is large and complex. It is where the supply of supply chains begins. There are supply chains within supply chains.

Map your end-to-end supply chain.   That is important so you can see everything.  That includes parties you may not see or come in direct contact with; ones that your suppliers or logistics providers may use. Work with your suppliers on resilience.  That includes having them work with their suppliers’ resilience.  Now you see the size and complexity.

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