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Preparing your supply chain for a crisis

The Covid-19 pandemic is easily the worst global upheaval that we’ve had to endure in the past decade. Even now, it continues unabated and it feels as though we’ve lost the better parts of the year to it. The shipping industry is not exempted from the effects of the pandemic, and it’s revealed both the fragility and importance of global supply chains.

The main characteristic of a supply chain is that it is a continuous process. Supply lines are not instantaneous, and we need to account for time and motion, which means that a delay in shipment will also result in a shortage of supplies. A stoppage of shipments can easily translate to an utter lack of supplies for an extended period of time.

Now that we’ve established the importance of an uninterrupted supply chain, what are some ways to ensure that your supply chain can stay operational, even during a crisis?

Establish Contingency Plans

As you might already know, we need to have contingency plans that are able to account for the volatility of supply demands. Companies need to develop plans for both optimal and detrimental scenarios. In the case of this pandemic, we have to plan for a situation where the pandemic is contained by the end of the year, as well as a situation where the impact resonates beyond 2020. Planning for multiple scenarios will allow you to be prepared when either situation occurs.

Mitigate Supply Deficit

Suppliers also have to work with their business partners to match supplies with demand and to account for any sudden impacts on the market. This helps safeguard businesses and suppliers against product and material shortages. This is especially important for products that have long supply cycles.

Manage Demand Volatility

Businesses tend to cease promotions, prioritize products, and separate inventory reserves as measures to protect against spikes and drops in demand. These spikes in demand are best illustrated in panic buying situations, as is what happened during the onset of the pandemic where people rushed out to buy masks and tissue paper, among other things.

Ensure Work Safety

Another thing to address is the matter of safety. Shippers need to ensure that their workers are safe by equipping them with the necessary tools and equipment. Stocking up on personal protective equipment (PPE) will not only keep your workers safe, but will also help mitigate the effects of a spike in PPE demand.

Technology, both old and new, needs to be secured. Everything from complex software to something as simple as forklifts from Toyota Lift Northwest need to be double-checked.

The need to establish a secure supply chain has never been more important than it is today, especially when you consider that most communities have been placed under a quarantine. The fact that the eCommerce sector is flourishing shows that there is a greater need for the supply chain to get products to these businesses.

The importance of securing a supply chain goes beyond the challenges of today. This is because it’s likely that the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t going to be the only crisis we’ll have to weather.

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