Supply chains after COVID-19

The current pandemic has hit the global supply chain in unexpected and unforeseen ways.

Experts concur that in order to bounce back more quickly and restore supply chains to their pre-pandemic levels, new ways will be needed to manage their supply chains. This will include using data with the Internet of Things (IoT), Machine Learning, AI and analytics.

Every company's supply chain has had a different level of exposure to coronavirus, but according to supply chain expert Christopher Caine, President, Center for Global Enterprise, all companies should formulate their "attack plan" for dealing with the effects of the pandemic by abiding by these simple rules.

Companies should:

■ Establish a coronavirus "war room" with cross-functional representation from key departments.

■ Assess supply chain risk and determine new options for meeting customer demand.

■ Review their existing supply chain data models and revise them as necessary to gather information relevant to their new environment, the environment of uncertainty and disruption.

■ Inspect all suppliers and negotiate favourable terms in the face of multiple conflicting demands.

Attempts should be made to modify logistics and deliveries to accommodate global travel constraints, to protect workers safety, potentially with work from home options, and finally, to model the impact of the virus on financial performance and take the necessary measures.

Bearing in mind all these factors now, this is probably the best possible time to adjust company processes to the "new reality" we shall all experience after the pandemic is over. Another study has indicated that 44% of retailers will expect delays and 40% will expect inventory shortages, given coronavirus disruptions to the global supply chain. More than half of electronics manufacturers surveyed in a recent research study said that, "they anticipated up to 4 weeks in supply chain delays".

Combining analytics with AI could allow for the designing of systems to mimic human intelligence, but only so long as there is sufficient data to power them. Supply chain managers should be aware that there are many more sophisticated and accurate tools available to run analytics more effectively than Microsoft Excel.

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