Secure your Supply Chain

Secure your Supply Chain

Supply Chain

Today, 1st March 2021 marks 1 year since Covid 19 arrived in Ireland. What a year it has been for the whole world.  Certainly, the last year has shown the fragility of supply chains. Initially there was a run-on supermarkets as people stocked up on toilet paper, pasta and pretty much anything they could get.  Then we saw a severe shortage of Ventilators. Then attention turned to PPE as masks, gloves and other protective equipment had to be flown in from China on special flights. The supply chains of electronics and cars are now suffering from a shortage of computer chips. And of course we had Brexit as companies on both sides of the Irish sea and across the English Channel struggled to work out exactly what would happen and what they needed to do to prepare.

But we are finally starting to make our way out of the pandemic uncertainty and now into the “New Normal Uncertainty”.  What is clear is many governments and companies will start to review their Supply Chains.  Recent announcements by the Biden administration are only the start of this process.

So what can you do to help review your supply chain and ensure it is not vulnerable to any future shock? For many people the immediate reaction may be to jump straight to a new supplier closer to home or to look to dual source.  Those are two valid options. But they by themselves won’t protect you from the next crisis.  You need to secure your supply chain not just your suppliers.  Here are six steps to help with that.

  1. Make excellent customer service the priority across your whole organisation. Demand that from your suppliers.  Start by understanding the realities of life or business for your ultimate suppliers and customers.
  2. Require new product development to be focused on flexible design so that products can be quickly and easily adapted to meet changes in supply or demand. Adapt production principles such as postponement and late differentiation to ensure flexibility.
  3. Promote the flow of information first with your suppliers and customers and then across the whole supply chain. Implement systems to allow real time data exchange with key customers and suppliers.
  4. Make a culture of collaboration and partnership core to the relationship you have with your suppliers and customers.  Share cost savings across the supply chain. Don’t demand all the benefits but none of the pain.
  5. Dual source critical components and materials.  Don’t just award business based only on price. Make security of supply critical to at least the second source.
  6. Develop contingency and crisis management plans and appoint people to be responsible for those plans.