Supply Chain Navigation and Technology During Covid-19

Supply Chain is a continued topic of conversation for many businesses alike. 2020 was a year to remember for everyone in the world after the first outbreak of Covid-19. For many individuals this meant staying home and protecting themselves and loved ones from the uncertainty associated with the virus. For companies, this pandemic posed a nightmare.

On a larger scale, manufacturing companies were forced to rethink how they typically conducted business. While researched concept, lean supply chain management was considered, arguably the most favorable strategy, Covid-19 had disrupted operations on a massive scale, challenging certain industry manufacturers to respond quickly and put a plan in place immediately. Increases in demand for Covid-19 product necessities such as hand sanitizer, masks, and cleaning supplies have challenged these certain manufacturers to look closely at their end-to-end operations with even greater speed than ever before.

Other manufacturers deemed ‘non-essential’ to Covid-19 activities had decreases in demand, therefore requiring decision makers to act quickly and re-evaluate their strategies as well. Moreover, the pandemic posed some manufacturers with too much demand and others with too little, all resulting in a mixed matched mess.

All manufacturers were posed with operational and financial consequences because of the virus, forcing new risk management decisions in every aspect of the business. Areas include goods and materials, transportation and logistics, and business opportunities. On top of this, worker shortages and acquiring talent within the industry were detrimental to an already challenging position. According to a recent survey done by the National Association of Manufacturers, 78.3% anticipated a financial impact, 51.3% anticipated a change in operations, and 35.5% of manufacturers faced supply chain disruptions. Specific complications came with issues on parts arriving late, and therefore delivering those parts to the customer late. For operational activities, manufacturers who sold ‘non-essential’ items anticipated reduced customer demand and slowdowns. Employees everywhere requested work from home opportunities and staggard shifts whenever they had to work in-house (National Association of Manufacturers, 2020).

While the pandemic has taught many manufacturers lessons over the past two years, there are some key points to note for improvement and future occurrences. Three ways manufacturers can build up their businesses to safeguard against potential supply chain issues again are increasing visibility across the supply chain, digitalizing records, and staying connected with employees and customers. Indeed, technology can help increase efficiency, and both map and track supply chain. Some suggested technologies for mapping include radio-frequency identification tags, cloud-based global position tracking software, and fleet tracking software. Additionally, risk management software can aid in conducting risk assessment so businesses can better make sound decisions within marketplace.

It holds true that the increased demand for employees wanting to work from home posed some more challenges to manufacturers’ business models. In order to increase employee collaboration associated with the virtual workspace, proper audio and visual equipment is needed to maximize efficiency. For ease and reliability, WyreStorm’s Home Office Kit may be implemented for smooth meetings, important synergy between co-workers and customers, and relief from unreliable technology otherwise used.

Although the pandemic has impacted most manufacturers’ supply chains negatively, the lessons learned and kindness in humanity are more important. Together, we can navigate through these unpredictable times. The present challenge is to evolve, reconsider, and reshape.

References

National Association of Manufacturers. (2020). Economic and operational impacts of covid-19 to manufacturers. NAM. Retrieved January 28, 2022, from https://www.nam.org/coronasurvey/