For the first time in our lives, most of us began to look at the way the global supply chain works when the COVID-19 pandemic struck in December 2019. By 2020, stores and online retailers across the world were reporting panic buying with the medical sector also affected by the tendency of the general public to hoard supplies at a time of crisis, according to the World Bank.
The pressure placed on the global supply chains during the pandemic has not eased completely with nations affected by second waves of COVID-19 seeing more panic buying and reductions in the number of products ordered by stores, according to UC Riverside. Technology is changing the way supply chains are managed and having a positive effect on how global supply chains cope with the aid of innovators, such as MRO Inventory Solutions.
1. Global Vs Local Supply Chains
What has been learned during the COVID-19 pandemic is the lack of resilience in both global and local supply chains. One of the major calls from consumers, when they could not find their favored products on the shelves of a store when they wanted, was that every retailer should switch to a local supplier for products. In reality, local supply chains have as little resistance to unexpected events as those using local suppliers. News reports have shown farmers supplying local restaurants have been destroying their crops and food products because local companies have shuttered their doors.
2. Technology can Limit Impacts
What has to be said is COVID-19 was a global event that nobody in any business had foreseen, in terms of its impact on the global economy. Earlier SARS outbreaks had not become global events, but earlier events had shown the power of analytics in the global supply chain. The use of technology, such as MRO Inventory Solutions, has been shown to allow the right decisions to be made to keep production offline for as short a time as possible. Proctor & Gamble used this form of global supply chain technology in the buildup to Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Irma as they battled to keep production facilities working in New Jersey. Eventually, these two facilities had just over two days of downtime caused by unexpected events, such as COVID-19 and weather events.
The ongoing trade wars between the U.S. and China had always had the potential to push China to the center of any debate about global supply chains in the 21st-century. COVID-19 has had the effect of pushing the CHina debate to the fore far earlier than anybody could have imagined. The supply chain lessons that are being learned include the issue of any global supply chain not being reliant on a single area to source all its components.
The reliance on China of most manufacturers in North America and Europe saw many industries grinding to a halt when components of products were no longer available. The question of whether China should remain at the heart of the global supply chain is not a question that is easily answered because of the manufacturing capabilities of the Chinese economy.
4. An Agile Approach to the Global Supply Chain
There have been many success stories in the global supply chain during the COVID-19 era, but they do not get the news coverage of the negative stories that have dominated the media. One of the things we have learned about the global supply chain is its ability to move in an agile way and bring success to different parts of chains across the planet.
The U.K. has struggled to overcome the medical issue of COVID-19, but its position in the global supply chain has never been higher because of the agile nature of many business leaders. The McLaren Formula One team made giant leaps alongside its fellow automotive racing team, Mercedes when they developed a new Continuous Positive Airway Pressure ventilator device. Other success stories in the global supply chain have been the retooling of facilities by Brewdog to manufacture hand sanitizer instead of alcoholic beverages.
5. Changing the way the Global Supply Chain Works
One of the most impressive aspects of the global supply chain and those who use it during the COVID-19 era is the ability of business leaders to adapt and identify issues for the future. The uncertainty over COVID-19 has pushed many business leaders to identify the areas where their chain is struggling to remain effective. One of the biggest issues identified in the last few months has been the reliance on passenger airlines for the movement of freight. Around 40 percent of the air freight moving the global supply chain uses passenger flights that drew to a standstill during the early days of the pandemic. Taking a positive approach to the identified problems is changing the way the global supply chain is moving forward in the future.