Why are some supply chains handling the pandemic better than others?

At this point, there are few, if any, industries that have weathered the novel coronavirus pandemic and its resultant economic downturn free from difficulties. However, it is fair to say that some sectors have seen their supply chains hold up far better than others, and there may be a number of reasons for that.

First and foremost, anecdotal evidence certainly seems to suggest that a big part of the success some companies have enjoyed comes via stronger communication efforts, according to Susan Galer, communications director of SAP Global Communications, writing for Forbes. That way, when any issues arise – and they are more common than they were prior to the pandemic – all involved in the supply chain can discuss solutions that work for both themselves and their partners.

No matter where a company sits in the supply chain, planning is key.No matter where a company sits in the supply chain, planning is key.

Another key factor
Furthermore, businesses that already had strong risk mitigation initiatives in place, or those that were able to quickly cobble them together when the first signs of difficulty arose in February and March, were probably far more successful in navigating the ups and downs that came over those months, the report said. The situation likely also prompted many decision-makers to more carefully examine how resilient and sustainable their supply chains were, because if they were operating out of areas with high levels of infection or tighter government restrictions, that all had to be reflected in contingency planning.

Understanding the lay of the land
Putting all these strategies and contingencies together probably won’t be easy for many companies, but it’s increasingly obvious that it will be critical to their success, because there is no telling how long the pandemic will last – or how much worse it will get. For that reason, businesses would be wise to comb through whatever data they have from their own operations and those of their partners to determine which issues have cropped up and what might be done to get around those concerns smoothly. That may require more data sharing between partners now, but the added insight that can be gleaned from such an effort will go a long way toward ironing out potential problems in everyone’s processes.

Shifting demand was an issue throughout the past few months, but things seem to have settled down and largely gotten back to normal on most fronts, according to Freight Waves. That may be particularly true as states continue to loosen restrictions on commerce, though given the way the virus is once again spreading – and now spiking in a number of states – companies cannot take it for granted that restrictions may need to be bolstered once again.

Certainly, a nimble approach to dealing with the supply chain is advisable at the best of times, and these are hardly ideal. Consequently, a company at any step of the supply chain would be wise to continue coordinating with its partners on an ongoing basis to address whatever needs they may have and ensure they can all come out the other side of this downturn in a strong position to succeed.

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