Jeff Livingston, senior solutions consultant with QAD DynaSys, explains the importance of resilience in the supply-chain function, in times of high demand variability and uncertainty.
Businesses today need to be able to respond to unexpected events with a degree of agility and flexibility that will allow them to return to normal operations as quickly as possible, Livingston says. They might even take advantage of a difficult situation to improve planning accuracy and response.
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc with supply chains, some of which have experienced a plunge in demand while others have had to grapple with a surge in activity. Livingston cites one food company that has had to cope with both results — the virtual disappearance of business on the restaurant-supply end, and sales going “through the roof” for grocery accounts. Key to adjustment to such disruption is the ability to shift production lines and rebalance inventory on the fly.
Even without the pandemic, producers must be able to engage in detailed scenario planning, through the creation of “what-if” visualizations. Such capabilities have long been important in the event of short-term spikes in demand, but are now being deployed in a more strategic, long-term fashion.
The need to replan in the face of sudden shifts in demand is blurring the lines between planning and execution. But a string of natural disasters over the years has taught companies a valuable lesson about the need to have on hand a strategy that can apply to multiple types of events. One California-based company was able to repurpose an earthquake-response plan when Hurricane Hugo struck Puerto Rico, Livingston recalls.
The advent of the cloud and sophisticated analytics are making it possible for planners to collaborate both internally and externally to an extent that didn’t exist in years past, he says.
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