John Caltabiano, vice president of supply chain with manufacturing services provider Jabil Inc., discusses the results of a recent survey of supply-chain professionals about how they’re weathering the coronavirus pandemic.
Conducted against the backdrop of COVID-19, this year’s survey uncovered widespread concern about supply-chain resilience, Caltabiano says. While there has been no lack of disruptions caused by natural disasters in recent years, the global pandemic has spurred a new level of awareness of the issue.
One surprising finding of the survey was that a number of companies were fairly well-prepared to deal with disruptions caused by the pandemic, due to investments in technology made over the last couple of years. “A high percentage said that those investments were key to how they were able to respond.” At the same time, even companies that had made significant investments in supply-chain resilience said they realize the need to do much more.
Responses to the pandemic are taking many forms, including possible changes in sourcing patterns and diversification of supplier bases. As for technology investments, they are being focused on achieving visibility of all nodes of the supply chain — a capability that companies require before they can effect serious changes in the way they source, manufacture and distribute products.
Equally important to many manufacturers, says Caltabiano, is the acquisition of analytics capabilities: “What do you do with your data, and do you have the ability to manage what it tells you?”
Feedback from major manufacturers reveals the beginnings of a major shift in supply-chain strategy, away from a focus exclusively on low cost to one that considers factors such as the dangers of single-sourcing, and the distance between factories and markets. “Companies need cost-effective supply chains,” says Caltabiano, “but not at the expense of resilience.”
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