Geraint John, vice president analyst with Gartner’s Supply Chain Practice, reveals the results of a survey in which companies described their current efforts at achieving supply-chain resiliency and agility.
John defines “agility” and “resiliency” differently. The first term is the ability to act rapidly in the short run to fulfill changing customer needs, while the second refers to efforts to build long-term capabilities into supply chains, so as to better handle future disruptions.
Events of the last several years, including the U.S.-China trade war and coronavirus pandemic, have served to accelerate efforts by businesses to strengthen their supply chains. Of the supply-chain professionals surveyed by Gartner, more than half are investing in planning systems with autonomous capabilities, harnessing artificial intelligence, and acquiring demand-sensing tools, John says. Two-thirds said they are investing in visibility systems, in a bid to gain an end-to-end view of their supply chains, all the way from customer to supplier. They are also renewing efforts at mapping their upstream supply chains, covering multiple supplier tiers.
More than 60% see the need for better supply-chain risk-monitoring technology, which might include logistics control towers, geographic visualization tools and round-the-clock alerting. Some respondents are beginning to introduce predictive analytics to help navigate around potential disruptions before they have a significant negative impact. And automation is a priority on the factory and warehouse floor.
Beyond the acquisition of technology, some companies are looking to shift manufacturing out of China while diversifying their supply base. Some of those efforts involve the setting up of plants in the U.S., although Mexico and other parts of Asia are also targets for new sourcing. They are also investing in additional inventory, moving away from strict just-in-time strategies that minimize or eliminate buffer stock from the supply chain.
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