Those responsible for supply chain management are well-versed in preparing for disruption if they want to maintain efficiency and weather the storms that affect a global industry. Typically attention has focused on Asia as being the hotbed for disruption, but a recently published report by Resilinc reveals that North America has overtaken Asia for disruption events in supply chains.
Given Trump’s likely attempts and successes at changing the North American face of trade – and with it, supply chains – a closer look needs to be taken. Obviously, the specific industries affected will vary, but there are some key elements to look at when it comes to assessing what disrupts a supply chain.
Factors Disrupting Supply Chains
Supply chains are so inherently complex that inevitably there are an overwhelming myriad of causes for disruption within them. It would be impossible to list them all. However, the top causes of disruption in supply chains are not simply from one category, but reflect a mix of environmental, geographical, political and man-made problems.
The prime contenders for disruption in the supply chain include: mergers and acquisitions; factory fires and explosions; reorganisation and management change; earthquakes; business sales; labour strikes and disruptions; hurricanes; and other extreme weather. Whilst some can’t be predicted, many can. Many of the factors disrupting supply chains can be managed to result in efficiency continuing in the face of change.
Understanding Your Supply Chain
In order to mitigate risk within your supply chain and to ensure that disruptions are kept to a minimum, it is important to keep abreast of potential disruptions within your particular supply chain. This means taking a view that encompasses the whole chain from start to end. It involves looking at each geographical area within the supply chain, and assessing it for risk in terms of disruption coming from natural disasters such as earthquakes or extreme weather. Going beyond this it also involves looking at political stability and agendas, economic situations and any other factors unique to this particular geographical location.
In short, you need to become an avid follower of local news, as well as nurturing collaborative relationships throughout the chain, so that you can fully understand them. From here you need to build contingencies and have an understanding of how you could, and would, respond in the face of particular disruptions.
Disruptions to Supply Chains in the UK
For those operating within and through the UK this is currently going to require a very careful and watchful eye of developments with Brexit, and relations with the Trump-USA. Perhaps at no other time in modern history have disruptions due to political changes been so likely to change the face of supply chains in the UK. Being ahead of the game, predicting what might happen, and ensuring your supply chain can respond to that, is going to be crucial to efficiency and success long term.