Navigating the Challenges of Global Supply Chain Disruptions
- Tom Carmichael, Jr.
Apr 28, 2023
Over the last few years, the world has experienced unprecedented disruptions in the global supply chain due to various factors. From the pandemic to extreme weather conditions, these disruptions have led to significant challenges for businesses of all sizes. Due to these considerable disruptions, many companies have had to change their typical business methods, seeking unanticipated alternatives that continue to impact businesses.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a massive strain on the global supply chain, leading to significant disruptions that continue to impact businesses today. Because of pandemic-driven lockdowns and border closures, the movement of goods and people were disrupted for some time, affecting all aspects of the supply chain, from sourcing raw materials to delivering finished goods to customers. As a result, businesses experienced delays in production and shipment, which reduced inventory levels, and increased costs.
A significant impact of pandemic-related disruptions was a shift in consumer behavior. With many people working from home and limiting travel, the demand for online shopping and home delivery increased. This shift in demand led to a shortage of goods in some areas and a surplus in others, making it challenging for businesses to manage their inventory levels appropriately.
Another factor that has contributed to supply chain disruptions is natural disasters. Extreme weather conditions, including hurricanes, floods, and wildfires, cause significant damage to infrastructure and disrupt transportation networks. In recent years, several high-profile natural disasters have affected global supply chains. These disruptions often lead to delays in the movement of goods and services, impacting production schedules and inventory levels and causing increased consumer costs.
Geopolitical factors such as trade wars and political instability can also impact global supply chains. An increase in protectionist policies, such as tariffs and trade barriers, has disrupted the movement of goods and services between countries, leading to increased costs for businesses and delays in production and shipment.
Political instability in some world regions has also impacted global supply chains and disrupted the movement of goods through these regions, leading to delays and increased business costs.
How Businesses Can Anticipate Changes
Given the ongoing disruptions in the global supply chain, businesses need to be prepared for changes and adapt their operations accordingly. Steps that businesses can make to offset many of these unanticipated changes to the market include:
- Diversification: Businesses can reduce their reliance on a single supplier or region by diversifying their supply chain. By sourcing materials and products from multiple suppliers or regions, they can reduce the risk of disruptions caused by natural disasters or geopolitical factors.
- Automation: Automation can help businesses reduce their reliance on manual labor and improve the overall efficiency of the operation. By automating its production processes, a company can reduce its dependence on human workers, who may be affected by pandemic-related disruptions or other disasters.
- Technology: Technology can play a significant role in helping businesses improve the visibility and efficiency of their supply chain operations. By using technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, businesses can track the movement of goods and identify potential disruptions before they occur.
- Resilience: Businesses can improve their resilience by developing contingency plans that can be implemented in the event of a disruption. For example, businesses can establish alternative transportation routes or stockpile critical components to ensure sufficient inventory levels remain throughout the supply disruption.
While global supply chain disruptions have become an ongoing challenge for businesses of all types, by anticipating the disruptions and planning accordingly, businesses can mitigate the impact of these disruptions and continue to meet the needs of their customers. If you have questions about how you can better prepare your business to weather future disruptions, contact your CRI advisor. They are experienced in providing solutions and can help prepare you and your company for today's rapidly changing business environment.