Amid recent global challenges, such as the Covid-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions caused by the crisis in Ukraine, the importance of resilient supply chains or supply chains is clearer than ever. The concept of smart supply chains, which uses data sharing and analysis to optimise the entire chain and reduce uncertainties, is gaining ground. To delve deeper into this topic, we invited Robert Boute of Flanders Make and Victor Adriaens of Atlas Copco to discuss the current focus and issues surrounding supply chains in our podcast "Sustainable Innovation".
Supply chain logistics has always been a crucial aspect of business, but in recent years it has become a primary concern for many manufacturing companies. The disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in global supply chains. Even the most advanced factories struggle to operate without a reliable and efficient supply chain. Several challenges have emerged in recent years, including supply chain shortages due to geopolitical events, the Suez Canal blockade and fluctuating energy prices.
Shock and unprecedented disruption
In the podcast, the guests highlight the shock and unprecedented disruption in supply chains. It all started when companies in the West became nervous about the possible closure of factories in China due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Consequently, they placed massive orders to secure their supplies, leading to rising inventories. When the pandemic hit Western countries, companies stopped their orders, worsening the stock situation. Eventually, a vaccine was developed, causing demand to flood the supply chain and causing shortages. Panic buying further exacerbated the situation, which then led to a global phenomenon of imbalances between supply and demand.
By collecting and analysing data, companies can gain insights, predict potential disruptions and make informed decisions.
To address these challenges, the conversation highlights the importance of resilient supply chains. Companies are advised to invest in strategies that reduce lead times and increase flexibility. For example, producing and ordering locally can mitigate the risks associated with global disruptions. The experts also mention the potential benefits of digitisation and data analytics in supply chain management. By collecting and analysing data, companies can gain visibility, predict potential disruptions and make informed decisions. The use of digital control towers and digital twins can provide real-time insights into the supply chain, enabling faster response to market changes.
In summary, it highlights the growing need for resilient supply chains in the face of global challenges. It highlights the importance of reducing lead times, investing in digitalisation and data analytics, and fostering collaboration between suppliers, carriers and manufacturers. By embracing these strategies, companies can make their supply chains more resilient and better handle uncertainties in an increasingly interconnected world.
Curious about this podcast episode on smart supply chains? Then listen or download the episode via (Dutch only):