The Supply Chain Risk in the Wake of the Pandemic

Posted by: LMM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The aging US infrastructure and the start of the trade war between China and the US at the beginning of 2019 rang the alarm that the US Supply Chain was vulnerable.

The onset of the pandemic made it clear that the US dependency could be outright crippling.  The notion that the US supply chain should be strengthened, tightened, localized, and secured has now taken hold. 

The pandemic will eventually subside and the hard lessons and silver linings will crystalize to force us to refocus our efforts.

Difficult lessons being learned

ü  The dependency on China has to be reexamined in favor of shorter, or more diverse, supply chain routes.

ü  While our truckers are in route to deliver goods, they must take care of themselves (eating, resting and going to the bathroom are not negotiable).  With a lot of rest stops, restaurant are closed along their routes, bathroom breaks become difficult; “Call-a-head“ (a company that provides mobile bathrooms) would have a place in this equation and Waze could be utilized to strategically inform truckers of the positioning of temporary bathrooms.  

ü  The truckers who used to be exhausted, are now more so, which makes their managing a 4- 6 -8 wheeler more dangerous. The need to expand the workforce in logistics to allow proper rest and the protection of workers and goods is needed;

ü   The supply chain industry has fallen short to prioritize goods based on their urgency and a furniture company that secures a Fedex delivery is first in line ahead of badly needed medical supplies;

ü   The need to “rush” goods may have made our supply chain more vulnerable.

It is hopeful that quality control mechanisms in place prior to the pandemic, software protection meant to reduce and prevent malware and intrusions, are still in place and not relaxed.  But often times, in urgencies, companies may cut corners to expedite the speed of the process.  Case in point, medical supplies from China may be deemed a national security risk some say.

Silver lining

ü  Truckers no longer have to Zig Zag because of congestions thanks to the limited number of cars on the highways due to the “stay at home” orders across many states (NY, NJ, CT).

ü  Available vacancies in Logistics may spring forth so those that have been on the front line to get us our groceries can rotate and rest a bit.

ü  Conversion of airline passenger planes into cargo planes (American Airlines for instance)  have greatly assisted the logistics industry.

ü  Planning might be put in place to move supply chains either partially or fully, after the pandemic; this will require matching brokers to facilitate the process.

ü  The time has come to join forces with the Institute of Supply Chain Management, Logistics and Freight companies, Institutions of higher learning that host a Small Business Development Center, or run Logistics Programs. Together they can and should evaluate how best to match and shorten the supply chain to make it more efficient and more nimble. 

Sincerely. LMM

March 24, 2020

This article was inspired from this article: US Companies Face ‘Logistics Nightmare’ as Pandemic Creates Freight Bottlenecks, Epoch Times

Emel Akan, 3.23.20 / link 




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