Five steps to a disaster-resistant supply chain

What should you be looking at to ensure a smooth running supply chain?

Supply chain and logistics managers need good data to base their prediction on, and as markets got more complex and globalised, good, solid data is becoming very hard to come by. There can never really be enough data to predict everything that can go wrong with a modern, lean supply chain. You need to have a resilient and adaptable chain in place before something goes wrong to be able to cope with problems nowsupply chain and logistics

Below are a few things you can do to make your logistics operations more ready for catastrophes before they happen

1. Be prepared. Work to understand the biggest and most likely risks, keep the resources that make up your supply chain visible, and build up your operational readiness. 

Too glib? Let’s break that down a bit.

Risks: You cannot hope to foresee every risk, but you can still generate a useful risk matrix, and use it for assessment. Region or country-specific risk scenarios should be developed for your key resources, and those assets themselves should be consulted about what risks they expect.

Resource Visibility: Only data that can be accessed and interpreted is of any use. When the worst happens, your data must be up to date and available instantly. Invest in good systems. Also, look to integrate your systems with suppliers, 3PLs and other partners for better effect.

Operational readiness: Make, and distribute contingency plans for the most likely threats, as well as a few of the worst case long-shots. Make sure that those plans are flexible and can adapt to new information, as they will almost certainly be at least a little wrong when it is time to act.

2. Test your disaster plans for readiness. Break the plan into smaller modules that can be tested without disrupting operations, and test the modules frequently. Make sure to represent problems with all of your key assets, and get feedback across your organisation as to how the test went, and what should be improved.

3. Make sure your full disaster plan can be implemented fast, but flexibly. Track the response times in the testing stage, and take them into account here.

4. Maintain a few interchangeable suppliers for key components. This runs contrary to lean process dogma, but if your sole supplier in Hemel Hempstead gets sucked into a sinkhole, what would you do? You can’t make your supply chain fully redundant, of course, but you can identify a few things that you cannot operate without, and identify where to get them in a hurry.

5. Work on agile response. Consider plans which focus on periods of less than a month of development and immediate implementation, then begin again. Each iteration can address imperfections in the last, and each should address the highest

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