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ONE YEAR OUT: HOW PANDEMIC SHUTDOWNS ARE IMPACTING SUPPLY CHAINS

Shortages, delays, and supply “scares” have become common in the COVID era. Despite their best efforts, supply chains across industries are still in flux from the impact of global manufacturing and shipping shutdowns in spring 2020. 

Coronavirus Places Strain On Supply Chains

We’ve seen our fair share of headlines about the impacts of demand far outpacing supply. Things like

And the list goes on. Chicken, chlorine, computer chips, gas, ketchup, steel… All in short supply as supply chains work to compensate for shifts in the levers of the global economy over the past year. 

Supply Chain Stressors Continue In 2021

Some experts cite fluctuations in standard demand as people spent more time at home. While others cite manufacturing delays or panic buying habits that cause irregular spikes in demand. Additionally, shutdowns caused disruptions to standard production timelines and output, eventually impacting supply and deliverability across supply chain networks. And, on the heels of all this, shortages in containers, drastic winter weather conditions, and the Suez Canal blockage continue to impact the flow of goods across the globe.

Purchasing managers surveyed by the Institute for Supply Management last month anticipated worsening supply-demand imbalances in a variety of areas as the U.S. economy continues to open up. Many of their companies already face depleted inventories up and down their supply chains, price increases, higher rates of delinquent shipments, and longer lead times for orders. From the vantage point of sourcing experts who are managing suppliers, the outlook is grim: They expect disruptions to last for longer than 12 months.” Harvard Business Review

Supply Chain Sees Wins In 2020

2020 Did not go without it’s accomplishments. MIT Professor and Director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, Yossi Sheffi, cited several wins in a recent article for Forbes. Most noticeably, the supply chain did hold, in large part thanks to quick fixes and “duck tape” solutions that managed to keep the systems afloat. 

Adaptation was the name of the game as supply chains had to make drastic shifts to the consumption demands, for example, shifts in food distribution demands as the population moved from restaurant and cafeteria dining to cooking at home for a large portion of the year.

As we move forward towards mass vaccine roll outs and hopefully a return to some sense of normalcy, the strains on the supply chain will continue to be in full view. So, what can logistics and supply chain experts do to shine in 2021? Sheffi has a few ideas. 

Opportunities For Supply Chains In 2021

At the top of his list? Keeping supply chain flexibility without cutting corners. “There are many roads to supply chain success in 2021, thanks to continued growth in e-commerce and omnichannel retail, as well as lower technology barriers to entry for small suppliers, and new deals in fulfillment and delivery,” says Sheffi.

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