There are signs that global supply chains are becoming more resilient, although there is still room for improvement. For instance, use of sole suppliers and just-in-time manufacturing techniques may keep costs low by reducing in-process inventory, eliminating redundancies, and maximizing output, however, they also increase supply chain vulnerability.
Indeed, a white paper from Advisen Ltd.—titled “The Vulnerability of Global Supply Chains: The Importance of Resiliency in the Face of Systemic Risk,” which was sponsored by AIG—notes that modern supply chains are structured to optimize manufacturing operations under normal conditions, but aren’t necessarily engineered to withstand catastrophic events. Supply chain vulnerability also occurs when suppliers are concentrated in the same region or vicinity, and may be impacted by a single event.
“This is an increasingly common global occurrence, particularly in Asia where industrial parks specialize in one or two key industries and therefore concentrate risk,” Carol Barton, head of commercial property, from AIG’s Global Property Division, explains in the paper.
In the aftermath of several major catastrophes, many companies have had to reassess their operating models and develop supply chain strategies that incorporate more comfortable levels of risk. The just-in-time production strategy, while efficient and cost effective, has also proven extremely vulnerable to a variety of risks. This has led to an increased focus on mitigating risk and building resiliency into supply chains, but many companies may still be inadequately prepared for a major disruption, Barton says. Understanding the sources of supply chain risks, mapping and modeling supply chain exposures, and developing and implementing effective risk management strategies to minimize exposures to loss will position companies to fare much better in an increasingly challenging global environment, she says.
Outsourcing, lean manufacturing and just-in-time inventory are proven cost cutters. But they can stretch global supply chains to a breaking point. (RT @DnBUS: How #lean do you want your #supplychain to be?
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