Learnings from the supply chain crisis


By  Dennis van Bodegom, Director Northern Europe, Shippeo.

The last year was marked by a lot of disruption, from the Coronavirus pandemic to the Suez Canal blockage to Brexit, leading to staff shortages (particularly drivers) and materials shortages, and – ultimately – price increases. While these crises were challenging, they also raised the profile of supply chain visibility and highlighted the importance of resilience in the face of unexpected events.

This was the tenor of Visibility Now!, a customer community event organised by Shippeo, a global leader and European specialist in real-time transportation visibility, which took place on 17 November 2021 in partnership with Savoye, TESISQUARE®, and Siemens Digital Logistics.

This year’ event focused on customer centricity and operational excellence, automation, and the future of supply chain visibility. It featured a diverse line-up of speakers, including Shippeo clients Renault Groupe, Coca-Cola Hellenic, DHL and Nexans, as well as global supply chain thought leader Dr. John Gattorna, who defined the key message: “The experience of the last twelve months shows that normal forecasting techniques no longer apply. We need to de-globalise, reset our supply chains and aim for resilience, agility and risk mitigation just as much as pricing.”

When crisis strikes, having a clear and consistent view across the full supply chain enables logistics operators to take preventative action. What’s needed to achieve this level of visibility is a platform that acts as a link between carriers, production and trade in order to best manage such crisis periods. The benefit of such a platform is improved data quality. And of course the most important question is how that data is leveraged, and what decisions are taken based on it. 

A leading OEM, for example, has vastly improved performance and customer satisfaction by introducing real-time visibility into the whole supply chain. Using several automated workflows, the company is able to collaborate in real-time with all its partners, be it suppliers, carriers, or transport teams. 

A supply chain coordinator at this OEM, said: “We wanted to have a platform that didn’t just check the position of a truck on a map, we wanted a collaborative platform as the foundation of our control tower. While it’s important to know the location of all trucks, we specifically care about the location of those trucks that carry urgent parts, for which a delay might cause the stop of a production line. The visibility platform enables us to know which emergencies to work on, and to prioritise them according to the right criteria.”

But there are other benefits which, in view of the recent COP26 climate summit, should be highlighted: t he company found that in addition to improved performance, there was a reduction in the number of kilometres travelled and a reduction in  inefficiencies.

Or take Nexans, a leader in the design and manufacturing of cable systems and services. The company has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. To achieve such massive emissions cuts will require Nexans to measure its performance. Thanks to the global deployment of a visibility platform, Nexans now knows exactly where a delivery started and where it ended, as well as the route it took. This enables the company to make the right decisions based on an understanding of the footprint of its supply chain operations. Nexans can now focus on cost reductions while also taking into account the carbon impact perspective.

So, what have we learned? The logistics sector is highly competitive, and in recent years has transitioned into the digital space at a tremendous pace. Companies should embrace the digital transformation of their supply chains by focusing on solutions that are not only predictive but provide insight into a business’ performance. To remain competitive, customer-focused and crisis-ready, they should invest in automation and systematic data analysis and exchange.

Let’s give Dr. Gattorna the last word: “If you can digitise your supply chain, you can visualise what’s going on, react quickly, and make faster decisions. Faster decision making is the secret to overcoming volatility. In order to prepare for the extreme disruption of the kind we’ve seen with Covid, we have to prepare by embedding resilience into supply chains. That’s the future - resilience is the key.”

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