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Strategic decisions and actions that supply chains and logistics providers should consider include:
Engaging in greater collaboration. Logistics providers are likely to collaborate with related companies to step up their capabilities and cater to the rising demand for supplies. For example, UPS Healthcare has joined with Resilinc, a provider of AI-based supply-chain mapping, to locate and deliver critical medical items and equipment. FedEx is collaborating with governments, NGOs, suppliers and retailers to deliver COVID-19 test kits and protective equipment. Bergen Logistics is providing warehouse space to a mobile field hospital.
De-risking through supply-chain strategies. Supply chains are likely to become much more diversified, with the pandemic exposing the dangers of over-dependence on a single vendor or geography. Traditionally, businesses have prioritized suppliers that provide consistent quality at the lowest price, but will now have to consider additional parameters. For their part, logistics companies will have to create networks that allow them to tap more sources and minimize potential points of failure.
Embracing technology. The pandemic has caused an unprecedented push for technology adoption across traditionally technology-shy segments. Logistics companies that earlier dismissed digital tools such as electronic-signature software and shipment-tracking apps as non-essential expenses need to take a fresh look at what digital can offer. Jordan Speer, research manager for global supply chain with IDC, believes this is a time of opportunity for many technologies that were poised to take a leap forward, such as 3-D design and printing, autonomous mobile robots, and blockchain. Logistics companies should also upgrade to systems that bring new levels of resilience and efficiency, and allow for remote interaction.
Making smarter use of data. Most organizations were caught unawares by the pandemic. Going forward, they’re likely to place more emphasis on collecting and analyzing data to improve operations and decision-making. One could take a lesson from AGCO, an American manufacturer of agricultural equipment, which managed to stay ahead of the pandemic with a supply chain that included risk-notification and visualization capability, triggering alerts about unusual material flow from suppliers across the globe. As a result, the company was able to predict shutdowns and plan shipments in time to keep the business running.