5 Ways COVID Has Changed the Electronic Supply Chain Landscape
- Paper-based processes are in the past
- Supply chain resilience requires creativity
- There is a greater need for supply chain diversification
- Compliance regulations may become more strict due to the pandemic
- The pandemic has only exacerbated Western tensions with China
Paper-Based Processes Are Becoming Obsolete
The restrictions placed during lockdown revealed many of the kinks in paper-based processes between suppliers and buyers. In the upcoming year, companies are emphasizing digitizing their supply chain processes and negotiations to build resilience.
Digitized supply chain processes allow companies to more effectively conduct risk mapping and enable them to obtain greater flexibility in identifying and onboarding alternative suppliers. If a key link in the supply chain is beginning to snap, then digitized, expedited supply chain processes help a company find a reliable replacement with real-time visibility.
Even before the pandemic shed a light on supply chain management and the need for data analytics through digitized processes, companies were already projecting important use cases for digital supply chains to:
- Reduce cost
- Improve Quality
- Improve service
- Optimize inventory
According to a supply chain resilience report from BCI, 63% of companies have no tech systems in place for their supply chain monitoring processes. That 63% figure will dwindle as the pandemic continues to push companies toward a digital supply chain process.
COVID has been a wake-up call.
Creativity Is Necessary for Supply Chain Resilience
2020 has been quite the statistical outlier. Companies have had to pull some really creative moves to ensure a steady supply chain. Although vaccines are now being administered to many essential workers, COVID will still catalyze companies to innovate their supply chain and promote increased resilience.
By switching to digital supply chains, companies can more easily monitor where their supplies come from and where they go.
Increased visibility = increased supply chain resilience.
And with more effective site-mapping, supply chains see increased flexibility due to on-hand information used to explore more stable and resilient suppliers.
Diversified Supply Chains Are as Important as Ever
Shutdowns and quarantines led to supply shortages across manufacturers in multiple countries. And although companies were already leaning on diversifying their supply chains pre-COVID, it's now more apparent than ever that companies need to source their parts and supplies from diverse suppliers. In addition to COVID, there is genuine concern in the scientific community regarding climate change and increased extreme weather events. From extreme heat waves to coastal flooding and hurricanes, businesses need to use COVID and climate change as a catalyst to kickstart their digital, diverse supply chains.
According to Reuters, a 2018 survey shows that over 66% of companies saw yearly disruptions caused by extreme weather events in their supply chain. And 38% of companies saw disruptions at least once every 3 months.
Non-diversified supply chains are starting to look like car phones—
In addition to tariffs, natural disasters, geopolitical struggles, and more, the threat of current and potential pandemics has really pushed companies into creating a more flexible supply chain. A supply chain that sources key components from multiple suppliers in different locations.
A Greater Emphasis on Compliance Regulations
Supply chain experts and research firms, such as Deloitte, have pondered a potential increase in corruption among companies who are having difficulty navigating supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic. And it's no wonder. Many components, including capacitors, have seen increased lead times over the summer. These lead times were an effect of skeleton staffs and curtailed production caused by the onset of the pandemic.
The pandemic has created an air of regulatory uncertainty—leaders are considering new policies and mandates to help countries cope with COVID. One of the best ways to combat uncertainty is to utilize emerging technologies to better mitigate operation crises. While new digital tools can lead to revised regulatory policies, Z2Data's digital supply tools can better aid a company in its pursuit of compliance standards.
Losing Touch With China
Harvard Business Review (HBR) and other supply chain experts have reported the pandemic will accelerate the decoupling of U.S.-China trades. Companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft have focused on relocating their supply chains to other Asian nations such as Thailand and Vietnam. Decoupling from China is motivated, in one way, by a need for companies to source from countries less prone to political and geopolitical risks.
As the U.S. and China tariffs appear to have no visible end in sight [link to China tariffs article], companies are relocating supply chains to lower their risk of investment. Regarding U.S.-China trade relations, HBR said it best, "hope is not a strategy."
Innovative companies like Apple can relocate their supply chains by using digitized, modern processes to easily evaluate alternative sourcing options. This is one of the many ways they can hold their position at the fore of the digital frontier.