The COVID19 supply chain challenge

When we saw supply chain challenges begin to rise in China, due to Coronavirus containment measures, there was no indication of the massive scale of Global disruption that would unfold in the coming months and how our customers in the medical sector have coped.

The initial supply interruptions from Asia were swiftly replaced by massive global demand for PPE and essential medical goods and the challenges of moving product as modes of transport and particularly air freight became much harder to secure.

Ultimately, the experience managing supply chains through 2020’s spread of COVID-19 and beyond may provide a good business case for companies to further evolve their supply chain operations.

For many customers a critical challenge has been managing a level of demand for COVID-19 products, while maintaining supply for their standard business.

Focusing on relationships with primary suppliers has been key in growing capacity with their existing supply base, and creating relationships with the lower tiers of suppliers to grow faster.

In most cases they didn’t have a relationship with these lower tier suppliers, so they were contacting them for the first time, introducing themselves and asking suppliers to increase capacity by the highest possible multiples, to meet the massive demand we saw as the Virus gripped the UK.

Key takeaways from every earlier natural disaster and public health crisis have underlined the importance of stockpiling, but memories are short, which means that very few businesses had sufficient inventory, when the demand floodgates opened.

When you run into a disruptive event like COVID-19, the benefits of lots of inventory is clear, because you’re protected from transport disruption and suppliers that can’t manufacture because they can’t get workers into their factories.

For many, holding excessive inventory is simply bad business and companies are trying to refine their demand forecasting and make it more frequent, given that so many historical measures have gone out the window.

But advance visibility into customers’ needs has been difficult to stay on top of and the only solution is to shorten the supply chain, driven by faster production turnaround and efficient transportation.

Supply chain connectivity and visibility is critical in real-time control and insights. If you can see where your product is at all times you can manage demand and expectations. It is what Metro does and one of the fundamentals of our business model.

The silver lining for something like COVID-19 is the opportunity to take advantage and make a compelling business case to pursue ideas like digital solutions and supply chain visibility.

Metro’s multi award-winning MVT connects shippers to their entire supply chain, providing real-time visibility, milestone event management, control and intelligence, in a secure cloud based environment.

MVT streamlines global trading and ensures every aspect of the supply chain is transparent and measurable.

Please contact our Technical Solutions Director Simon George for further details on how we can assist your business in the future with bespoke digital solutions.