A chain is only as strong as its weakest link is how the saying goes. When it comes to industrial supply chains, weakness is everywhere. COVID catalyzed disruption across the entire global supply chain. Prices and lead times are more erratic than ever, and supply chain teams do not have the proper tools to effectively navigate these waters.
The collapse of a broken system
Older industries, such as sub-verticals of the industrials space, have historically been slow to adopt technology. The apprehension makes sense given the negative stigma around technology. Driven by a lack of emphasis on securing secondary and tertiary suppliers, Buyers find themselves in a difficult predicament. Not only can they not get what they need from their primary suppliers, they are unable to rapidly identify new suppliers. Supply chain relationships have historically been institutional knowledge held by a select few, never written down nor recorded to be passed on to the next generation. "Oh, I know someone at that distributor. We worked together 20 years ago. I'll give him a call." Sound familiar?
What if you have not been in a particular industry for very long? You are new on the job and are dropped into an already disrupted supply chain? Senior buyers have left, been furloughed, or laid off. Lack of historical supplier records and minimum investment from suppliers into their online presence is making finding new and alternative qualified suppliers extremely arduous. A recent survey conducted by Parq indicated Buyers are spending days and weeks searching online to find new suppliers. When they think they have identified a potential source, they call and leave a message on the offices' main number. However, due to work-from-home measures, there is a low likelihood their call will ever be returned.
Here Comes the Sun
"Here comes the sun, doo da doo." You are probably wondering what the Beatles classic hit, "Here Comes the Sun", has to do with supply chain. This song indicated a brighter future ahead. And that is exactly what we believe is in store for industrial supply chains. Older generations are becoming more open to leveraging technology to find and interact with new vendors. Younger generations are vital in this technology adoption phase. Having grown up with the internet, their savvy ability to identify useful tools for their teams is becoming more vital within organizations.
Albeit currently disrupted, now is the time to bolster supply chains, look to alternative sourcing methods, leverage new technology and prepare for a brighter future. Now is the time for management teams to provide their teams the necessary tools and resources to effectively build a long-standing organization. As one fabrication CEO recently put it, "We rely on our suppliers. Without them, we would not have a business."