Responding to Supply Chain Challenges in 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major rifts in international supply chains, and Canadian manufacturers across all industries continue to feel the impact of delayed or canceled resource shipments even today. As the global trade economy continues to recover from the pandemic’s challenges, now is an excellent time for manufacturers to understand their role in supply chains, and take action to defend against future obstacles.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused major rifts in international supply chains, and Canadian manufacturers across all industries continue to feel the impact of delayed or canceled resource shipments even today. As the global trade economy continues to recover from the pandemic’s challenges, now is an excellent time for manufacturers to understand their role in supply chains, and take action to defend against future obstacles. During a recent EMC virtual session, manufacturing consultant and supply chain expert Kim Wolf identified that the two major catalysts for success in supply chain management are planning and communication, both of which require active engagement from manufacturers and their partner organizations. It is important for manufacturing leaders to realize that they are not simply passive participants in their supply chains, and that their activities (or lack thereof) can heavily influence their ability to receive materials and perform their duties in a timely, productive manner.
One of the values most strongly espoused by Wolf during that recent Consortium gathering was the importance of establishing effective Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Having a defined course of action for acquiring, managing, and utilizing resources throughout the supply chain is essential for manufacturers to operate successfully. Wolf heavily recommended the use of common business planning tools like SWOT Analyses and Risk Assessments when considering supply chain management — these tools help business leaders build detailed strategies that can mitigate vulnerabilities and reduce the possibility of risk. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturers had the luxury of flexibility in their activities thanks to steady influxes of the materials used to create their products. Unfortunately, this flexibility is no longer available in the current manufacturing landscape, and leaders in this space must adapt their operations to place focus on consistent, timely output, or face losing business to an exceptionally-competitive marketplace. Having a plan to collect and employ operating resources ensures that manufacturers always have the information they need to make informed decisions, and prevents mistakes caused by ambiguity.
Communication is another vital element of success when dealing with supply chains, especially when leaders are responsible for decentralized workforces. Manufacturers should maintain strong lines of correspondence within their organizations — their employees, supervisors, and managers — and with their suppliers to ensure that resource orders are being fulfilled and applied properly. The value of sustained communication across the supply chain cannot be overstated: it fortifies the bonds between manufacturers and their partnered organizations, it facilitates an active, engaged labour base, and it allows for problems and inaccuracies to be identified and addressed throughout the entirety of a business’s activities. Collaboration is another important element of healthy supply chain management. By working closely with the organizations whose materials they rely upon, manufacturers establish a heightened level of contextual awareness between all parties, allowing potential issues or opportunities to be recognized and acted on in advance. Suppliers that identify the efforts being put forward by their customers to involve them in important decisions will understand the significance of their professional relationships, and will put similar effort towards keeping those connections stable.
The past two years have shown Canada’s manufacturing sector that effective supply chain management is crucial to success and, in many cases, survival. By employing thorough planning strategies and multi-channel communication activities, manufacturers are able to protect their existing supply chains, foster supply increases, and, ultimately, remain consistently productive, regardless of the challenges they may face.
For more on strengthening your organization’s supply chain management skills, contact Jason Bates, EMC’s Manufacturing Consortium Manager for Southwestern Ontario. Attend EMC events frequently for knowledge and expertise supporting the Canadian manufacturing sector.