Preventing Another Supply Chain Crisis
We have learned a lot from the COVID-19 outbreak. Supply chains specifically have taken some major blows due to the public’s panic and resulting behavior. Though an increase in demand would normally be embraced, these extreme jumps simply are not manageable and have given supply chain business owners much to consider in preparation for the future. Manufacturers of essential products such as toilet paper now know that they need a plan in place for the possibility that something like this or worse could happen again. In March, toilet paper machines ran at 99.7% capacity up from their normal 92%, according to Fastmarkets RISI. Amazon is months behind on orders and now has even temporarily stopped stocking some goods altogether because they can’t keep up. How can the supply chain prevent another crisis such as this? Keep reading for insight and solutions that will help you prepare.
PLANNING FOR SUPPLY CHAIN DISRUPTION
In order to adequately plan for supply chain disruption you first need to assess possible risks. COVID-19 would be considered an ‘extraordinary risk’ for commercial products, as it is in the category of epidemic or pandemic outbreaks. Though the risks in this category are mostly deemed unpredictable and uncontrollable, we can still learn from this experience. Strategies can be formed based on areas that struggled, processes that can be optimized, and recovery solutions. Some examples are:
- Flexible orientation and staffing.
- Quicker communication techniques for the sharing of information.
- Solutions for employee support.
- Increase in supply chain collaboration.
- Updated technology.
- Buying more machinery.
- Backup and alternative suppliers.
- Compensation policies for customer inconvenience.
A deeper factor to note as well when considering our resources and the possibility of running out is where these things really come from. Toilet paper comes from trees, and though we can ramp up production based on need, the forests that continue to be cut down to accommodate these needs are not unlimited. Additionally, the toilet paper that consumers buy from grocery stores is not as sustainable as what’s being purchased for businesses. Because more people are now working from home, the demand for home-brands (which are not as sustainable) has increased. Why are home brands not as sustainable? The toilet paper that is made for restaurants and bigger businesses is constructed to last longer and use less resources due to the large amounts they usually go through. This is accomplished by:
- Making larger rolls that are often single-ply.
- Using recycled materials.
- Having a lower standard for texture or thickness.
In order to make resources last longer, tissue makers will need to start constructing at-home toilet paper with the same sustainable ideals in mind. Furthermore, manufacturers need to be ready and willing to assess facts like these in reaction to pandemics and the like, so they can adjust accordingly and prevent further damage from occurring.
The most effective way to plan for the future is to be ready for the worst case scenario and to prepare as needed. Too often managers and business owners will wait for the catastrophe to occur. How has your supply chain taken a hit and how can you make sure that the impact isn’t so great next time? Make sure you’re adequately staffed, and that your options are flexible. Many supply chains are now adhering to temporary staffing solutions to increase this flexibility. Partnering with a staffing agency makes staffing malleable to your needs because:
- You have a dependable resource for finding you strong temporary workers.
- Temporary employees are not depending on you for continued work if sales drop off.
- If you have a large increase in demand, you can hire more people quickly.