Product suppliers in the personal protective equipment industry have been met with an extraordinary challenge over the past two years. It has led to the realization that the systems so much of the industry is based on are not dependable. It is of paramount importance for companies to establish robust supply chain management to respond to situations such as these when they arise and turn what could be a tremendous challenge into an opportunity for business growth.
“Most supply chains are the backbone of the industries they serve,” says Patrick Callaway, CEO of Octofound Group. “Therefore, they require extra attention to detail and management to ensure the integrity of the supply chain isn’t compromised.” Businesses must consider these factors when making initial decisions regarding their business.
This unprecedented global situation has shown the vulnerabilities of the traditional supply chain management processes. When there is an unexpected surge in demand, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the US supply chain for PPE was unable to compensate for many reasons. The old-fashioned way of relying on a single supplier (particularly an international one) is dangerous in this day and age where everything is so volatile.
“Once we establish the notion that supply chains are all about future aspects, it is easier to understand why the pandemic has caused so many disruptions in supply chains,” says Jacob Grand, COO of Octofund Group. “It isn’t easy to predict a pandemic, even more so how long a pandemic may last or the negative outcomes it brings on certain industries. Therefore, being more aware will definitely allow you to be more prepared and maintain a more reliable supply chain.”
The benefits of having a reliable supply chain management system are obvious and quantifiable. In a basic sense, having strong supply chain management ensures that the production rate can keep up with demand. However, this also has further implications on the operations of businesses. Consistent supply chain management allows companies to set more explicit expectations regarding the pricing of their products because the company understands their own needs and what they have to provide.
Additionally, an established supply chain management system substantially impacts a company’s ability to address supply needs. Linear supply chains do not often have the flexibility for a company to react to critical supply needs in emergencies should they arise. By having a complex, established network of supply chains, companies can understand how their company can fulfill the needs of their customers.
“Considering supply chains often are predicting what’s to come in a future sense it’s important to not limit your supply chain to #1, meaning if you have in your supply chain only one courier service you may face disruptions the moment that courier can’t provide the service you’re looking for,” says Callaway. He emphasizes, “Having unreliable links could leave you with just bits of links scattered all over. Never be limited to #1. This will provide more flexibility and allow you to foresee which links are under stress and give you the opportunity to correct them in time before the whole chain experiences the disruption.”
Supply chain management is a fundamental part of running any successful product supplier. Without a strong system in place, companies run the risk of not being able to keep up consistent output, especially if unexpected events arise. Being proactive and prepared will ensure that a product supplier will be able to thrive no matter what circumstances in which they may find themselves.