Yes, Supply Chains Are Still at Risk Post-COVID
Experts predict that life in America could return to ”near normal” this spring and summer, which leaves manufacturing customers and suppliers wondering if supply chains will follow suit.
We hate to be the bearers of bad news, but supply chain instability isn’t a new problem; it’s an old one. And it won’t suddenly resolve as the pandemic gradually transitions and COVID-19 becomes endemic.
Supply chains are as fragile as they have ever been, and our overstretched global model is particularly vulnerable to risk—even in a post-COVID world.
The Pandemic Isn’t the Only Threat to Global Supply Chains
Need proof that the pandemic isn’t the only threat to global supply chains? The issues we’ve encountered while working on a recent project serve as a sobering reminder of the world’s unpredictability.
We’re building over 500 AI-enabled camera systems for our customer. Per the technical requirements document, we selected specific components to meet their needs.
This project has moved along quickly, and we make it a practice to check the availability of each component shortly before placing an order. One component comes from a factory in Poland that suffered a cyberattack in early March. The attack was so severe that it impacted their systems worldwide, forcing them to operate using paper and pencil.
As a result, they can’t tell us the exact status of our order. People at the factory can verify that the order is in process, but we don’t know when it will be shipped and delivered.
If the factory were in the United States, we could send a team member there to talk to management and verify the status of the components. But because the factory is thousands of miles away, in a different time zone, and managed by people who speak a foreign language, our options are limited. The distance adds substantial friction to the customer experience.
What to Do When Faced with Outsourced Manufacturing Risks
Global supply chains are unpredictable, yet many companies rely on outsourced manufacturing. In the face of ongoing supply chain risks, it’s important to be prepared for the inevitable shortage, disruption, or crisis:
- Look for alternative sources. Finding an alternative source is one solution to consider, especially if your project hinges on your ability to procure a specific component, and that component isn’t readily available overseas. Use this opportunity to find a domestic source—the closer a distributor or vendor is to you, the easier it is to mitigate risk.
- Consider fundamental redesigns. If finding an alternative source isn’t feasible, you may have to resort to redesigning the product altogether to use a different component. Creative engineering solutions can help circumvent supply chain disruptions and may be the only option when specialized components can’t be sourced locally.
One final strategy is to partner with a reliable manufacturing services provider who can help you navigate supply chain uncertainty and begin the process of reshoring your manufacturing operations. Get in touch with Alchemy Industrial today to learn more.