Supply Chain Challenges in the New Normal

In this article, we look at the challenges supply chains have been facing in recent months due to the coronavirus. One of the main challenges is supply chain resilience and how in many industries, supply chains have come under significant pressure to meet customer demands. Businesses are looking at what they can do to ensure resilience and survival. Intelligent business management software is the answer. Read on to find out how intelligent software can enhance supply chain resilience.

With the world entering a sort of standstill in mid-March as a way to try and contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the first question everyone had top of mind was: “When will we be able to go back to normal?”

After a few months of different levels of lockdown and regulations in every country and continent, experts around the world have cautioned against setting a specific deadline for when we will be able to live and operate as freely as we did up until this year and have instead asked us to reshape our mindset towards creating a more accessible reality – a new take on normal – for the time being.

Though most of us (who could) were home, the world by no means stopped. In the past few months, we were able to continue securing our sustenance from markets, curbside pick-ups, or at-home deliveries. Food and beverages kept making their ways to our tables, with industry brands doing everything in their power to overcome item shortages related to the jump in demand as people stored more food to reduce their trips to the grocery store. How was this made possible? Three main factors: the essential workers who are at different levels of the supply chain, the businesses which instilled rules to ensure all people could get their basic needs covered, and the technology that allowed for nimble and agile changes to the operations.


Codeword: supply chain resilience


A lesson learned right out of the park as the reality of the global crisis set in was the very real necessity of a resilient supply chain. Resilience is defined as the “ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change,” and this was without a doubt the biggest change ever posed to the global economy in its modern iteration. For some industries like retail, automotive, and other product-based sectors, the supply chains hit a lull or stopped altogether. For food and beverage, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals, it was the complete opposite. Let’s focus for a moment on some of the challenges faced by the food and beverage industry throughout the past four months:


  • Supply versus demand: as governments were instructing citizens worldwide to stay home as much as possible and only make necessary trips when absolutely paramount, people began doubling or tripling their usual shopping cartloads to store food at home and cut their supermarket trips down as much as possible. This led to an immediate shortage of available products, and many brands had to kick their production lines into high gear to meet the demand.


  • Safety: with an increased workload also comes a demand for additional workers. In any other instance, this would be an easy fix – just hire more staff and do temporary overtime extensions. During the crisis though, workers’ safety was at risk and this meant there needed to be new strict protocols adopted in parallel to the overhaul in operations. This included the adoption or increase of personal protective equipment (PPE), additional sanitation stations and procedures, adequation of factories or plants (screens separating workers, one-way traffic aisles, etc.), new testing protocols, temperature checks, training for facility employees, etc. This was an incredibly demanding task and one that had to happen as they went.


  • Issues: despite all the care and procedural changes, it was practically impossible for there not to be certain issues along the way. Food plants (particularly in the meat sector) had a high incidence of contagion among workers due to them working in such close proximity. This led to shutdowns of some plants, product shortages, price increases, and general unrest among buyers.


The new normal for food & beverage and beyond


Speaking of meat, there’s more to the conversation. Because of the shortages, price increases, and the ever-growing beyond meat movement (due to meat production’s link to high greenhouse gas emissions), it’s expected that both meat prices and consumption will plummet in the second half of 2020. For meat suppliers, this time has been tricky to navigate as they have already had to adjust their supply chains once restaurants closed down, which meant many of them had to pivot their B2B operations into B2C eCommerce models. Now, they have to look at the market and prepare for what is to come as far as public demand in uncharacteristic times, while social movements take centre stage.

Though meat is not the only sector going through this predicament, there is one clear solution that can help them (and all other industries in similar dilemmas) in figuring out their next steps: intelligent business management software. Now more than ever, actionable insights are needed at every junction of the business (particularly those with product supply chains) to understand consumer behaviour and anticipate the trends before it’s too late. Businesses need intelligent forecasting and accurate planning tools to help them thrive in this new normal, and we’ve got them. Don’t get left behind as the world gets back on its feet, and reach out to our team for information on how you can become an intelligent enterprise to face the supply chain and operational challenges that will all be part of the new business-standard.


From Aaron Lozano, Sapphire Systems.