Supply Chain Disruptions Like Hurricane Sandy Are No Longer Outliers

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Hurricane Sandy caused upwards of $50 billion in damage, closed roads across the Northeast and triggered shortages of gasoline and groceries in parts of New York and New Jersey. Beyond that, the superstorm has snarled the supply chain for all kinds of goods just as retailers gear up for a holiday shopping season that for many determines success or failure. Asset management is suddenly paramount.

For businesses, the disaster threw into stark relief the importance of supply chain management systems with maximum transparency – from procurement to warehouse to transportation – that will enable the best chance of responding swiftly to the unexpected.

How snarled is the supply chain in the wake of Sandy? The New York Times cited economists who expect the storm to reduce fourth-quarter growth by half a percentage point – a huge chunk of the 1- to 2-percent growth expected before Sandy. Port closures and damage from the storm are expected to cause ripples throughout the holiday season.

Unfortunately, Sandy is no longer an outlier in terms of the supply chain disruption she caused. In a study conducted last year by the Business Continuity Institute, 85 percent of respondents had experienced at least one disruption, with weather being the main culprit. The odds for disruption are going up with the increase in megastorms worldwide and the growing complexity of international supply chains and E-procurement.

The study also found that nearly a third of respondents have no idea where disruptions occur because they don’t analyze the full supply chain. Half of respondents said the disruption led to lost productivity, and a third said they lost revenue.

Such losses can easily be mitigated – if not avoided entirely – through automated command and control of supply chains.

Effective supply chain management will take into account:

Inventory

Businesses need 360-degree visibility on factors such as stock quantity, location, shelf life and expiration. Complete awareness of all inventory locations across the business through RFID or other means. That will help you eliminate costly mistakes, such as ordering products for one location while another has plenty on hand.

Assets

Software can be used to accurately account for all assets across each facility, from procurement to retirement, with real-time data available anywhere you have access to a browser or mobile device. Systems are now available that provide visualization of not only where your assets have been but also where they are now and where they go next. They can be tracked by any category you want, even down to the employee who scanned them last.

Transportation

Your entire transportation process should be automated, including route planning and status notifications – right down to where a single package is located on a truck, plane or ship en route from Point A to Point B. Software applications combine the data with easily visualized maps, all viewable from any device with an internet connection. Analytics can provide you cost-per-shipment data that can be integrated with your invoice management.

Work Orders

Through automation, you can track all details pertaining to requested goods and services, from creating and assigning requests to prioritizing work orders. Software can help you ensure jobs are done efficiently and in the correct order according to need. It also allows you to enforce accountability and timely response and work quality.

Warehouse management

Warehouse management should be automated for full transparency with the click of a mouse – from receiving to put-away and inventory, all the way through to order fulfillment and shipping. Software can help you map the warehouse for maximum storage effectiveness and schedule enough workers to receive shipments, among many other capabilities.

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