Have Companies Made Progress Toward Supply Chain Resilience Since the Pandemic?

Have Companies Made Progress Toward Supply Chain Resilience Since the Pandemic?

Most readers agree supply chains have become more resilient since the pandemic. But some note caveats and potential pitfalls.

Yes. Since the pandemic, supply chains have undergone a shift from being perceived primarily as a cost center to an opportunity for competitive advantage. Organizations have built resilience by shifting to a more modern, digital supply chain and leveraging technology like artificial intelligence (AI) to support planning, procurement, and logistics.

–Nirav Patel

Nearshoring and ally shoring have improved supply chain resilience since the pandemic, with nearshoring reducing dependency on overseas suppliers and shortening lead times, while ally shoring fosters collaborative alliances for shared risk mitigation and agile responses to disruptions.

–Mark McCullough
Gebrüder Weiss North America

No. Companies built additional infrastructure during the pandemic for more capacity. Now they need capacity in different parts of the country for different things. They need to be more efficient and instead of building even more infrastructure, utilize that unused space to save on costs, transportation, and emissions.

–Bill Thayer
Founder & CEO

Critical supply chains in food, health, defense, and technology are being studied and reinforced. Companies are expanding data analysis, deepening industry coordination, and enhancing resilience through disruption wargaming. Numerous global private/public partnerships are also forming.

–Alberto Toribio del Pilar
Managing Director
ButcherJoseph & Co.

Companies have adapted their supply chains to be more resilient. By incorporating risk into the optimization of stock levels, increasing frequencies of reviewing and updating system parameters, and simplifying product portfolios, businesses can continue to adapt to disruptions.

–Chip Barth
Managing Director, Supply Chain
TBM Consulting Group, Inc.

Companies diversified their supply base, increased in-region sourcing, and revised their inventory policies. They still need to address the shortage of talent in supply chain management, especially in tech innovation and advanced planning systems.

–Shamini Martin
VP Marketing
Trigent Software

Companies were single-piecing and single-sourcing, which made for a fragile platform, prior to 2020. Companies are now looking to multi-piece and multi-source, and we are seeing the confluence of planning and execution capabilities that allow for inventory sourcing decisions to match order reality.

–Andy Dyer
President, Transportation Management
AFS Logistics

Companies emerged with a focus on helping keep the supply chain flexible and adaptable to sudden shocks. By supplementing labor with robotics, advanced technologies, and new labor sourcing strategies, the supply chain is more resilient to unexpected challenges.

–Jason Minghini
Senior Vice President, Operations

The industry has made leaps in supply chain resilience, notably through diversifying logistics networks and accelerating the adoption of digital technologies for better inventory management and demand forecasting.

–Dennis Moon

Companies are advancing supply chain resilience with automation and AI, creating enhancements and increasing productivity during periods of high demand that were otherwise manually unachievable. To mitigate long-term supply chain risks, businesses must consider other tactics like regionalization and workforce training alongside automation and robots.

–Annie Noel
Chief Operating Officer

Our clients have been more actively exploring resiliency. One method is scenario modeling, which helps companies explore the most efficient and cost-mitigating network structure by identifying where facilities should be, how many are needed, service level performance, functionality, advantages of shoring initiatives, ESG considerations, product mix, and inventory policies.

–J.C. Renshaw
Senior Supply Chain Consultant

COVID has gone from pandemic to endemic and the same has happened to supply chain disruptions; economic, geopolitical, cyber, and environmental disruptions dominate. Supply chains have become more resilient; however they have not recovered to their pre-pandemic performance with too many being bottom line—not resilience—focused.

–Matt Spooner
Industry Thought Leader

Companies have made significant strides through further diversification of suppliers and more supply/product redundancies. Businesses were also forced to reevaluate and strengthen their operations where vulnerabilities became readily apparent including asset controls and employee policies.

–Michael B. Wilson
Consolidated Chassis Management (CCM)

One, businesses realized they lacked real, accurate, timely information about their shipping operations—what they were spending, what was driving expenses, how costs were increasing each year. Two, many realized diversification of carriers was important to give them the redundancy they needed in case of delays. These moves have resulted in real progress and improved resiliency across the industry.

–Josh Dunham
Co-founder and CEO

Yes for some. Some companies have significantly leveled up their supply chain visibility so that they can react in real time with high accuracy. However, there’s still quite a few companies that need to invest in supply chain and inventory visibility to stay resilient.

–Sankalp Arora
CEO & Co-Founder
Gather AI

Companies moved toward vendor diversification, automation, nearshoring, creative staffing, and risk mitigation solutions. Many were able to test and improve contingency plans. Many will return to the old ways, but the overall industry will learn and evolve.

–Jim Heide

The supply chain bent but never broke during the pandemic, largely due to the incredible resilience of our transportation system, and due to the risk mitigation actions taken by logistics companies. There was never a day—ever—where we were not able to locate a truck to move a shipment.

–Anne Reinke
President & CEO
Transportation Intermediaries Association

Most companies are proactively identifying alternative products in case of supply issues like delays or manufacturing bottlenecks. It’s crucial to evaluate supply chain and inventory management activities and collaborate with suppliers to ease burdens, safeguard against supply disruptions, and mitigate future pain points.

–Dakonya Freis
VP, Commercial Development

Overall, I would give it a C-. There have been some signs of risk mitigation, reshoring, and increasing inventory levels, but collectively we are still suffering a hangover from COVID that will take more years to resolve. It will take time to undo 40+ years of rampant offshoring.

–Joe Adamski
Senior Director

Yes and no. Since 2020, many shippers have grown more resilient by reevaluating their ordering and inventory levels, diversifying vendor relationships, investing in nearshoring, and leveraging systems or partners that provide greater visibility into supply chains performance.

However, a softening transportation market over the past 12-15 months has provided a false sense of security for companies who have not taken the time to shore up their processes, and they may struggle to adapt when cheap and reliable capacity is less abundant in a tighter market.

–Ben Steffes
VP, Managed Services
Coyote Logistics

Yes. An increasing number of C-suite executives and board members are now requesting updates on resilience readiness, but this is only part of the equation. A truly resilient organization can prepare, respond, and learn from impacts of any size and scope—which happens when resilience is ingrained into everyday operations. It’s critical that companies quickly make the investment into an all-hazards, all-assets resilience program because the frequency of impacts is not slowing down.

–Frank Shultz
Founder and CEO
Infinite Blue

Yes. Progress in supply chain resiliency has been made post-pandemic, even while we continue to adapt to new global challenges. Shippers are implementing diversification strategies around sourcing markets, with real impacts being felt in Mexico and the Caribbean. We’ve also seen a strong focus on visibility, flexibility, and clear communication between shippers and suppliers.

–Jeff Vaughn
Chief Commercial Officer
Trailer Bridge

Yes. Many companies have introduced secondary suppliers to reduce risks from single sourcing. However, prioritizing product availability over massive assortments remains crucial, as seen during the pandemic. Excessive assortment is a major contributor to out-of-stocks. Lastly, collaboration between trading partners, including sharing accurate forecasts and promptly communicating potential shortages, is crucial for enhancing the overall resilience of supply chains.

–Jeff Bornino
President, North America
TMX Transform

Yes. Post COVID we have more positioning partners developing their spot equipment options. “One-way” leasing is one option to remain viable when trade lanes become out of balance. In part the reasoning for the industry’s investment in this solution stems from tough lessons learned during the pandemic—it’s a resilient minded idea!

–Richard Kohn
Director, Global Logistics & Optimization
SeaCube Containers

Yes. Since the pandemic, companies have enhanced supply chain resilience by prioritizing efficient planning and execution, leveraging data and technologies like AI. However, it still has leaps and bounds to go. Companies must commit to customer-focused innovation and strategic diversification to enable swift response times and prepare for unexpected business fluctuations.

–Fernando Correa
CEO and Co-founder

Looking at our small to medium sized customers in the ecommerce fulfillment space, we hear throughout that solid planning facilitated another amazing peak season around Black Friday/Cyber Monday and the holidays. Having data to drive the right fulfillment decisions gives shippers the ability to scale warehouse operations for extreme (10x and more) sales spikes when they occur.

–Johannes Panzer
Head of Industry Solutions, Ecommerce

Yes. Many now understand the direct link between supply chain resilience and everyday life, which is ultimately beneficial as it centers the attention on the most critical “asset” in the supply chain: the thousands of trucks, cranes, and forklifts operators who keep the supply chain running. Companies have understood that increasing safety and productivity through the right automation approaches is imperative to make those jobs, and eventually their business models, future-proof.

–Hendrik Kramer

Yes, companies have made progress toward supply chain resiliency by paying more attention to the data that monitors industry trends and the health of their supply chain network. Many companies have adopted efficiencies to better exploit their domain expertise, resulting in an overall competitive advantage and delivering a better experience to their customers.

–Eric Allais
President & CEO
PathGuide Technologies

Yes. One way I like to think about supply chain resilience is by dividing it into two factors: internal processes and external interventions. An easier way of putting this might be: operations improvement and risk mitigation. In general, supply chain companies saw the pandemic as a wake-up call that our approach to both needed to be tightened up considerably. One of the easiest legs-up is upgrading technology; good supportive tech allows you to improve your operations and risk exposure because data provides better visibility.

–Mike Ziomek
Chief Operations Officer
Odyssey Logistics

Yes. From a strict logistics perspective, most of the COVID capacity has greatly improved, including product lead times, transport times, and cost. But many customers are exploring alternatives for ingredients, packaging, chemicals, and PPE to have viable backup options. This has been a HUGE effort from customers and suppliers.

–Shawn Kitchner
VP of Operations and Logistics

Yes. Companies have made strides in enhancing supply chain resiliency post-pandemic. Many adopted technology for real-time monitoring, diversified suppliers, and embraced data analytics to predict disruptions. However, continuous improvement is vital, including further digitalization, collaboration, and risk mitigation strategies to address evolving challenges and uncertainties.

–George Maksimenko

Yes, progress has certainly been made. In the automotive industry, dealerships are leveraging new tech within their transportation management systems to gain visibility into their shipments and improve reaction times. This ensures sales continuity during times of disruption and provides insights to help them work more efficiently.

–Mike Trudeau
Executive Vice President, Business Development
Montway Auto Transport

Progress has been made, but more remains to be done. An uptick in cloud adoption is enabling greater flexibility in working locations and hours, and better visibility for all stakeholders. But, we still see too many underinsured shippers and logistics service providers. With new threats emerging, it’s wise to review coverage regularly.

–Heider Santander
Magaya Insurance Services

Yes. Following the pandemic, we’ve seen incredible interest in solutions that provide resiliency in supply chains around the globe. Automating how inventory is tracked with technologies such as Bluetooth and cellular gives greater transparency, creates information redundancy, provides accountability to customers, and reduces human error.

–Brian Krejcarek
Co-founder and CEO

More retail businesses are recognizing improved resiliency hinges on supply chain digitalization. They’re moving beyond outdated, mostly manual processes and more widely adopting multi-enterprise platforms.

–Lilian Bories
Chief Marketing Officer

Yes. Companies now tangibly appreciate its value and have begun leveraging the plethora of digital tools available to navigate potential disruptions. However, they still need to be aggressive with their digital roadmap, strategizing how to best evolve in the long term in what is a rapidly evolving landscape.

–Omer Abdullah
The Smart Cube

Yes, but there’s still much to achieve. The pandemic prompted organizations to reassess and evolve strategies to enhance resilience, for example shifting from “just-in-time” to “just-in-case” approaches. Technology plays a pivotal role; companies must build a technology roadmap including AI/ML, digital twins, and scenarios, to foster greater supply chain adaptability and resiliency.

–Alex Pradhan
Global Product Strategy Leader
John Galt Solutions