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Execs offer tips on how to overcome more supply chain disruptions in 2022

1/11/2022

Will there be more supply chain issues in 2022? Most likely, executives warn.

From incredibly long wait times truckers were forced to endure at the ports to drivers calling out sick due to COVID-19 restrictions, supply chain frustrations and cancelations ruled the day throughout the majority of 2021. With dozens of ships stuck in neutral, weeks away from unloading at an available dock, millions of truckers had to rearrange their schedules to accommodate the port situations handicapping their freedom of movement.

With 2021 finally in the rearview mirror, what's on the horizon for the supply chain in 2022? Will it be more of the same snags and snafus, or is there a potential breakthrough to look forward to?  A number of industry experts believe the former is more likely, and are offering the following words of advice to businesses that rely on truckers to make money.

Give just-in-time a timeout
Designed to increase efficiency and diminish expenses, just-in-time inventory has long been considered a best practice by retailers as well as manufacturers. But with supply chains being highly congested, it's best to stock up on inventory wherever possible.

"Businesses should forecast early and often," Sean Henry, co-founder of the logistics firm Stord, told Modern Shipper. "In the past, many brands relied on 'just-in-time' delivery, but that just doesn't work when supply chains are strained. Brands should invest in growing their inventory levels to ensure they have products in stock for their customers, and they should be strategic with their marketing strategy, promoting items that are in stock and easier to restock."

Part of the problem has to do with shipping containers taking not days, but weeks to unload. At the Port of Los Angeles, for example, the average wait time is over three weeks (21.8 days), based on a 30-day rolling average of the most recent statistics available .

Thus, while some items, parts and components truly are in short supply, others are simply taking more time to reach their destination, a frustration shared by the truckers who are tasked with delivery.

Invest in technology
What's helping businesses be more strategic and forward-looking is technology. Through enterprise resource management software and other digital solutions, organizations are gaining more visibility into their operations. Dave Brunswick, vice president for the commerce integration platform firm Cleo, said brands should prioritize digital transformation. Many businesses have already done so.

"A surprising number of companies across all of the players in supply chain are taking this as an opportunity to re-engineer their IT landscapes and prepare for the next supply chain upset and the next era of digital transformation," Brunswick told Modern Shipper.

He added the digital transformation has been evidenced by more organizations migrating to the cloud and adopting hybrid cloud strategies.

Consider onshoring or nearshoring 
From hot tubs to pickup trucks, production of any deliverable is rarely done in one place. It frequently requires international resources, making for a very large supply chain. Ronen Samuel of Kornit Digital suggests shortening them by onshoring or nearshoring. Since disruption is poised to be the rule rather than the exception for the foreseeable future, "the best way to prepare your business … is to shorten the length of your supply chains by removing links and producing locally."

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