28 February 2002 | Robin Parker
Firms are not equipped to manage the risks that hit their supply chain in national and global crises, according to a new study.
Supply Chain Vulnerability, a study paper from Cranfield University, claims that businesses have a lack of understanding of the true nature of modern supply chains and their weaknesses.
It says the issue came sharply into focus as supply chains took a series of hits from the fuel crisis two years ago, the foot and mouth crisis and 11 September.
Cranfield is developing a toolkit to equip supply chain managers with the knowledge and techniques to assess the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to supply chains, and to categorise suppliers' risks.
Richard Wilding, a logistics and supply chain lecturer at Cranfield who oversaw the report, said close scrutiny of the risks in complex supply chains was vital.
"Businesses have begun restructuring their supply chains in ways that might give them efficiency benefits, but also makes them more vulnerable, such as increased globalisation and single-site relocation.
"After a time of reasonable stability, we've found a global change in the dynamics of supply and demand and we need to reassess how we manage that."
Wilding said that the proposed toolkit was intended to clear any confusion over appropriate strategies for organisations coping in difficult economic periods.
• Cranfield University will be hosting a conference on supply chain vulnerability on 25 April. For further information, call 01234 751122.