Natural disasters, such as the 2011 Japanese tsunami, are among the top three areas most feared by risk managers © Satoshi Takahashi/LightRocket via Getty Images
Natural disasters, such as the 2011 Japanese tsunami, are among the top three areas most feared by risk managers © Satoshi Takahashi/LightRocket via Getty Images

Less than half of firms have acted to build supply chain resilience

Will Green is news editor of Supply Management
4 August 2020

Almost all firms believe measures must be taken to avoid future supply disruptions following Covid-19 but almost half have taken no action to build supply chain resilience over the past 10 years, according to research.

In a report manufacturing network 3D Hubs said almost three quarters of survey respondents had experienced supply chain disruptions in the last decade, with Covid-19 being the biggest.

But while 96% believed measures were needed to avoid future disruptions, a “surprising” 48% of companies had taken none.

“As we’ve seen with the simultaneously rising complexity of supply chains and the increasing number of disruptions, a clear strategy for building supply chain resilience to mitigate future disruptions will be essential for businesses moving forward,” said the report.

The survey, conducted in June 2020 with 1,281 respondents, found natural disasters, geopolitical issues and cyber security were the three areas risk managers feared most. However, just 9% of companies had actually experienced a cyber attack in the past 10 years.

The severest disruption over the period was pandemics, with 59% of businesses affected, “presumably most extremely by the recent novel coronavirus”, said the report. Next came natural disasters (29%) and trade wars (21%).

“Brexit is another disruptive event that will have global implications. The situation is still developing, so companies inside and outside the UK are unable to plan for any form of an international trading environment,” said the report.

“Political events such as Brexit highlight the vulnerability of relying on only a few key suppliers in critical locations.”

Firms can build more resilience by:

1. Creating automony, through measures such as automation and increased inventory;

2. Developing flexibility, including geographical diversification and agile working processes; and

3. Increasing visibility, with stronger supplier relationships and increased monitoring.

The report said: “The simultaneous increasing vulnerability in supply chains and the growing number of disruptions means businesses must start making their supply chains more resilient now.”

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