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The COVID pandemic and the just-in-time inventory system have tested the global supply chain and every industry has felt the effects. Early scenes of empty shelves, shopping carts running over with toilet paper and distraught customers point to the panic buying that precipitated many of the COVID-19 product shortages. A video which was particularly telling showed a stressed young mother who was unable to find diapers for her baby. Her phone’s camera panned the ransacked store shelves, as she lamented that the only available diapers were in large multi-pack boxes…which she could not afford.

Product availability is still an issue in many industries, often a result of the COVID vaccine distribution effort. A distillery owner in Michigan, for instance, must now wait four months for glass bottles. Why? His usual supplier has been tapped to produce vaccine vials.

The good news is that supply chain leaders have identified key components which will significantly impact the recovery. Greater visibility and better data have been cited as the requirements to create a supply chain that is better than before. Rob Harrison, Managing Director for SAP Concur in the UK, believes, “If you don’t have full visibility into data, it will provide little insight into which decisions to make. Technology is the only way to have visibility into assets across extended supply networks,”

The management at Harrods learned during the pandemic that they would need to embrace data, and share it with their partners, to have end-to-end visibility. GE Appliances identified the importance of “using real-time information to make decisions, to have the right movement” at each segment of the supply chain.

While, thankfully, the supply chain did not fail completely, major deficiencies were uncovered which will require time and a new way of thinking if we are to see significant improvement. DeltaTrak’s “Fresh Plaza” article on supply chain lessons from 2020 sheds even more light on how to go from inefficient ways of moving things around the globe, to a new supply chain. https://www.freshplaza.com/article/9322475/what-are-the-supply-chain-lessons-learned-from-2020/. For answers to your cold chain management questions contact your dedicated DeltaTrak account manager or call 800-962-6776.

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