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Continuous supply chain risk management is now more vital than ever

Preventing disruption within supply chains is important for all businesses. This is only possible when all risks are assessed, understood and therefore effectively mitigated. In previous years, significant supply chain threats looked like IT glitches, demand risks, and supplier shortages.

The varying degree by which supply chains were affected by these risks used to be simply determined by the best of the protective measures which a business would put in place to counteract such consequences.

Unpredictable modern supply chain risks, however, pose much more detrimental threats to businesses overall. The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic is one perfect example. Whereby former supply chain disruptions could be recovered easily, or even prevented due to accurate calculations and detailed predictions, every day more dangerous and globalised risks are developing which businesses cannot always foresee, or salvage. It is the interference of these unknown risks which cause the most damage.

As a result of the pandemic, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Business Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Survey, show that in the UK across all industries 10% of businesses have paused trading and do not intend to restart in the next two weeks, with 3% of businesses ceasing to trade, permanently.

Further statistics from the Interos COVID Resilience Report, showed that in the USA, 98% of the 450-senior decision-makers surveyed, stated their organisation’s supply chain had been disrupted. With the pandemic having significantly more far-reaching global implications than first thought, continuous supply chain risk management is vital to effectively protect your business.

There are multiple factors to consider

Most recently, fresh reports of supply chain disruption have arisen surrounding Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, who experienced problems after moving to a new automated warehouse in September resulting in the delayed dispatch of vital products.

As one of the main suppliers of diagnostic tests to Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) Test and Trace programme, Roche’s system failure threatens not only COVID19 results but also affects diabetes tests, magnesium level tests and results for other serious diseases including cancer and heart disease.

The wider impacts of supply chain disruption throughout the pandemic, however, go deeper still. The NHS test and trace app provides users with contact tracing, local area alerts and venue check-in, and sends alerts if you have been in close proximity to those infected with the virus. Sadly, the Test and Trace programme has also been reportedly impacted by technical issues resulting in the delayed reporting of 15,000 positive results, in recent days.

Proactive versus reactive

Roche is one of the main suppliers of diagnostic testing equipment and materials in the UK, and although the NDC in question is based in West Sussex, this is Roche's only facility and covers the whole of the UK.

Delays for test results and lost confidential data are the harsh and unacceptable consequences of these latest supply chain disruptions. While the effects of these errors cannot be reversed, this is a vital lesson to all which should serve to educate the industry to be better prepared for unprecedented occurrences which could prove detrimental to optimal supply chain function.

It is also a vital message to ensure that upgrades from old warehouses to newer automated facilities, incorporate the continued prioritisation and management of orders as well as effectively controlling the increase in capacity, from one facility to the next.

Lessons to learn

The Coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented learning curve for the UK, and it is now more vital than ever to not just resolve any current supply chains errors but to, more importantly, have continuity plans in place to mitigate the effects of any disruption as quickly and effectively as possible. Especially when the cost of such errors could threaten disastrous consequences for the lives of others.

Find out more about how SCN can help to future-proof your business plans and warehouse design. Email: Or call: 01423 815 941

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