Supply chain resilience the most critical it’s ever been in months ahead


With the UK government having set out its plans for dealing with Covid in England over the coming months, the UK head of data driven supply chain company C.H. Robinson, has urged UK plc to build as much resilience as possible into their supply chains to sustain their businesses and lower the risk of shortages of goods on the market in the run up to Christmas.

In recent months the combination of the impact of the pandemic, ongoing issues with Brexit and driver shortages have led to significant supply chain disruption. As a result, consumer brands, retailers, fast food outlets and the brewery sector are amongst those industries that have warned of stock availability challenges, shop closures and price hikes. In particular, there have been reported shortages in building materials, furniture, car parts and electrical goods.

Chris Mills, director of account management at C.H. Robinson, said: “Supply chain resilience is always key but arguably it has never been so crucial for business sustainability. We’re about to enter a critical phase of the pandemic and a perfect storm is forming with the ongoing and interrelated challenges of driver shortages, Brexit and Covid-19 alongside the significant spike in demand for goods during the festive period.”

Mills’ call comes on the back of recent customer research conducted by C.H. Robinson that reveals that shippers believe increased supply chain resilience will be one of the top three factors for their success throughout the remainder of 2021. In addition, Business Continuity Institute’s Supply Chain Resilience 2021 report highlights that 83% of professionals involved in continuity, risk and resilience report that management commitment to supply chain risk is now medium to high. The same report also found that more than half of organisations are now using technology to analyse and report on supply chain disruptions.”

Mills added: “Companies can no longer rely on historical data to predict demand and therefore supply. The current challenges highlight more than ever the need for investment in AI technologies that enable real time data insights throughout the shipping lifecycle of products, thereby taking supply chain visibility and resilience to new levels and enabling the ability to predict the unpredictable. Supply chain directors also need to keep an open mind about modes of transport, and the combination of different modes, as supply chain capacity is squeezed even more this Christmas.”

Mills highlighted the formation of the company’s alliance with the Microsoft Corporation, announced last year, as an example of how technology-led continuous innovation will be at the heart of future supply chain responses to major disruptive events such as Covid-19 as well as the current trading environment that the UK faces. The alliance involved integration of C.H. Robinson’s Navisphere multi-modal transportation management platform and the multinational technology company’s Azure cloud platform and Internet of Thing. In doing so it supports the need for enhanced real time insights and visibility for heightened resilience by incorporating machine learning and artificial intelligence to support predictive analytics, IOT device monitoring for greater intelligence on products whilst in transit, premier data security and increased application speed. According to Mills, the development has proved a significant success in responding to customers’ increasingly challenging supply chain requirements during the disruption of the last year.