Disruption has become a daily occurrence in the “post pandemic” world, with drastic consequences for the supply chain.

For many, the first sign of serious fragility came with COVID-19. According to Accenture’s research, 94% of Fortune 100 companies saw disruption to their supply chain operations while 55% had to downgrade growth outlook as a result.

As devastating as it continues to be, the pandemic is not the only issue putting the global supply chain under extreme pressure.

From the blockage of the Suez Canal, lorry driver shortages, low water levels in the Rhine reducing barge carrying capacity (Germany is a major source of chemical supply for the water industry) through to the closure of chemical plants in China due to environmental concerns, the resiliency of the UK water industry’s supply chain is under threat.

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Despite the urgency of these challenges, utilities can take proactive steps to reduce the risk to the supply chain – many of which bring significant opportunities with them. Diversifying the supplier base without sacrificing ethical businesses with high HSE and social responsibility standards, greater collaboration and agility can all change the way the supply chain operates.

So, what steps can utilities executives take to embed resilience and transform their supply chain?

3 steps to a more resilient supply chain

Step 1: Sense

Visibility of the entire supply chain and the risk landscape is essential to avoiding or reducing the impact of unexpected challenges.

However, most organizations have limited visibility of what is happening beyond the limits of the direct relationships they have with Tier 1 suppliers.

Bringing internal and external data from across the entire value chain, from raw material or source to current inventory, is the first step in sensing major disruption that lies ahead.

Step 2: Analyse and predict

While it may not be able to predict disruption, it’s possible to predict its impact.

For example, the use of a supply chain stress test, a data-driven model of the supply chain network developed in partnership between Accenture and MIT, can help quantify an organization’s end-to-end supply chain and operations to absorb, adapt to and recover from a disruptive event.

Testing the supply chain allows you to identify potential points of failure, evaluate the efficiency of mitigation plans, and assess both the operational and financial impact of such events.

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Step 3: Act and adapt

An intelligent supply chain control tower can orchestrate actions throughout the supply chain to mitigate risk.

Using a cloud-enabled platform brings together different functions and ecosystem partners, giving them all access to the data and insight needed to resolve issues and coordinate responses in real time to deal with major disruption quickly.

Over time, the same capabilities can be evolved to a create a “supply chain digital twin”, which can be used to simulate changes in operating conditions and test responses.

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It’s time to act

Recent events have highlighted the devasting cost when global chain fails, and it’s critical for utilities to minimize and manage risks. Regulators expect it. Customers and employees demand it.

Digital solutions, such as a supply chain digital twin or control tower, can help monitor important factors in real time. Coupled with an open, collaborative approach to detecting and managing risks, it is possible to not only navigate the evolving threat landscape, but also to embrace new opportunities that a more resilient, agile, and effective supply chain enables.

Contact me to discuss the best way to make your supply chain more resilient.

Karly Wai

Senior Manager – Consulting, Utilities

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