Impact of COVID-19 on Global Supply Chains

Supply chain management heeding the learning of the crisis

Introduction by Adrian Lightstone, National Manager, Advisory Services, WSP in Canada

"COVID-19 is the Black Swan event we all learn about in risk and scenario planning. It’s an event none of us expected to occur and has had an enormous impact on the global freight industry. It’s exposed the vulnerabilities of many organizations, especially those who have a high dependence on international trade and global supply chains. The focus on supply chain optimization, inventory reduction, and maximizing asset utilization has left little ability to accommodate a Black Swan event like COVID-19.

In Canada we’ve seen major changes in consumer demand, labour shortages in critical sectors, as well as trade restrictions and protectionist measures introduced by our largest trading partners. This has had a major impact on our traditional supply chains. Many companies have been forced to pivot their business models as traditional retail channels have been weakened. This has created opportunities in how supply chains may operate in the future.

The pandemic has accelerated trends in supply chains such as e-commerce, automation, and reshoring manufacturing. To keep up with these trends it’s important for freight planners and policy makers to understand the extended supply network and improve supply chain visibility. Enhanced visibility will allow businesses to activate alternate sources of supply, understand new risks and costs and focus on supply chain resilience."

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