The Supply Chain Can’t Stop: Mitigating Customer Stockouts (and Not Just of Toilet Paper)

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Restaurants are giving away toilet paper with to-go orders — even the coveted two-ply. Handsanitizer has become a black market item. Empty shelves are a familiar sight and it’s tempting to go to the grocery store as a way to gauge if we’re recovering from the severe demand and supply shock caused by COVID-19. This is our new normal.

As much as we consumers have felt the pain of “out of stock”, our hospitals and first responders (like nurses, as highlighted by Linkedin), have felt it even more intensely given the shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment).

Supply chain heroes everywhere are working around the clock to keep goods flowing. But these stock outs of finished goods are just the tip of the iceberg given the myriad of issues that could have had an impact at every point of the process to get gloves or masks to a hospital.

  • Shortage of employees: work from home doesn’t work in the manufacturing industry. So when people’s movement is restricted, they simply don’t make as many things. This is especially true in critical industries such as Food and Beverage, Healthcare, and Medical equipment.
  • Shortage of protective gear or equipment: Even if you have enough employees, you may quickly run out of basic necessities like hand sanitizer, uniforms or cleanroom gear
  • Shortage of logistics providers: ports in China have been closed for a while and more port locations are being impacted every day… there aren’t enough ships to make up for the mounting closures so even if you’ve managed to make things, they can’t be shipped
  • Shortage of materials from suppliers: many raw material suppliers have shut down — the impact could be felt for the next year. And those that are still running are dealing with their own set of shortages of employees, protective gear and logistics

And on and on, which makes the mission of supply chain professionals no easy feat, especially under the circumstances of today while much of the workforce is operating from their homes. Technology like Slack or Microsoft Teams for collaboration have practically become household names. And then of course there are the old standbys of email, spreadsheets and phone calls that the supply chain has always relied heavily on. This can all get unruly, fast.

There’s no systematic capture of priorities, status, or actions — no single source of truth that drives clear accountability at a time when supply chain teams need to be able to move quickly and with confidence.

This is where a virtual “war room” can be a huge asset to help supply chain teams manage more effectively through the COVID-19 disruptions. Watch the 3-minute video for a quick preview of how to handle a potential stock out scenario for an order from a key customer by re-allocating inventory from another location.

 

Elementum is a cloud platform that was designed to help global organizations easily collaborate to track, manage and resolve supply chain exceptions. And in this time of global crisis we’re inviting supply chain organizations to use Elementum Essentials at no cost for the rest of this year. Our customer success team stands ready to set up a virtual war room for any organization that needs the extra help. It takes less than an hour to do so, does not impact your IT team, and we promise to have you up and running within 24 hours. Because #SupplyChainCantStop.

To those unsung supply chain heroes out there, a heartfelt THANK YOU. We are here for you — ready to help.

Nader Mikhail
Founder and CEO | Elementum

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