Has Covid-19 Pandemic Accelerated the Digital Supply Chain?
The industries followed a traditional supply method in the pre-Covid-19 atmosphere. The rules changed with the onset of coronavirus as this led to the shutdown of many industries and manufacturing plants. However, embracing a digital supply chain can change the game for industries, corporates, manufacturing plants, and SMEs.
Apocalypse seems cool only in movies and T.V series but facing it in real life is 10 times tougher than the virtual world. The Covid-19 pandemic is nothing less than an apocalypse that has wrecked the economy, lives of the ordinary people, and the nature itself. Nobody intends to go back to the dark ages where people used to struggle daily for a penny and a slice of bread. Industrialization that began in Europe, Britain to be specific, has played a role in shaping millions of lives till date. How can we just let it slip out of our hands due to an unexpected tragedy?
Humans have prevailed in the past and survived the bubonic plague, Spanish flue, and the 2008 recession as well. The industries and manufacturing units kept on functioning by changing their course of action via technological advancements. Covid-19 outbreak will not only change the present scenario of how industries function but also set a course for a long voyage ahead.
The Traditional Supply Chain of Industries in the Pre-Covid-19 World:
The situation can be elucidated by a simple example of a publishing house. Before the book reaches the customers, there is a chain of supply that one might be nescient about. First of all, collecting raw materials is essential as this forms a base of the manufacturing line. For the production house, the raw materials could be pulp, paper, and stationary items.
Next, the manufacturing companies acquire the raw materials from the people who sell them. In case of pulp, it could be the workers involved in extracting pulp from trees. Raw materials can also be secondary goods such as paper that is made from pulp. The publishing houses can directly approach the wholesalers for cartons full of papers.
The third step is the actual manufacturing process where all the acquired pieces of raw materials are assembled and joined to create something meaningful. These products can be secondary or the final finished goods, as it depends on the usage of product. For example, a book is a final product for the publishing house, whereas paper is a secondary good for them that can be further processed.
The important job is distributing the items, advertising them, and boosting the market growth of the product. The final product doesn’t land on the lap of the customers directly; they are sold to the middlemen and they dispense the goods to the customers.
The final part is consumption by the end-user; the customers will buy books from the retailers and assure money flow. This process of traditional supply chain keeps on repeating day in and day out.
What is the Nature of Supply Chain in the Covid-19 Pandemic?
Coronavirus outbreak acted like a welcoming shock for all those industries, manufacturing plants, SMEs, corporates, and businesses that are delaying digitization process. Adapting to digital means will not only enhance efficiency but also resilience of the industries. The Covid-19 crises lead to a decline in cash flow, liquidity issues, bankruptcy, disturbed logistics sector, and transportation disruptions. All of these problems can be tackled by incorporating certain digital supply methods that can steer the helm of industries towards brighter future.
The most basic technology that can boost the digital supply chain is the cloud services that comprises of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. The cloud technology offers services via internet; thus people can work from anywhere. This is the only platform that has an infinite space for data storage, an auto up gradation system, pay-for-what-you-use service, and is cost effective. Cloud service can be an ideal start for all the industries that have not yet adapted to digital technology.
The manufacturing plants can opt for IoT (Internet of Things) as they contain sensors that generate data. This data points out defects, repairs, and gives a comprehensive insight about the entire manufacturing unit. This enables the person in charge to take timely decisions for a seamless manufacturing process.
Apart from this, adoption of blockchain technology in sectors like mining, solar energy, aviation industry, and food and beverage can also turn things around for the supply chain process. Blockchain regulates the product from the initial stages of manufacturing which can improve the product quality.
Furthermore, use of artificial intelligence in robotics enables the robots to take decisions based on perceptions. Apart from this, the transportation can be managed by incorporating sensors for tracking product delivery; thus averting misplacements and loss of goods. All these faucets make the digital supply chain a success for the industries.
Some other kinds of technology that can amplify the digital supply chain amidst the Covid-19 pandemic is big data analysis, distributed temperature sensing devices, content marketing for advertising products, contactless payment methods, and flexible smart manufacturing process.
What is the Future of Digital Supply Chain in the Post-Covid-19 Period?
Let’s consider the example of creating smartphones for understanding this concept better. The largest raw material supplier for smartphone till date is China. Every nation acquires the raw materials from China and compiles it in their native country. The final product is later on exported to African or south-east nations that have a strong inclination towards the smartphones. On the other hand, the product can also be imported from any nation that guarantees quality.
Global networking has enhanced the interdependency of all countries on one another in terms of raw materials, manufacturing process, and acquiring final products. If one of the countries is progressing digitally while the other is lagging behind, then this can be a serious threat to the digital supply chain in the future. The vision of industries in the post-Covid-19 scenario should be to create a balance in the digital supply chain worldwide.
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