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Survey: Supply Chain Shortages Remain a Big Concern

By David Muller Senior Editor, SME Media

Supply chain shortages are the leading concern for manufacturers as they look to the future, according to a survey by LeanDNA and Wakefield Research.

The survey of 250 supply chain, planning and inventory executives, all of whom were at least at the manager level, showed that 56% of respondents pointed to supply shortages as a concern going forward. Other worry points included:

  • Public health crises (52%)
  • Natural disasters (50%)
  • Government regulations (49%)
  • Cyberattacks (49%)
  • Geopolitical conflicts (45%)

Asked how much their organizations have increased investment in preparedness for such major disruptions, more than half of survey respondents—59%--said that they have upped spending “a great deal,” while 33% said they have increased spending “some” and 8% said “a little.”

In terms of the approach organizations are taking when it comes to their processes and/or “technology stack” to improve preparedness, 53% of the executives said they had “made major changes.” About one third said they had “overhauled our approach completely,” while just 12% said they had “changed a few things” in their approach and only 1% said they hadn’t made any changes.

When asked what business risks they feared will happen with a future disruption if the organization is not properly prepared, 47% pointed to an impact on their workforce, followed by reduced productivity (45%) and a damaged reputation (45%). Fractured supplier relationships and a decrease in quality both tallied 36% response rates, with customer dissatisfaction and loss of revenue following close behind with each listed by about one-third of respondents.

The two leading steps organizations are taking to prepare for any major disruptions include an increased supply chain visibility and a diversified supply base—both at 41%. That was followed by identifying new or better vendors at 39%, deploying digital twin and other simulation technologies (37%), a reskilled workforce (36%), the adoption of new tools (34%), partnerships with third-party logistics experts (32%), adding new homegrown tools (27%) and add-ons to enterprise resource planning for more functionality (26%).

Of particular note for LeanDNA, an Austin, Texas-based intelligent supply chain platform, was that three-quarters of survey respondents did not have a “predictive view of supply and demand,” the company said in a press release detailing the survey results. The company also noted that, per the survey, supply chain professionals spend nearly 14 hours per week manually tracking data. The full survey results can be found here.

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