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Supply Chain Technology

What are the Challenges in Supply Chain Management?



May 2023

8 min read


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What are the Challenges in Supply Chain Management?


Supply chain management is a complex and ever-evolving process. It involves the coordination and integration of various activities and functions involved in the production and delivery of goods and services. However, global supply chain shortages have become increasingly evident in recent times. In this blog, we will explore supply chain management challenges, their causes, and possible solutions.

What is Supply Chain Management?

Supply chain management (SCM) involves the planning, execution, and control of all activities involved in the production and delivery of goods and services. It involves the coordination of various functions to complete effectively.


These functions include procurement, transportation, warehousing, and inventory management. These factors ensure that products and services are delivered to customers in a timely and cost-effective manner.

What are Global Supply Chain Challenges?

Changing Demands

One of the most significant supply chain issues is the changing demands of consumers. The rise of e-commerce has created a culture of instant gratification. Modern customers expect faster delivery times and more personalized products.


They want to be able to shop online, choose from a wide variety of options, and have their purchases delivered to their doorstep within a few days if not hours. This shift in consumer behavior has put pressure on supply chains to become more flexible and responsive.


For example, Amazon has set the standard for same-day and next-day delivery, and customers now expect similar services from other retailers. This demand for faster delivery times has also led to the growth of last-mile delivery services. These are focused on delivering goods to customers' homes or offices. The challenge for supply chain managers is to balance the need for speed and flexibility with the cost of providing these services.


Freight Costs

Another supply chain management challenge includes the increasing cost of freight. Rising fuel prices, driver shortages, and capacity constraints have all contributed to higher transportation costs. These rising costs impact the entire supply chain, from the manufacturer to the end customer, and can eat into profit margins.


For example, the shortage of truck drivers in the United States has led to higher wages for drivers, which has resulted in higher transportation costs. The COVID-19 pandemic has also exacerbated the problem, with port closures and travel restrictions leading to delays and capacity constraints.


These challenges have forced supply chain managers to look for alternative modes of transportation, such as rail or air freight, to avoid supply chain bottlenecks.


Unpredictability and Delays

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of our market’s supply chain resilience. Some global supply chain issues stem from port closures, labor shortages, and transport restrictions. They have led to significant delays in the delivery of goods. Natural disasters, political unrest, and other unforeseen events can also impact the supply chain and cause delays.


For example, the recent Suez Canal blockage caused a backlog of ships and delayed the delivery of goods around the world. Similarly, the Fukushima disaster in Japan disrupted global supply chains by causing shortages of critical components used in electronic devices.


These disruptions highlight the need for supply chain managers to have contingency plans in place. They also need to work closely with their suppliers and logistics partners to minimize the impact of these events.


Adapting to Digital

The fourth supply chain problem is adapting to evolving digital transformation. With the rise of Industry 4.0, supply chain management has become more data-driven. It is worth noting that companies have begun to use technology to optimize their processes.


However, many organizations struggle with implementing and integrating new digital solutions into their existing systems. Some organizations are skeptical about using AI and advanced software to simplify their processes. While these concerns stem from valid reasons, it is always a good idea to accelerate your business with the latest technology.

What is Causing Supply Chain Issues?

Globalization has led to the expansion of supply chains across the world. This has increased the complexity of managing them. Companies are now sourcing raw materials, components, and finished products from multiple suppliers. These suppliers are located in different countries, each with its own set of regulations and customs requirements.


This complexity makes it challenging for companies to manage their supply chains effectively, especially when unexpected events occur. Customers today are more demanding than ever before. Fuel prices, driver shortages, and capacity constraints have all contributed to higher transportation costs, which impact the entire supply chain.


Companies are forced to look for alternative modes of transportation to avoid supply chain bottlenecks. The increasing complexity of global supply chains, coupled with rising customer expectations and transportation costs, has created significant challenges for supply chain managers.


The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the vulnerabilities and existence of global supply chain shortages. The pandemic has caused disruptions to production and transportation. It also led to the closure of ports and borders, which has led to delays and shortages of critical components and products.


These issues have highlighted the need for increased supply chain resilience. Companies need to invest in data analytics and artificial intelligence to improve supply chain visibility and decision-making.


Improved communication and collaboration between supply chain partners are also essential for effective supply chain management. This is extremely necessary in a complex and uncertain business environment.

Supply Chain Management Solutions

End-to-End Logistics

End-to-end logistics is a holistic approach to curb supply chain management issues. It involves integrating all activities involved in the production and delivery of goods and services.


This approach involves optimizing processes across the entire supply chain. Yes, it needs to be optimized right from sourcing raw materials to delivering finished products to customers. End-to-end logistics can help organizations achieve greater efficiency, reduce costs, and improve customer satisfaction.


Other supply chain management solutions include:

  • Improved communication and collaboration between supply chain partners

  • Increased use of data analytics to optimize processes and reduce costs

  • The adoption of digital solutions such as automation, blockchain, and the Internet of Things (IoT)

Implementing supply chain risk management strategies to increase resilience and mitigate potential disruptions


What is the biggest threat to the supply chain?

One of the biggest threats to the supply chain is the increasing complexity and interconnectedness of global supply chain logistics. Disruptions in one part of the supply chain can have a ripple effect on other areas, leading to significant delays and disruptions.


How can we improve supply chain management?

Improving supply chain management issues involves taking a holistic approach that involves optimizing processes across the entire supply chain. This can be achieved through improved communication and collaboration among many other things.


Why are supply chains struggling?

Supply chains are struggling due to a combination of various factors. This could include the increasing complexity and interconnectedness of global supply chain logistics, rising customer expectations, the impact of natural disasters and political unrest, rising transportation costs, and the challenges of adapting to digital transformation.

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