Snapshot: How to Build a Resilient Supply Chain

Snapshot: How to Build a Resilient Supply Chain

How do you handle the complexity of a global supply chain while also preparing it for future challenges? Building the resilient supply chain was on the agenda as experts from Nobia, GS1, Jernkontoret, and Trase gathered for Cognizant’s online seminar. Collaboration, transparency, and traceability were highlighted as key ingredients.

Unsurprisingly, supply chains are on everyone’s minds these days. Is it possible to form and prepare for a more responsive supply chain that also meets sustainability requirements? 

Operating on a global market, gives kitchen manufacturer Nobia an opportunity to promote a sustainable business practice throughout the value chain, says Amanda Jackson, Head of Sustainability at Nobia. Among other things, the company has developed an internal tool to assess material, design, and functionality of all new kitchen products, with the aim to establish more circular solutions. 

Nobia has also developed a program for responsible sourcing, which includes a digital platform for assessment and risk classification of suppliers. So far, nearly 300 suppliers are integrated, and the platform is now the common ground for collaboration and continuous improvements. During the ongoing pandemics, the platform has also enabled operational stability, rapid risk identification and sourcing of new suppliers. In the future, it will be used to drill even further down the supply chain to mitigate risks and enhance performance. 

Trust starts with traceability
One way of increasing supply chain control is to turn to standards. Staffan Olsson is Senior Sales and Client Relations Manager at the non-profit organization GS1. It offers a set of global standards to identify, capture and share data linked to flow of goods, services, and information. The basic idea is that traceability isn’t something you just fix, it’s an effect of doing things right. Traceability, in turn, enables efficient supply chains, products safety, regulatory compliance and, ultimately, consumer trust. GS1 provides a digital toolbox for achieving all this.  

With 114 member countries, the standards are widely spread. In Sweden alone, almost 100% of all items passing a retail checkout carry a GS1 barcode and 90% of all shipments are identified using GS1 standards. GS1 continuously develops new digital transformation enablers, like the GS1 Link that bridge the digital and physical worlds of products, and offers a collaboration platform for supply chain users. 

Begin with a broad picture
Collaboration is key also to Swedish steel producers’ association Jernkontoret, according to its Research Manager Eva Blixt. With UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and a holistic perspective as its starting point, Jernkontoret strives to transform the Swedish steel industry. 

The complexity of the steel’s global value chain is immense; with steel and iron production and processing plants in Sweden, the end-products come in over 3,500 different shapes that are sold all over the world. Jernkontoret has set a 2050 vision that, among other things, states that only products of value to the society should leave the plants. While steel demands constantly increase, the need to lower CO2 emissions in the production process is becoming critical. Solving this equation requires global collaboration and co-creation. 

Assessing supply chain sustainability
Some of Jernkontoret’s work is performed together with Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). Toby Gardner, Senior Research Fellow at SEI, says that meeting the growing demand for sustainable supply chains requires revolutionizing data transparency. The Trase initiative, launched in 2016, enables governments, companies, and others to address the environmental impacts linked to global supply chains. And the new visibility is needed; up to 40% of deforestation emissions are driven by international trade. 

Within the initiative, previously untapped data sources have been harnessed to map half the global trade in major agricultural commodities – like soy, beef and palm –  that drive environmental and social impacts. The approach is about balancing detail and scale to assess supply chain sustainability. Ultimately, Toby Gardner wishes the focus to shift from a supply chain centric model to a region centric approach. To succeed, the private and public sector need to work together. 

Get your strategy in place
According to Sven Jagebro, Nordic Head of Digital Strategy Consulting at Cognizant, Covid-19 sent a shock wave across global supply chains. It also revealed a lack of preparedness to disruptions. Besides from handling the pandemic implications, issues like the race towards a circular economy, a new world trade order, and disruptive innovations will further challenge supply chains. 

How important is technology in preparing for a new future then? According to Cognizant’s manufacturing expert Andreas Rosengren, you shouldn’t just rush for the tech tools. Instead, make sure you have a game plan in place first. 

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