5 ways to address volatility in supply chains

Dec 6, 2021
Supply Chain

Table of content:

We are in a place now where global supply disruptions have led to shortages of everything. Changes in customer buying patterns have exacerbated the pitfalls of particular supply chain risks. Ocean and air freight capacity has been hit by disturbances that emerged throughout the pandemic and an economic shift has occurred, filling logistic container systems beyond capacity.

This crisis that has clogged global supply chain channels implies that there are not enough ships, containers, drivers, or cranes to move cargo swiftly, and there is no marvel remedy to make those assets appear in a short space of time.

Yet, these circumstances should better the forthcoming trends of the global supply chain—where shippers undertake transformation needs to  provide risk management options for future moderation, despite not making containers arrive at ports or make consumer orders arrive as quickly as they once did. 

In this article, we go through the challenges that have halted progress in the global supply chain framework and discuss the 5 ways in which they can be surmounted.

Challenging times for global supply chains

Growth in eCommerce driving multi-modal transportation has been advancing, as more transit modes are needed to meet demand. There has also been an extended focus on the supply chain function within organizations, leading to integrated operations from shippers to suppliers. 

The hurdles of operating global supply chain networks must be overcome, and multi-modal transportation will often need to be leveraged to help organizations remain competitive.  In order to replenish fulfillment centers for last-mile deliveries, the blend of road, rail, and sea can provide shorter lead times than a single mode of transport. Hence, visibility across multi-modal transportation legs is also needed. 

Designing future supply chains with resilience

Achieving visibility across a multimodal network within your supply chain transport operations is no easy task. But the vulnerabilities have now been laid bare, many of which came from processes that were engineered fundamentally for cost and speed. These supply chain models were not flexible enough to detect and quickly respond to volatile changes in supply and demand, thus leaving decision-makers on the back foot and unable to adapt as conditions changed daily.

One of the key strategies to implement and overcome this issue is ensuring high-quality data is integrated with shipper transport management systems (TMS). It provides contextual data to be obtained linking to each shipment, enhancing the performance and reliability of ETAs. 

By gathering real-time information on multimodal transportation flows, fluid data transfers between all stakeholders in the chain provide secure access and a source for collecting real-time data.

Customer centricity has a role to play

The backlash that followed from consumers who were dissatisfied with delays and order cancelations hit home during recent years, with many realizing that customer-centricity was not about second-guessing customers’ needs. As supply chain management means getting products to the correct place at the precise time for the right cost to satisfy consumer demands,  these changes to a supply chain expedition process will positively impact meeting customer needs. 

The difficulties of managing global supply chain networks and embracing multi-modal transportation are integral to future supply chains. Companies have to ensure that their real-world supply chain can begin to offer the kind of experience that their clients and consumers want.

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Predicting supply and demand

Supply chain visibility needs to address predicting supply and demand. The benefits of a resilient supply chain are economical and social. If a supplier status and the flow of goods can be observed in real-time, enterprises can adequately manage costs, lessen risks and maximize efficiency.

Predicting supply and demand has a greater effect on processes for collaboration with suppliers and customers, and ways to assess supplier risk. With real-time insight made readily available to all supply chain collaborators, optimizations can be made throughout the chain, for example at loading sites to reduce planned dwell times, reducing transport costs.

Data accuracy

Designing future supply chains with embedded resilience requires digital aptitudes to make supply chain data more accurate, up-to-date, and secure, which is no easy responsibility for data analysts. In addition, investments in the digital twin, control tower technology, cloud-based systems can make a significant distinction in delivering the digital supply chain data effectively.

The future of data and digital supply chains is centered around using advanced analytics and machine learning algorithms to take real-time data and deliver predictions on what will happen next, where goods will be, and when they will arrive. 

Accurate and reliable forecasts empower companies to start automating processes and take advantage of more high-level data analysis, therefore opening the possibility to knowing the delays to deliveries, adequately planning resources to boost efficiency levels. From there, supply chains emerge from being reactive to real-time and then conclusively to predictive.

Extensive supply chain management with 3PLs and 4PLs

There is also a future position for 3PLs and 4PLs as reliable allies in an extensive supply chain as they concentrate on managing the continuous preparation, optimization, and execution of their clients’ supply chain networks. A broad focus on supply chain efficiency places them in a favorable position to develop industry best practices and trial innovative technologies. They are enabling businesses to develop flexibility and agility while also diminishing costs and risks with certainty.


Supply chain agility is increasingly a prerequisite for long-term success. Further enhancing productivity to address the changing market situation promptly and to stay ahead of competitors. Businesses need to monitor the circumstances to understand and adapt, mitigate the possible risks internally, use data and analytics to improve operating performance, and build smart, resilient supply chains. 

The most efficient and resilient supply chains are networked ecosystems of suppliers, distributors, retailers, and other partners to the manufacturer. Digital enablement of the supply chain through intuitive dashboards and mobile applications for drivers will pay dividends in the long term.

If there is anything to be learned in recent years, when a crisis hits a section of the global economy, it grows and touches companies across the whole ecosystem and usually in unforeseen ways. Advanced operations for anticipating requests, tracking, and tracing help pivot operations, allowing for business continuity during disruption. 

The pathway to resilience is organizations using collaborative processes and innovative technologies to rise up against global supply chain risks. Find out more about the importance of visibility by getting in touch with one of our experts to see how Shippeo can help you.

5 ways to address volatility in supply chains
5 ways to address volatility in supply chains
5 ways to address volatility in supply chains

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