When supply chains no longer function

When the container ship Ever Given got caught in a sandstorm on March 23 of this year and was subsequently stuck transversely in the Suez Canal, almost all world trade came to a standstill. Just-in-time” deliveries became impossible at a stroke. But things were to get even worse for the economy: While production stoppages in countries with a high Corona burden had already caused supply bottlenecks in some cases, the initial recovery phases were compounded by a shortage of important components due to high demand, resulting in a noticeable increase in prices. A number of companies had to temporarily cease production. Within a short time, low-wage countries developed into a cost and deadline trap.

Until recently, the relocation of production and jobs, known as “offshoring” for short, was part of the strategic planning of large corporations and medium-sized companies alike.

Low labor costs and precisely tailored logistics made a noticeable contribution to improving cost calculations. However, as soon as a giant freighter gets out of line in one of the world’s most important waterways, the entire structure is shaken. A realignment of strategic planning is urgently needed.

In order to restore the balance between costs and timely logistics, business and politics must rely on recommendations for action that are based on reliable findings from various data sources. These include the availability of raw materials, a suitable infrastructure for the selection of locations, the recruitment of qualified employees and, last but not least, the requirements of sustainable production. The fact that the respective individual data sources are available is not enough. Rather, the data must be brought together, structured and intelligently evaluated in order to build up a crisis-resilient balance.

The joint project PAIRS is funded as an AI lighthouse project within the framework of the “Innovation Competition Artificial Intelligence” by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK).