When sup­ply chains no lon­ger work

When the con­tai­ner ship Ever Given got caught in a sand­s­torm on March 23 of this year and was sub­se­quently stuck across the Suez Canal, almost all world trade came to a standstill. Deli­ve­ries “just in time” 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.

The relo­ca­tion of pro­duc­tion and work­pla­ces, or “off­sho­ring” for short, was until recently part of the stra­te­gic plan­ning of large cor­po­ra­ti­ons as well as medium-sized com­pa­nies. 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 up. A rea­lign­ment of stra­te­gic plan­ning is urgently required.

In order to be able to res­tore the balance of 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.

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