2023: Managing Another Year of Supply Chain Instability

The supply chain had a lot to contend with in 2022: the aftermath of Brexit and the pandemic; rising inflation and conflict in Ukraine.

2023 is likely to be another challenging year. Here, SCALA’s Executive Directors give their views on what this year may bring and what the key focus for businesses might be in order to adapt:

Phil Reuben: Supply Chain Resilience

In 2023, those businesses which will be successful are the ones which are able to show flexibility in their supply chain.

A resilient supply chain strategy will focus on removing the risk of disruption to operations through a two-stage process:

Step 1:  Undertake a supply chain risk assessment, taking the entire chain into consideration from suppliers to consumers to identify critical points that are over-reliant on a specific supplier, geography, or technology,

Step 2: Once the risks to the supply chain network have been assessed, see where strategies should be implemented to mitigate any potential risks.

One change many businesses have made in recent years is nearshoring and onshoring suppliers. If businesses are to cope this year, considering shortening the supply chain is a great option to provide greater resilience.

Dave Howorth: Robotics and Automation

Robotics and automation have been gathering interest in the logistics industry for many years but now is the time for businesses to take the concept more seriously and dedicate the investment to it.

Talent shortages are being seen across the industry from warehouse staff to drivers to office-based workers due to poor pay, inadequate working conditions and loss of EU staff.

While human input remains essential to every area of the industry, robotics and automation solutions should certainly be explored.

Robotics have the capacity to:

  • perform tasks with little to no intervention
  • reduce the reliance on human labour
  • decrease costs
  • optimise processes
  • increase safety for workers in dangerous working environments.

It’s important to remember that this does not mean a full replacement of human roles, but rather using automation and robotics to support and fill gaps.

Rob Wright: The Road to Net Zero

For many companies over the last few years the commitment to placing sustainability high on the business agenda has been hampered by ongoing supply chain instability. Now more than ever though, businesses need to reduce carbon emissions and make sustainability the priority once again.

With a target for businesses to hit net zero by 2025 and with a third of companies having no measures in place to monitor their carbon footprint, there is much work to be done.

Changes to transport are key to making improvements in this area.

Businesses around the world are making the transition to electric vehicles but more research is needed into the development of EVs to make them a viable option for all companies.

The development of an Electric Road System (ERS) is the ideal to make EVs more accessible and practical for transport. This electric motorway, where trucks would be charged via overhead cables as they travel, reduces both battery size and the scale of charging infrastructure required to make electric HGVs a possibility.

In summary, we know that 2023 is bound to bring further uncertainty but by taking steps to become more resilient, invest more in robotics and automation, and consider sustainability, businesses should be able to better weather the storm.

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