Yesterday, Schwabe and the Portland and Puget Sound Business Journals hosted PNW Predictions: Supply Chain Reimagined, a discussion about the effect of the pandemic on the supply chain, and predictions for the future.

The panel was impressive, including Christopher Alldredge from Parr Lumber Company, Ryan Gavin from Convoy, Dr. Karthik Murali from Oregon State University, and Alex Strogen from the Port of Vancouver.

Right off the bat, it was clear from this conversation that no one can take our supply chain for granted. Our panelists explored how COVID-19 acted as a catalyst for learning, teaching lessons in nine months that in normal time would take two to three years.

Other top takeaways:

  • The pandemic illuminated the challenges to adapting to customers’ demands. There has been a lack of procedure as to how communication with stakeholders occurs in the supply chain.
  • There needs to be a focus on building resiliency into the supply chain. This means spreading out distribution, sourcing, and production.
  • There is a need for supplier diversification and for supply to be closer to manufacturing. Businesses need to look at where they can add safety stock, etc.
  • The industry needs to invest in tech and automation. Automation in this case means being able to automate the manufacturing process. It’s important to invest in ERP systems and engage with customers when and where they want to be met.
  • The biggest change in hiring is the number of employees who want to be associated with a mission-driven company, and now there are more data-driven roles than ever before.

One of the biggest takeaways is that success won’t be determined by having a crystal ball to predict the future. Rather, businesses need to invest in finding solutions that are more reliable in the face of uncertainty. Businesses need to react dynamically to changes and have effective communication throughout the chain. To keep the lights on, it is critical to invest in and use technology to solve problems quickly.

For those who would like to view the full presentation, a recording is available here.

Register now for the next PNW Predictions event on September 15, 2021, where we’ll explore innovations in the real estate and construction industry.

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