Looking Beyond Covid-19

Chain of paper clips.

Redesigning Supply Chains for Greater Resilience 

Nallan Suresh

Nallan Suresh headshot.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021
Noon-1 p.m. EST

Supply chain disruptions appear to be ever more frequent, and with increasing magnitude and impact.  A wide range of disruptive events have occurred during the last two decades: acts of nature such as earthquakes, earthquake-triggered nuclear accidents (Fukushima), hurricanes, volcano eruptions, tsunamis, as well as human acts such as cyber-attacks, terrorism, global warming, port strikes, maritime accidents, piracy, trade wars, currency manipulation, consumer hoarding and speculation, just to name a few.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed some major weaknesses in global supply chains, most notably in the supply of every-day groceries, and for medical supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators. There is currently a need to reflect and synthesize all the lessons learned thus far through the era of hurricanes, Covid-19, and other events, and systematically diagnose the underlying vulnerabilities plaguing current supply chains.

As we now attempt to recover from the Covid-19 disruptions, we are starting to witness an across-the-board increase in consumer demand. At the same time, new constraints have emerged on the supply side, which are stifling economic recovery, and increasing inflation risks. For instance, the current shortage of semiconductor chips has stifled the recovery of the automobile industry and creating a shortage of new cars available, and increasing prices of cars.  Likewise, the semiconductor supply situation has affected a wide range of other industries in addition to the automotive sector. This shortage commenced a few years prior to the onset of Covid-19, and can traced back to the hoarding of semiconductor chips by Chinese firms in response to trade frictions with the US. This was followed by a series of disruptive events such as a fire in Renesas plant in Japan, and an unprecedented snowstorm in Texas that curtailed production in firms like Samsung, besides Covid-19 itself. A similar supply shortage is seen in many other products.

This webinar will summarize these causes, lessons learnt, and provide some actions that are critically needed by way of both mitigation and fast response. More fundamentally, a fresh look at redesigning supply chains is needed to ensure robustness and resilience to disruptions.  

The webinar will address questions such as: What should industries do to assess risk in every segment of the supply chain, avoiding over-dependence on a limited number of supply sources, geographical concentrations of supply production and distribution, and other vulnerabilities? In which places in the supply chain should we create surge capacity and reserve inventories? On the demand side, what should industries do to better forecast demand surges and disruptive events, anticipate consumer panic buying and hoarding behavior?  How should companies devise rationing mechanisms to ensure equitable distribution of essential items at critical times? How do we provide supply, inventory and logistics information to reassure customers and deter speculation and gaming?  How do we systematically pain points, so that both mitigation and response are ensured in all supply chains, as we enter an “era of unknown unknowns”? 

About Nallan Suresh
Nallan Suresh is UB Distinguished Professor, Dept. of Operations Management & Strategy in UB School of Management. He is also Associate Director for UB’s Stephen Still Institute for Sustainable Transportation & Logistics.

Dr. Suresh specializes in manufacturing, logistics and supply chain management. He is a leading researcher and educator in supply chain management, lean manufacturing, logistics management and production planning & control. His contributions include the book: Group Technology and Cellular Manufacturing (Kluwer-Springer). He is a recipient of Alfred Bodine / Society of Manufacturing Engineers Award for Studies in Machine Tool Economics; Joseph T.J. Stewart Faculty Scholarship, Sustained Achievement Exceptional Scholar Award at State University of New York. 

His current research work is in the areas of supply chain agility, disruption risk mitigation and response, and application of blockchain and IoT technologies in supply chains.

Dr. Suresh has conducted numerous industry education programs for senior executives in USA, Europe and Asia for more than two decades. In particular, he has conducted executive training programs in Singapore, China, India, S. Korea, Sri Lanka and other countries. He has served as a Visiting Professor in University of Groningen in Netherlands, Huazhong University of Science & Technology in Wuhan, China, and other universities for many years.