It was a difficult time for the global supply chain. A general skills shortage at a time of rising demand compounded by the disruption of Covid-19 and its variants has led to queues at fuel pumps, empty supermarket shelves and shortages of a whole range of products, from white goods to microchips and Building Materials.
The impact is being felt strongly in Australia, and to varying degrees around the world. A solution has yet to be identified – while governments (Australia in particular) are emphasizing training and investment in the logistics sector, others are postulating the implementation of automation as a complete solution.
The answer lies somewhere in the middle.
What is causing the supply chain problem? The difficulties are many. They started with the Covid and the necessary shutdown of industrial productivity around the world, starting with China. Responsible for 28.7% of global manufacturing output, China’s shutdown inevitably impacted the global supply chain, which was followed by varying degrees of shutdowns in all other major manufacturing countries. The supply chain then experienced the inability to move goods that had already been produced. Container ships got stuck in closed ports, drivers got sick and couldn’t work, and those who could work couldn’t always cross borders. While most pandemic-related restrictions have since been lifted, the fact is that not all supply chain issues are pandemic-related. The growing demand was already straining the infrastructure, and then the big quit came.
Does technology have a role to play in solving the global supply chain crisis?
As the supply chain crisis continues, some voices are calling for the implementation of technologies to relieve the pressure. With the IoT (Internet of Things) and developments in automation, there is the possibility of complete digitization.
People continue to play an important role in today’s global supply chain issues. The high turnover of long-serving employees is also fueled by employee dissatisfaction, with long working hours, physical strains and an unstructured structure that has only been made worse by the pandemic. These factors create a more stressful work environment for employees. This stress is then exacerbated by low margins, which translate into lower wages and fierce labor competition. To combat these issues, we need faster onboarding that helps build employee confidence, improve engagement, and communicate more effectively.
Better onboarding through apps like WorkJam systematically sequences and orchestrates employee training in an accessible mobile format, providing comprehensive information and support to new hires, while simultaneously relieving some of the pressure of onboarding positions of management. It is essential to be aware that employee retention issues can be significantly impacted by the quality of communication in a company. Enhanced communication channels with integrated online translation and visual communication methods help transcend language barriers and accommodate those who need to communicate in their second (or even third) language. Specific communication channels can even be established in different languages to facilitate non-English speaking employees. Enhanced employee training provided in these targeted communication channels through the corporate chain of command. Live digitized task management systems ensure tasks are completed based on priority, and smart scheduling can help prevent burnout, ensuring no employee is overworked.
Companies also cannot overlook the importance of technology in compliance. Digitization greatly helps with documentation and regulatory compliance, generating reports on standard operating procedures, employee training, and corporate communications. The demands on the global supply chain are only increasing. The integration of technology will provide the means to deal with both current disruptions and any issues that may arise in the future.