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Be Proactive, Don’t Wait

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A modest plan is better than none. Here’s advice on planning, and a few resources you should know about.

Covid-19 caught many organizations flatfooted. But some shifted into response mode, as if they had planned for the event, had run simulation models and knew exactly what to do. These companies had the commitment and support of leadership to invest in strategies for different scenarios.

Supply chain resiliency has been a popular topic for years within the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (, Lombard, Ill.


Until recently, financial resources committed to scenario-based planning have been sparse. Today, there seems to be much greater concern and senior level commitment.

Supply chain resiliency has been a popular topic for years within the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (, Lombard, Ill. Peer networks are a good place to gain insights on how to better anticipate problems by focusing on avoidance. But you also need a greater understanding of redundancy opportunities and response resources. Consider the AAA-PPP-RRR approach: (Assess, Anticipate & Avoid – Prevent, Prepare & Plan – make Resilient, React, & Recover).

Disruptive threats can be assessed across an entire organization, departmentally, or both. Every organization is different, but the most common threats and risks can be viewed from internal and external perspectives. Internal threats might include those involving staffing, and the availability of labor, facilities, and assets including machinery, fleets, etc. Within the cold chain, refrigeration continuity and back-up systems are critical. External threats can include cyber, energy and fuel disruption, weather, natural disasters, infrastructure, geo-political events, and more. Most recently, supply continuity and supplier redundancy have become of particular concern.

Reverberations from 2020 will likely continue. The reliance on China as a single source has many U.S. firms adopting “China plus one” strategies, contemplating nearshoring, and even establishing domestic production facilities. Lean, just-in-time food supply chain strategies are being reconsidered for increased safety stock levels. This of course is easier with dry goods, slightly more complicated with frozen food, and nearly impossible with most fresh foods.

Moving forward, it’s wise to have a short list of resources for things such as cyber-protection service firms, simulation software, redundant and back-up systems for data, energy and fuel. While not all refrigerated warehouses have on-site backup generators, most can quickly connect portable generators as needed.

Many firms advance-contract for such services. Best in class 3PLs can provide valuable contingency and redundant logistics solutions. Some firms specializing in outsourced labor can assist with contingent labor solutions.

So, if you are one of those people tasked with improving continuity plans and making your supply chain more resilient, perhaps feeling a bit overwhelmed after battling the impact of Covid-19 well into 2021, know you are not alone. You might be wondering where to start. Assessing the greatest risks to your organizations and understanding any changes Covid-19 may have made to your risk levels would be prudent.


Freight Handlers Incorporated (FHI), ( Fuquay-Varina, N.C., has deep roots in retail grocery, providing managed labor solutions for distribution and logistics. It has an entire business unit dedicated to contingent solutions. The group saw demand for contingent labor services spike during the pandemic, according to Matt Lucey, vp of contingency services and road crew operations.

FHI can quickly provide a highly-trained labor team led by proven managers that know how to streamline your operation. It can provide you with a data-driven approach to operational performance via insightful dashboards, data and analytics.

The American Logistics Aid Network (, Lakeland, Fla., is a unique non-profit comprised of volunteering individuals and companies. ALAN offers a helping hand to help others and develop a network of like-minded people. When disaster strikes, few things are more important than good logistics. In fact, it’s often the key differentiator between wanting to deliver help and actually being able to. The industrywide organization exists to provide supply chain assistance to disaster relief organizations (and other non-profits).

It’s wise to have a short list of resources for things such as cyber-protection service firms, simulation software, redundant and back-up systems for data, energy and fuel.

Kathy Fulton, executive director, notes that “The past year has shown us that much of what makes our supply chains efficient also makes them vulnerable. With the structural changes we’ve seen to many supply chains due to the pandemic, it is a good time to ensure continuity plans are still valid. Now more than ever our world needs cold chain providers to be resilient.”

San Marcos, Calif.-based Everstream Analytics ( delivers a range of predictive analytics solutions enabling supply chain and logistics professionals globally to get in front of costly delays and disruptions. It provides advance insights and early detection of disruptive events:

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Early detection, advance warning, and relative insights to disruptive threats are essential to prevention. The food and beverage sector has seen unprecedented disruption and dislocation to both supply and demand from the Covid-19 pandemic. We now have inflated commodity prices and an active tropical storm season as we approach the growing season in the northern hemisphere. Companies that effectively use data and analytics will outperform those that do not, particularly this year,” said David Shillingford, CEO.

John Haggerty

John Haggerty

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