Supply Chain Disruptions: A New Normal

Remember when the pandemic hit and everything went haywire? Supply chains were no exception. With lockdowns and labor shortages, plus a big shift in how we shop, things got delayed and shelves went empty. We thought it would get better once the pandemic eased. But more challenges kept popping up—and they still do.

Now, disruptions are a regular part of the supply chain. But it’s not all doom and gloom. We just need to understand that supply chains are like giant global spiderwebs: They're complex, but we can plan for and tackle the ongoing issues.

The Main Disruptions

Geopolitical Issues

Places like the Red Sea, Ukraine, and Taiwan are causing headaches for global supply chains. For instance, conflicts in Gaza and attacks on ships in the Red Sea have forced shippers to avoid the Suez Canal and go around the southern tip of Africa instead, leading to a 250% increase in the cost of shipping a container.

Climate Change and Disasters

Extreme drought is affecting shipping through the Panama Canal, reducing traffic by almost 40% and making passage impossible for large cargo vessels. In 2022, the Rhine River, a key waterway in Europe, experienced severe flooding and then a drought, disrupting the movement of goods.

Labor Shortages

From truck drivers in South Korea to dock workers in Germany and the U.K., labor shortages are hitting supply chains hard. A survey revealed that 37% of supply chain and logistics leaders are facing severe labor shortages.

Create a Resilient Supply Chain

Diversify and Create Redundancy
Companies are using dual sourcing (having multiple suppliers for key goods) and nearshoring (moving manufacturing or sourcing closer to home) to reduce risk and dependence on global logistics networks.

Use Predictive Analytics and Scenario Planning
Knowing where goods are, how long they take to move, the cost, and the resources used allows for powerful analysis. Simulations can reveal weak spots, enable impact analysis, and help create and test contingency plans.

Making Agile Decisions
Adapting your supply chain to thrive during any crisis is crucial. Collaboration and enabling local teams to make key decisions can lead to quicker response times.

We’ve learned that our supply chains are fragile, but we’re just starting to fix them. Technologies like Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and 2D barcodes can trace a product and provide visibility. To unlock these capabilities, we need robust digital standards that allow us to identify, capture, and share critical information across the entire supply chain. The key to a faster, more sustainable, and more resilient supply chain is creating a fully interoperable ecosystem.

How Can GS1 US Help? Supply Chain Visibility.

Everyone in a supply chain needs to know what’s available, where it is, and how much there is. But manual processes and inconsistent data structures can make it hard to share this information across the network.

Luckily, technology powered by GS1 Standards can help. Identifying the products, places, and shipments in the supply chain is a great place to start. Then tools like RFID and 2D barcodes, including QR codes, can track an item’s journey with great efficiency and accuracy. Retailers can improve inventory management, and brands can provide detailed product information to consumers.

Warehouse workers collaborating

Get Started With Supply Chain Visibility by Using a Company Prefix From GS1 US

A company prefix from GS1 US® provides an authentic way to uniquely identify products, shipping units, and locations in the supply chain and establishes the foundation for end-to-end visibility.

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