Is Your Supply Chain Ready For Business As Usual?
Across the country, supply chains have been severely affected by issues brought on by the pandemic; limiting the capacity to get products to the end of the line in any sort of timely fashion. But for an industry that is so reliant on the timely delivery of materials and the overall adherence to schedules, the construction industry may be feeling the pains of these issues more than others.
To see the effects of this, one need not look any further than the disproportionate surge in lumber prices taking place in Canada across the past 18 months. According to Statistics Canada, in the year between March 2020 and March 2021, as the availability of lumber waned due to lumber mill shutdowns, the prices of softwood lumber soared, rising by as much as 119 per cent. This was the largest year-over-year jump ever reported by the industry. This resulted in lengthy project delays and major increases in building costs, with residential construction costs rising at the beginning of 2021 by about 15 per cent in major Canadian cities.
While much of these issues were caused by the shutdown of lumber mills at the onset of the pandemic, the fact that they are still trying to catch up to a complication that occurred more than a year ago is putting increased pressure on the operation of supply chains.
Lumber, of course, is just one material. And as lockdowns ease and construction projects ramp back up to full capacity, will construction sites have all the resources they need to meet demand in a timely manner? Research suggests there are issues in the supply chain that may complicate a return to normal.
When comparing the efficiency of the transportation and logistics (T&L) industry in Canada with other countries around the world, we are the leaders in one key area. According to SOTI’s Mobilizing the Delivery Workforce: State of Mobility in Transportation and Logistics 2021 study, Canada lost two days of productivity per month because of technological issues versus one day or less in the U.S., Mexico, UK, Germany, France, Sweden, and Australia, the other countries surveyed in the report.
While these companies have been investing in technology to catch up, they are still struggling. The same study showed that of the T&L professionals surveyed, 70 per cent listed device downtime as the top concern in their business. As a result, 80 per cent of the same professionals surveyed in SOTI’s T&L study said they were planning on investing in new mobile technology, such as devices, wearables, and IoT sensors.
Integration Is Critical
As T&L companies are looking to invest in technology to create further efficiencies within the supply chain, they must be strategic about the technology they purchase; otherwise these investments will not make their processes better or more efficient.
Without a clear plan in place, they run the risk of creating a patchwork network of technology and devices that do not integrate, further confounding what is already a complicated area of technology and clogging up an already congested supply chain.
To put it succinctly, if T&L decision-makers do not create a strategy before purchasing technology, they will create more problems than they solve. In fact, according to SOTI’s T&L study, 72 per cent stated that they did not believe their company’s systems were integrated, falling just behind the previously mentioned issue of device downtime.
This lack of integration has a broader impact, too, with 45 per cent of those surveyed claiming that updated information was not being shared with their team or that staff had to manually update multiple systems.
What Can Be Done?
T&L companies need to evaluate every step along their supply chain; speaking with employees to truly take stock of where inefficiencies exist that can be corrected and then applying those lessons learned to their operations plan for future technology investments.
As for device downtime – there are solutions to alleviate time lost by businesses as they wait for a service technician to get onsite to fix the device. For example, investing in remote control software that allows IT departments to deploy, manage and service all your organization’s mobile devices remotely. Without any need to be onsite, not only does this alleviate pressure on your IT team, but also saves the end user, usually an employee out in the field, countless hours of downtime while they wait for an issue to be resolved.
Looking forward, it will take some time for supply chains to catch up and return to normal levels. This is unavoidable. But what the industry can do is begin preparing and strategizing to create a stronger, more resilient and more efficient supply chain – one that can survive with relatively little disruption when the next major issue inevitably arrives.
About the Author
As Vice-President of Product Strategy at SOTI, Shash Anand oversees the company’s evolution from a single product centered around Mobile Device Management (MDM) to an integrated platform that solves many of the challenges around enterprise mobility and IoT management. Shash holds a degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Toronto, and an MBA from the Rotman School of Management. After working for IBM as a Technical Support Engineer and Business Operations Manager, Shash joined SOTI to lead the company’s global expansion.
Throughout his tenure with the company, Shash has worked across both technical and operational teams, overseeing key departments within the business. With diverse experience across the organization, including: Professional Services & Support, Product Management, Product Marketing, Business Development & Sales, and Strategic Alliances, Shash has extensive expertise building global teams from start-up to scale-up success.
Shash is Chairman of the Board at MCIS Language Solutions, a non-profit organization whose mission is to remove language barriers and improve access to critical information and services through high-quality language solutions.
SOTI is the world’s most trusted provider of mobile and IoT management solutions, with more than 17,000 enterprise customers and millions of devices managed worldwide. SOTI’s innovative portfolio of solutions and services provide the tools organizations need to truly mobilize their operations and optimize their mobility investments. SOTI extends secure mobility management to provide an integrated solution to manage and secure all mobile devices and connected peripherals in an organization.