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2021 Automation supply chain update

Sept. 14, 2021

Insufficient masking, lagging vaccinations and inconsistent domestic and international responses are prolonging the pandemic, and fueling new waves by COVID-19's more communicable Delta variant, which are sadly more prevalent than they have to be. Of course, this situation has impacts beyond human well-being and healthcare, and is affecting communities, businesses and industries in all locations and the supply chains between them. Many technologies and strategies can help, but it appears that maintaining personal relationships is crucial for any of them to succeed. 

Staying close despite stresses

More than 75 respondents to Control's latest "Buy direct vs. distributors" survey reported in July 2021 that they're retaining many of the strategies they adopted at the beginning of the pandemic to locate, specify, purchase and implement components and support services, such as buying direct from suppliers and online from distributor websites. Those experiencing supply chain disruptions increased 12 percentage points from 74.5% in 2020 to 86.5% this year. Read more.

Lead time lunacy

Beyond all its other impacts, one of COVID-19's most damaging effects on manufacturing and process control supply chains is that it's imposing huge lead times on raw materials, intermediate, parts and finished products, most notably microprocessors for automotive and consumer electronics. Read more.

History of whipsaws

As difficult as present strains on the supply chain are, many of the conditions for them and the volatile fluctuations they produce started before the pandemic. Will Aja of Panacea Technologies Inc. traces supply chain issues and explains how the company adjusts the design process around the supply chain. Read more.

Immunized by inventory

Suppliers, distributors, system integrators and users alike agree the best way to combat long lead times and other supply chain disruptions is to increase inventories of raw materials, parts and devices ahead of time to soften the blow of future scarcities. AutomationDirect explains how to fight long lead times and other supply chain problems by beefing up inventories. Read more.

Inoculated by infrastructure

Beyond expanding inventories, shoring up the structures that allow supply chains to operate are equally vital to their long-term survival. Allied Electronics & Automation shows how to support the structures that surround supply chains. Read more.

Realign and redesign with the times

Supply chains distorted by COVID-19 are also forcing projects and procedures to reorganize themselves. Matrix Technologies' Jim Mansfield reports that COVID-19's continuing impact on global supply chains is pushing users, system integrators and suppliers to get more involved sooner and collaborate more closely with their clients. Read more.

Digitalization assists the edges

Digitalization can help users gather data, improve planning, and maintain inventories, so the impact of raw material and product shortages are less severe. Uma Pingali, business president of Newark, explains how digitalized tools can enhanced supply chain capabilities. Read more.

Suppliers reboot supply chain mission

While nothing can replace scarce microprocessors and other parts lacking due to disrupted supply chains, some suppliers report that digitalization can alleviate some of the symptoms until essential product arrive. Experts from Emerson, Honeywell, Rockwell Automation and Siemens weigh in digitalization and other supply chain remedies. Read more.

About the author: Jim Montague
About the Author

Jim Montague | Executive Editor

Jim Montague is executive editor of Control. 

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