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Process automation, control supply chain maintains strong links

Sept. 9, 2020
Jim Montague explores the supply chain and the strategies suppliers and distributors are using to prevent disruption due to COVID-19

There are hiccups and tweaks, and there's planet-peeling chaos and scrambling madly to maybe survive. So which scenario is the process control and automation supply chain facing right now? Right, the same one that blindsided everyone else.

In this multi-part series, executive editor Jim Montague speaks with suppliers and distributors to learn how they're ensuring manufacturers have the solutions they need when they need them. 

Part 1: Supply chain uses multiple strategies to fight COVID-19 disruption 

While not nearly as decimated as the hundreds of thousands who died and the millions more sickened or left jobless, most process industry users—and the suppliers and distributors who serve them—have watched the COVID-19 pandemic turn their applications, plants and businesses upside down. Where suppliers and distributors used to wrestle with the shift to online sales, or more recently tried to mimic Amazon's fast delivery methods driven by consumer expectations, they're now hip deep in a health crisis that's disrupting all aspects of their organizations, businesses and markets. Read more.

Part 2: Pulse of the pandemic in process

To collect and confirm specifics about how readers view their supply chains and how they're handling the pandemic, Control secured responses from close to 100 end users, distributors and suppliers in its latest 10-question "Distributors vs. Buy Direct" survey in July 2020. Respondents also reported on the most useful strategies they're using during the pandemic to locate, specify, purchase and implement their components and support services. Here are the results. Read more.

Part 3: Shorter supply chains = local reliability

Because raw materials and basic components from distant suppliers have been delayed or unavailable as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many users are refocusing on local or regional suppliers that are closer and supposedly more reliable. Here, Digi-Key Corp. explains how it's found success with a strategy of operating one centralized hub in northwestern Minnesota, and relying on fast logistics to get its products where they need to go. Read more.

Part 4: Longer supply chains = more low-cost, diverse sources

While shorter supply chains and nearer sources are comforting in a crisis, several suppliers and distributors report that worldwide networks have better communications for handling COVID-19's effects, and the low costs, multiple sources and fast transportation that let them dominate in the past will revive soon. Allied Electronics and Phoenix Contact share how global supply chains are beneficial. Read more.

Part 5: Suppliers and distributors learn to use remote-work tools to stay in business

While many process operations and suppliers have been designated as essential and remain open, they've often been limited to socially distanced skeleton crews, while everyone else has to set up, strengthen or secure home-based Wi-Fi networks and learn to use Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or other conferencing and remote-work software. Here's how they're doing it. Read more. 

Part 6: Pandemic to-do list for suppliers, distributors and customers

To better cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, experienced suppliers and distributors advise their colleagues and customers to follow some basic recommendations and procedures. Here's a quick to-do list. 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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