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Managing supply chain disruption

Multiple companies at the SCOPE Supply Chain & Procurement Summit in Chicago this week discussed disruptions in their supply chains, along with what they are doing to combat disruptions.

Even something as simple as what could appear to be a small kink in a company’s supply chain can actually wreak havoc, which is why it’s extremely important for companies to not only recognize problems in their supply chains but also to be able to know how to prevent and fix such disruptions.

Multiple companies at the SCOPE Supply Chain & Procurement Summit held in Chicago this week discussed current headwinds in their supply chains, along with what they are doing to combat disruptions.

Rickette Collins, senior director of global supply chain and sustainability at McDonalds Corp., said that one of the key areas the company added to its supply chain structure was launching a “dedicated center of excellence,” which is an IT resource group that is working within supply chain directly.

“What we’re trying to get a better handle on, especially from a transparency standpoint, is a better view of our whole supply chain,” Collins said.

She also noted how McDonalds is looking into blockchain to improve supply chain visibility, that way as disruptions come up, the company is better prepared.

Collins also said that McDonalds faces supply chain disruption from activist groups, and therefore, the company spends a lot of time on the education side – both internally and externally – trying to talk about the food and activities in its supply chain, whether it be people related or animal related.

She said McDonalds is working towards finding ways to better engage and interact with its customers and with activist groups to helps resolve issues before they become a disruption.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth McGuire, director of global operations planning at Harbison Walker International Inc., which manufactures and distributes refractory products, said that one of the major disruptions the company is currently dealing with is tariffs.

McGuire said Harbison Walker is always watching and listening to what is going on from a socioeconomic and global perspective. “We source globally for our raw materials, and when were not engaged in understanding those disruptions, it has a direct impact on how much materials we are having to go into risk buying on,” she said.

McGuire also said Harbison Walker works to build relationships on the customer side to gain bigger influence in Washington.

She said that Harbison Walker talks with competitors “so that we can work to leverage together that partnership with the lobbyists so that its not coming from just one business, but its coming from the market.”

Jonathan Biggert, vice president of supply chain at the European Wax Center, said that transparency and communication is key to combating supply chain disruption.

He said that when European Wax Center knows there is going to be a supply chain disruption, it tries to get that information quickly from its carriers so it can communicate it out to store level franchisees, allowing them to potentially cross-share supplies.

Biggert noted the importance of preventing against running out of stock of important items, and instead, carrying an excessive amount of essential items.

“Communicating as early as possible internally and externally really does help to save the day,” he said.



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