One of the biggest issues today is how much product the United States sources from overseas, in particular single-sourcing (relying on one country or one manufacturer) instead of having multiple sources.
The low costs of single-sourcing can be desirable but risky, too. Cons include poor quality items or having your inventory shut down or limited for any reason, including an emergency.
I think the debate will rage as to whether a country like the United States wants to be that dependent on China or any one other country for what will be deemed socially-necessary products like antibiotics and PPE, and so on. I think that’s coming.
As globalization has increased, so has the desire to reduce the cost of overall logistics. He says when China entered the World Trade Organization in 2001, the rush was on from countries around the world to source more cheaply.
If you can manufacture something in China for a third of the price that you can manufacture it wherever else you were getting it, people went with that sourcing, because the quality was there and you control it. And, now you’ve got so much of it that was over there. All of a sudden, you’re dependent upon a country for 96 percent of your drugs.
When the United States or any other country becomes dependent on sourcing from one company or one country, it can be problematic for your supply chain credibility and health.
You might have lowered your costs, but now you’ve increased your risk associated with your ability to get necessary products when you need them, when you have a crisis like this. This issue of single-sourcing will continue through this election year and beyond.
CSCMP, which has chapters worldwide, provides networking, career development, and educational opportunities to the logistics and supply chain management community. We care about supply chain and we care about how to do it right.
My colleagues and I give presentations to high school and college students, encouraging them to join this exciting industry. There are about six jobs for every supply chain graduate coming out of our university system. It’s a destination career.
While supply chain jobs include truck drivers and warehousing, there are many other opportunities in supply chain management. The industry has become very sophisticated with data gathering and artificial intelligence. All of these jobs have a huge impact on our economy and how countries trade.
No substitute for experience
These days many universities offer logistics and supply chain programs. I recommend looking for a program that has a long and distinctive history, great professors, and study abroad programs.
CSCMP also offers a three-tiered certification program that assesses progressive knowledge and skills across integrated supply chain activities.
Next, students need to start working in the industry.
There’s no replacement for experience. Go work in manufacturing or in customer service or an inventory of transportation; really learn what really goes on at a distribution center on third shift. Follow a box of inventory as it goes through the supply chain; you really understand how things work.
More than ever, consumers value the supply chain. E-commerce has been booming in recent years, and during the pandemic, household and grocery items have been in demand.
The supply chain makes that happen.