The past 24 months of the pandemic have cemented how important it is to have solutions to supply chain issues, so companies can continue working with flexibility and agility in the face of challenges. Congestion, port closures and disruption have caused delays and bottlenecking that has been felt through every link of the supply chain, from producer to supplier to consumer, with shelves physically and proverbially empty at times.

Keeping shelves stocked in trying times

At Maersk’s 2022 Supply Chain Management Forum (the first of its kind in two years) that was the main topic: how can we keep shelves stocked during trying times. A subject that had affected everyone throughout the pandemic, be it on a smaller or larger scale, the forum had the pleasure of hearing from Maersk experts, Vincent Clerc, CEO of Ocean and Logistics; Karsten Kildahl, regional managing director of Europe; Birna Ödefors, managing director of Scandinavia; Jacob Sterling, Head of Decarbonisation – Innovation & Business Development and Julia Heil, Head of Logistics and Services Decarbonisation. Additionally, the forum also had the pleasure of welcoming industry experts, Dr. Thomas Liske, Global Logistics Director at PUMA and Jesper Rangvid, Professor of Finance at Copenhagen Business School, guest speakers that gave insights into real-world examples and experiences.

The forum highlighted how supply chains can be strengthened by diving into the untapped potential of integrated logistics, shoring them up when faced with short- and longer-term disruptions. Throughout the day, multiple angles and areas were focused on, with three key take-aways standing at the forefront of the forum.

Supply chains are living ecosystems

One of the key insights gathered during the last 24+ months, is that companies have shifted their focus from being solely interested in cost saving expenditures, to being more focused on infusing agility and flexibility into each link. The direct and indirect effects of past events during that last two years have stressed supply chains, revealing that earlier choices to optimise supply chains for cost only, leave room for vulnerability.

Supply chains are living ecosystems

The old paradigm of focusing on just-in time, accurate forecasting and optimising cost is outdated, and handle shocks like disruptions, delays and bottlenecking badly. The successful supply chain of today integrates agility, resilience, flexibility, and integration into each link, ensuring that business outcomes are fruitful.

Whilst it is impossible to ascertain what the future holds, we can help future-proof supply chains. Supply chains have earlier been a chain of separate entities, resulting in a transactional and at times, fragile chain. This has made it difficult for companies to remain agile and challenge ready, as companies have purchased different aspects of their supply chains in silos, making it difficult for companies to maintain a clear overview of situations and developments.

By partnering with an integrated logistics partner, where all your logistics needs are met by one partner, flexibility, agility and reliability is easier to ensure in your supply chain, as solutions to disruptive challenges are already in place.

Partnership is key

Problems are best solved together. A key example of this is Maersk’s partnership with PUMA. Dr. Thomas Liske, Global Logistics Director at PUMA, who spoke at the forum, pointed out that the key to keeping their “shelves” filled throughout the difficult periods of the last two years, has been done by teaming up with the right partner.

Through constructive communication, where both parties were able to signify what they needed to ensure the best results of the relationship, growth came. This allowed for assets to be utilised to the optimal level, for structures and process to be streamlined, more visibility on logistical issues and a clear understanding of the situation overall.

Partnership is key

By making a partnership a priority, Maersk and PUMA could work together to create the best logistics network, drive efficiency and support PUMA’s business and partners around the world.

Additionally, the past two years have also highlighted how important assets are. Whilst the logistical industry continues to make strides with the technological world, through apps, platforms and products, the most important component is assets and people.

People, operational control of assets, and digital solutions are what ensure that companies can fill their “shelves”. By combining the three, we can make a huge impact for logistics networks and supply chains.

The future is greener

Another key take-away is the importance of investing and developing sustainable solutions. Whilst shipping is the most energy efficient way to move goods, shipping is also responsible for 3% of global CO2 emissions. This is problematic, and something Maersk takes seriously, not just for itself, but also for our customers. To this, Maersk pledges to, by 2030, reduce 50% of carbon intensity on ocean products, with 25 % of all cargo transported on green fuel. Terminals are expected to have 70% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and a minimum of 30% of cargo transported by air will use sustainable aviation fuel. Warehouses and depots will be minimum of 90% green operations and inland transport will follow industry leading green offerings.

The future is greener

However, this move is not as simple as just choosing to make a change. As a green industry doesn’t exist, it has needed to be built first, and continues to need to be developed further. However, it is an area the world is excited about, and Maersk is continually finding partners that can assist in the creation of green fuel sources.

Maersk’s pledge to reach Zero CO2 Emissions by 2050, is well underway, with the first pilot scale carbon neutral feeder vessel to be launched in 2023, and 12 large carbon neutral container ships to be launched in 2024. Continued development in this field means our customers will continue to be able to ensure that they are taking the necessary steps to work with a sustainable partner and offer their customers and consumers greener options.

Next steps

Whilst no one can know what the future holds, we know that disruptive challenges are not a thing of the past. Regardless of whether it's a natural or man-made disaster, preparation is key. The best way to weather unexpected storms is together. By understanding and preparing for disruptions, on smaller and larger scale, we can help minimise the effects on supply chains.

Sustainability will continue to be a growing concern for both consumers and producers. It is an interest that will continue to grow. By partnering with an integrated logistics partner that proactively works towards creating solutions to this, you can meet your consumers’ and customers’ needs before they voice them, as well as offer them alternative solutions.

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