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How common are supply chain disruptions?

Supply chain executives are responding to disruption with a variety of investments.

A new survey reveals how many businesses have experienced supply chain disruptions in the past year, and of what type.

According to the Blue Yonder 2023 Supply Chain Executives Survey, which polled U.S.-based supply chain executives, (87%) of respondents reported experiencing supply chain disruptions within the last year.

More than half (52%) of respondents cited customer delays as the most frequent outcome. However, more than six in 10 respondents (62%) indicated their supply chains were reliable enough to withstand the pressure.

Supply chain tech trends

More than half (56%) of respondents are making supply chain technology investments, including areas such as warehouse management systems (44%), order management systems (39%), supply chain visibility tools (36%), and transportation management (30%).

And more than three-quarters (78%) of respondents are leveraging artificial intelligence and/or machine learning (AI/ML) in their supply chains, with top use-cases including inventory and network optimization (33%), warehouse resource management (29%), supply chain risk management (26%), and demand forecasting (25%).

These strategic investments in technology have proven to be successful for many respondents, with over half (54%) reporting improved efficiencies, 42% reporting fewer disruptions, and 39% reporting revenue growth.

Inflation causes supply chain issues

The survey also reveals that nearly half (48%) of respondents reported shrinking profit margins over the past six months due to inflation. Areas of the supply chain where respondents reported rising costs include raw materials (43%), inventory (15%), transportation (14%), and labor (14%).

More than four in 10 (42%) respondents reported increased investments in their workforce, up from 40% in 2022. Close to nine in 10 (87%) have implemented new initiatives to stay competitive in a tight labor market, with 51% offering more competitive pay and bonus structures and 40% creating more flexible scheduling options.

Nearly half (47%) of respondents plan to address the tight labor market in the next 12 months by investing in workforce management technology, and another 47% plan to enhance workforce training procedures. One-third of executives (32%) plan to increase automation investment across supply chain networks (i.e., robots).

Sustainable investments  

Sustainability is another avenue of investment for many respondents, with 35% reporting investing in tools that enable greener and more efficient fulfillment options (up from 23% in 2022). Eighty-four percent of respondents plan to amplify or maintain their current sustainability initiatives, and 43% plan to seek more sustainable upstream options.

[Read more: Supply chain executives are meeting these challenges with innovation]

Blue Yonder collected responses from April 10–11, 2023, from more than 300 C-suite and senior executives across manufacturing, retail, 3PL, transportation, planning and warehousing, with responsibility for supply chain and manufacturing operations in the U.S.

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