Over the past two years, the shortfalls and risks in the global supply chains have been front and center in the family dining rooms, company boardrooms, and even in presidential briefing rooms. As a result, supply chains are recognized more so as an opportunity to see growth, success, and business survival rather than just the opportunity to reduce costs.
As we are in mid-2022, with rapid changes and rampant uncertainty due to the COVID-19 variants, the Russian-Ukraine crisis, and other market issues, what can we expect for the next 12 months?
It comes down to four main themes – Technology, Visibility, Sustainability, and Resiliency.
Industry 4.0 is expected to ramp up in 2022 as AI and machine learning use volumes of IoT-based and social media data from vehicles, products, assets, devices, and people across the supply chain to automate processes and decisions.
A significant focus on visibility has been there in 2022. The focus is on improving visibility to collect, consolidate and consume data and insights in real-time from across the supply chain.
Sustainability, ESG, circular economy, and climate change have become business priorities over the past few years. The primary thing is that our global supply chain sits right in the middle of these challenges, both as a significant contributor to the problems and as one great area of focus where we can take action to address the problems.
For the past 20 months, the word everyone uses to describe what is needed has been resiliency. Experts predicted continued disruptions in the short term, with challenges around demand and supply, labor shortages, and cargo ships. According to the Wall Street Journal, about 45% of economists believed it would take until the second half of 2022 to improve.
Issues that impact the supply chain of steel, nickel, and other metals
It is likely for the supply chain to get disrupted due to the issues which impact globally. Here are the top two of them:
As the world continues to take tentative steps towards the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, one global issue remains quite much on the horizon even to this day.
The disruption to the supply chains inflicted by the virus outbreak will result in a drop-off in industrial activity as it has failed to ease with absolute conviction. It means that 2022 and beyond will remain challenging for several global goods markets.
The trouble for the global supply chain was disrupted during the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces on February 22nd and made matters much worse. Almost from its inception, the war caught many commodity markets and trades in its crosshairs, including those with several crucial metals.
Ukraine is one of the world’s 13th largest steel producers and the fifth-largest exporter of iron ore by volume at 44.4 million tons in 2021. In addition, both countries are major players in the palladium, nickel, and titanium trades.
Steel shipments from Mariupol have represented 25% of Ukraine’s exports in recent years. However, Ukraine’s Met investment, a steel and mining group, had to suspend the production of two steel plants in Mariupol at the war’s outset, sending steelmakers in the European Union, Egypt, Turkey, and the US scrambling for other sources of raw material.
The above factors significantly pressured the supply chains as nickel prices soared. As a result, it caused severe damage to the global nickel market and related downstream and upstream industries. The nickel prices severely deviated from the fundamentals and lost their guiding significance for spot prices.
Looking at the future ahead
LSPs and importers will likely face a frustrating, expensive, disrupted, and congested 2022. They must strategically consider the longer-term impacts of the ongoing crisis in global shipping but on a more positive note, logistic and supply chain leaders who master the art of finding the opportunities in uncertainty do more with less.
Building customer-facing and environment-friendly supply chains will guide the organizations through the turbulence of future and current disruptions.
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