The ability to keep the supply chain flowing during a disaster event is as critical to a manufacturing company as is making product. Unfortunately, Supply Chain Continuity is often much harder to address than “simple” disaster recovery or business continuity. There are simply no quick and painless ways to eliminate dependency on all links in the chain that might be impacted by the same event as you are. And there is no quick and painless way to ensure that your upstream and downstream link’s recovery capabilities address your needs for continuity.

Nevertheless, Supply Chain Continuity is critical to reducing risk… maybe more so than your own business continuity planning efforts considering the many more potential points of failure in the whole chain. The first step is to develop a high level “map” of upstream and downstream supply chain issues that will either complicate continuity efforts or minimize the likelihood and impact of breaks in the chain. For upstream entities, we will identify: logistics for receiving raw materials and products from suppliers, the primary sources and inventories of raw materials (and/or components), pertinent material lead times, the potential and practicality of alternative sourcing; the disaster recovery and business continuity resiliency of key suppliers; the likelihood suppliers will experience the same disaster (supplier isolation and resilience), and any significant logistical constraints. We will also identify how downstream elements (logistics and distribution channels at each production facility; finished goods inventories; warehousing capabilities, practices and constraints; distributor isolation and resilience) determine how long a process can be unavailable before customers are significantly impacted.

By defining each link’s importance to the chain as a whole, insight into the overall continuity requirement will emerge, which in turn will provide the framework for solutioning.