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Measuring COVID-19’s Impact on the World’s Supply Chains

March 25, 2020
The Institute of Supply Management reveals the results of its first survey focused on COVID-19 and its short- and long-term impacts on the world’s supply chains.

As COVID-19 continues to pummel the world’s highly-interconnected supply chains, groups like the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) are trying to wrap their arms around the short- and long-term impacts of this worldwide outbreak.

In its first survey focused on COVID-19, ISM looked specifically at the business and supply chain impacts. It found that nearly 75% of companies are already reporting supply chain disruptions in some capacity due to coronavirus-related transportation restrictions. And more than 80% believe their organizations will experience some impact because of COVID-19 disruptions.

Of those companies, ISM says that one in six (16%) report adjusting revenue targets downward an average of 5.6% due to the coronavirus.

“The story the data tells is that companies are faced with a lengthy recovery to normal operations in the wake of the virus outbreak,” said ISM CEO Thomas W. Derry in a press release.

“For a majority of U.S. businesses,” Derry continued, “lead times have doubled, and that shortage is compounded by the shortage of air and ocean freight options to move product to the United States—even if they can get orders filled.”

Tracking Key Procurement Trends

Breaking down the results of its survey, ISM says these key trends emerged:

  • 57% of firms noted longer lead times for Tier 1, China-sourced components, with average lead times more than doubling compared to the end of 2019.
  • Manufacturers in China report operating at 50% capacity and with 56% of their normal staff numbers.
  • Over 44% of respondents do not have a plan in place to address supply disruption from China.
  • Of those, 23% of companies report current disruptions.
  • Of the companies expecting supply chain impacts, the severity anticipated increases after the first quarter of 2020.
  • Six in 10 (62%) respondents are experiencing delays in receiving orders from China.
  • More than half (53%) are having difficulty getting supply chain information from China.
  • Nearly one-half of companies surveyed are experiencing delays moving goods within China (48%).
  • Almost one-half (46%) report delays loading goods at Chinese ports.

Stay Tuned for More

Conducted between Feb. 22 and March 5, ISM’s survey was based on 628 respondents largely representing U.S. manufacturing (52%) and non-manufacturing (48%) organizations, 81% of which have revenues of less than $10 billion (USD). Respondent roles range from emerging practitioner (4%), to chief procurement officer (6%), with 73% being experienced practitioners, managers and directors in a supply chain management role, ISM reports.

The group says it’s going to continue tracking the key trends related to supply chain and procurement in the coming weeks. For now, it appears that those firms that took steps last year to mitigate the impacts of higher tariffs stand a better chance of overcoming the supply chain challenges presented by COVID-19.

“We’re seeing that organizations [that] diversified their supplier base after experiencing tariff impacts are potentially more equipped to address the effects of COVID-19 on their supply chains,” Derry said. 

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