MxD’s Supply Chain Risk Alert: Preventing Disruption Before It’s Too Late 

The COVID-19 pandemic fractured the global supply chain in many places, with shortages ranging from PPE to semiconductors to consumer products. But even before the turmoil began in spring 2020, supply chains were vulnerable. 

Natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires and other unexpected developments like labor strikes and political unrest have always presented risks for manufacturers and their supply chains.

Identifying and mitigating those risks well before they disrupt production is crucial. That is the goal of MxD’s Supply Chain Risk Alert 2 (SCRA2) project.  

Think about it: If you’re a Michigan manufacturer who relies on parts from the South, you need to know the moment a tornado warning is issued near the factory that supplies you. And you need to start making plans for an alternate supplier. 

With funding from the 2020 CARES Act, MxD’s SCRA2 project set out to develop a middleware platform that could identify risks by mapping and analyzing multi-tiered supply chains, from a manufacturing bill of materials (the BOM).

The SCRA2 project built a prediction module into the platform to proactively identify tactical, operational, and strategic risks, as well as a strategic planning capability to help supply chain managers minimize vulnerabilities.

MxD’s core project team — which included Software AG, Coupa, RAAD, Supply Dynamics, and the Supply Chain Risk Management Consortium (SCRMC) — focused on using off-the-shelf products to deliver a commercially deployable tool.  

The tool securely connects the supply chain map with public and private databases —  ranging from weather reports to news feeds to official health data like government COVID numbers. Once a risk is detected, the tool suggests alternate or indirect suppliers. All of this information is presented on a dashboard.

The project team successfully created a prototype Supply Chain Risk Alert platform in 2022, which was run as a pilot with MxD’s members. Plans are to evaluate and enhance SCRA2 to ensure the platform is deployable. In addition, MxD intends to demo the platform on site at its 22,000-square-foot research factory, used to test and demonstrate new technology. 

Additional features in the platform include Coupa’s artificial intelligence (AI) module that takes existing data and delivers “what if” supply chain risk scenarios and determines various preventative action plans. 

When fully realized, the platform will enable SMMs and OEMs to make data-informed decisions to optimize operations and, in times of crisis, minimize disruptions to production. For instance, making sure medical supplies can get to those who need them, or identifying single-source suppliers or foreign dependencies.

Addressing supply chain risk to strengthen the United States’ resiliency will help position industry, government, and most importantly, the people, to prepare and respond to the next pandemic or natural disaster.

“MxD is able to convene partners and get everyone to pull in one direction, to tackle a real problem — like this one — that everyone faces,” said Federico Sciammarella, MxD’s Chief Technology Officer. “The core team and pilot users said they never would have been able to pull off this project without the help of MxD.” 

“Now we must use this tool to inform others about the power of sharing data to prepare manufacturers to face any problem within their supply chain,” Sciammarella said.

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