A bright New Year

From the December 2020 print edition

It’s been a crazy year. Understandably, the COVID-19 pandemic has dominated headlines, policy and our consciousness for nine months. It has also been the primary challenge supply chain professionals have faced.

There have been other challenges this year, including railway strikes in February and blockades related to the construction of the Coastal GasLink Pipeline through Wet’suwet’en First Nation territory in British Columbia.

Other international events have driven uncertainty. A Ukraine International Airlines plane was tragically shot down on January 8 in Iran – killing 176 people on board including 55 Canadians and 30 permanent residents – stoking uncertainty about wider conflict.
It’s easy to look forward to 2020 ending. Hopefully, 2021 will be brighter.

With that in mind, I’ve given some thought to potential trends we may see in 2021. Below are a few optimistic predictions for the New Year.

Several safe and effective vaccines appear on the way. That will help put the COVID-19 era behind us and hopefully the vast majority of Can­adians are vaccinated by September 2021. The rollout will also provide an interesting case study in logistics and supply chain management.

Continental free trade has been finalized with the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) put into force on July 1. This, along with US president-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next January 20, will offer more predictable trade relationships into the New Year. A new trade deal inked between Canada and Britain is also welcome news and will hopefully provide even more stability.

While risk can never be eliminated, preparation remains important. Risk management will take a more prominent role in managin supply chains. Hopefully, we’ve learned enough from the past several months that organizations will spend time and resources ensuring that risks are adequately dealt with.

Technology will continue to lend a hand in ensuring that supply chains run smoothly. While supply chain professionals will remain vital to run­ning the show, advances in technology can offer opportunities to limit risk, provide valuable data and insights as well as take care of mundane tasks. This will continue to free up supply chain professionals to take on more strategic tasks.

Finally, supply chain will continue to claim its rightful place at the executive table. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that supply chains play a vital role in how the world operates and keeping it running smoothly. Getting PPE and other vital goods to their destinations has been front and centre this year. Supply chain professionals will remain crucial to rolling out COVID-19 vaccines in 2021. Never in peacetime has the field taken such a central, visible role in our health and ensuring a return to normal lives.

These are just some of the more optimistic trends that I see for 2021. Let’s make the most of it. Wishing everyone Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

Michael Power is editor of Supply Professional magazine.