Knowledge is power

From the December 2021 print edition

Each year, we focus our December issue of Supply Professional on sustainability. While always important to the supply chain and procurement fields, this year the topic takes on more urgency.

First off, the COP26 Conference – the 26th UN climate change conference – wrapped up in Glasgow, Scotland last month. The process saw 197 countries agree to a new deal, the Glasgow Climate Pact, aimed at curbing climate change.

As well, several weather events have recently disrupted Canadian supply chains. For example, rainfall, floods and mudslides have thrown transportation in British Columbia into disarray (to say nothing of upending people’s lives) while our East Coast has also grappled with torrential rains that have damaged several roads in Maritime Provinces like Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Yet mitigating climate change’s worst effects, to the extent that’s possible, will be a long-term project for all levels of government. We can’t easily halt greenhouse gas emissions or the rise of average temperatures. But we can take quicker steps to bolster our infrastructure and make supply chains more resilient.

There’s talk among some of stepping away from a just-in-time supply chain model or lean manufacturing towards systems that can absorb more of the shock that comes from unexpected events. Other steps, like risk analysis and expanding an organization’s supply base, can also prove useful in blunting climate change risks.

With that in mind, we’ve approached sustainability in this issue through a holistic lens.
For example, our In The Field column on page 6 looks at steps that supply chain leaders can take to fight human rights abuses.

Making supply chains more equitable also helps to extend benefits into local communities. See our article on page 13 for a discussion of the benefits of social procurement. Among other areas, author Larry Berglund highlights how a well-designed policy can bolster social procurement efforts.

Industrial lighting has advanced since the days of incandescent bulbs, and our story on page 20 looks at the business case for switching to LED lighting in supply chain and manufacturing facilities.

Our fleet management section, starting on page 23, also tackles sustainability in the automotive space. We feature a roundup of recent electric vehicles on the market, test drive the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid and look at alternative fuels available to help power your fleet.

Climate change will no doubt continue to affect many aspects of our daily lives in the coming years, and supply chains are no exception.

But in the face of challenges, knowledge is power, and we hope that this issue provides you with some of that knowledge.

Finally, this is also the last issue of the year, and 2021 has been almost as tumultuous as 2020. So, here’s to a more predictable 2022. Have a great Holiday Season and a Happy New Year!

Michael Power is editor of Supply Professional magazine.