The future of supply chains: diversifying risk and strengthening U.S. manufacturing

The pandemic has exposed flaws in many processes and the strain it has put on supply chains is no exception. Supply chains are being monitored more closely than ever this year. To be successful, it’s essential for businesses to regularly review their supply chain strategies.

CEO Mary Buchzeiger believes the key to this success lies in diversifying supply chains. Part of this step involves bringing more manufacturing back to the United States in an effort to strengthen our supply chains and provide the U.S. with greater opportunity in our globalized society.

Buchzeiger has seen the need firsthand for changes in the way supply chains and manufacturing is done. She’s outfitted Lucerne’s approach to optimize their global strategy and sees more localized manufacturing as a factor of that.

“This is a global society and we need to continue to take advantage of the benefits behind that,” she said. “But expanding and maintaining manufacturing in the U.S. is just as important.”

Chief Operating Officer, David Okonoski shares Buchzeiger’s concerns that a lack of U.S. based manufacturing could harm supply chains. There are risks to investing anywhere, such as tariffs and evolving leadership. But risk can be mitigated by diversifying to have supply flow from multiple areas.

“At the end of the day, it’s about diversifying your risk,” said Okonoski, “By not putting all of your eggs in one basket, when a tariff harms supply flow, there isn’t an immediate clog in the line.”

Buchzeiger gave the example of the PPE shortage the country experienced early on in the pandemic, something she witnessed first-hand with her venture Sure Solutions PPE. In a situation such as the recent shortage, having PPE manufactured on home soil would have provided reliable access to the essential products, instead of being beholden to an overseas supply timeline and the obstacles that brings.

She says this risk can be best diversified by giving all members of a supply chain complete visibility of the supply chain. Being aware of the process above and below your piece in the chain can help you understand where your bottlenecks are and where potential problems lie. This watch tower approach leads to an overall more productive and successful supply chain.

“It’s important to be less sensitive of where the plant is at and more sensitive of where the risks lie,” said Okonoski. “However, mitigating that risk might entail moving the plant.”

Both Buchzeiger and Okonoski say any manufacturing process is about driving continued improvement and with that comes product innovation. Having more localized manufacturing will stimulate innovation in this country.

“Globalization isn’t going backwards. It will continue to expand and grow,” said Buchzeiger. “We can be a part of that expansion by bringing more manufacturing and opportunities to the U.S., so it’s targeted in the same way as China or India.”