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    到底該如何應對供應鏈危機?

    到底該如何應對供應鏈危機?

    KATHRYN JUDGE 2022-08-11
    新冠疫情破壞了支撐全球貿易的復雜供應鏈,但如果解決方案會增加這種復雜性,結果只會適得其反。

    圖片來源:JEFF GRITCHEN—MEDIANEWS GROUP/奧蘭治縣登記處/蓋蒂圖片社

    一直以來,代表供應鏈危機最明顯的信號是人們需要等待很長時間才能收到自己買的沙發。目前,供應鏈崩潰導致人們很難買到醫學檢測試劑、嬰兒配方奶粉,甚至在某些地方人們購買食物也面臨困難。

    供應鏈挑戰還導致美國出現40年最高的通脹率。一種錯誤的觀點認為,供應鏈將很快自行恢復正常,這種觀點導致美聯儲沒有及時采取措施應對通脹?,F在所有人都感覺經濟拮據,有人陷入了嚴重危機。

    然而,目前為了應對危機和盡快恢復“正?!彼龅呐?,可能只會令問題惡化,造成更長期的損害。無論是疫情還是俄烏沖突,都不是當前存在的諸多問題的根本原因。相反,這些沖擊只是暴露了數十年來因為供應鏈復雜性而持續存在的根本弱點。無論對于公司、政策制定者還是全社會來說,想要對供應鏈進行修修補補,使其恢復到2019年的狀態,都不可能成功。

    最近用于診斷和治療心臟病、癌癥等疾病的醫用染料供應不足,凸顯了這個問題。為了最大程度降低成本,許多醫院的染料供應依賴一家供應商,但他們并沒有考慮到這種單一依賴會導致他們非常脆弱。結果通用電氣醫療(GE Healthcare)的一家上海工廠因為疫情停工,導致美國各地的醫院出現了供應短缺。其他生產商和醫院要滿足自己客戶和患者的需求,因此拒絕與這些醫院共享。醫院和醫生都試圖確認供應短缺將持續多長時間,各地的患者則因此推遲了治療。

    在疫情之初,汽車廠商削減了半導體訂單,當時他們也認為這是正確的做法。面對不確定性,通過削減成本維持公司利潤,似乎是謹慎之舉。然而,他們在削減成本的同時,卻讓他們所依賴的供應商失去了收入。雙方的關系因此受到了傷害,導致半導體產量下降,無法滿足汽車廠商的需求。據估計,汽車廠商僅2021年因此付出的代價就高達2,100億美元,遠高于他們所節約的成本。汽車產量下降也是導致2021年通脹快速上升的主要原因之一。

    只注重短期效益的行為并不罕見,但今天相互交織的全球化供應鏈形成了一個復雜的生態系統,如果一家公司被嵌入到這個生態系統當中,這種短視行為的后果將被放大。

    系統的復雜性意味著大多數制造商只能了解到一小部分風險。例如,當汽車廠商減少半導體訂單時,許多廠商并未意識到半導體廠商能夠多快恢復生產規模,結果也低估了他們可能面臨的風險嚴重程度。

    這種復雜性還限制了公司合作減少供應鏈破壞和防止進一步損失的能力。例如,上海工廠在停工后幾周內就成功大幅增加了醫用染料產量,因此供應并沒有受到太大沖擊。但由于系統的復雜性,并且每家醫院甚至監管部門只能管中窺豹,因此沒有人知道或者相信產品供應是充足的。這經常會導致囤貨以及其他恐慌反應,只會令問題更加惡化。

    為了解決供應鏈的缺點所做的許多努力,都遺漏了一個宏觀的問題:復雜的供應鏈和不完整的信息如何加劇供應鏈的脆弱性。結果,一些用意良好的“解決方案”只會適得其反。

    例如,許多公司目前嘗試解決供應鏈問題的做法是從供應鏈轉向供應網。如果一家供應商出現問題,從多個地區和公司采購原材料,可以降低風險,但也會增加整個系統的復雜性。系統越復雜只會變得更加不透明,使公司或政策制定者很難及時發現系統漏洞。

    多方外包也會削弱供應鏈各方之間的關系,增加各方合作的難度,而面對疫情、自然災害或者戰爭的沖擊,各方通力合作通常是減少破壞的關鍵。當所有供應商同時受到影響時,多方外包無法提供保護。多方外包可能是一個經過深思熟慮的長期解決方案的一部分,是最容易執行的權宜之計,但它也可能讓事情變得更糟。

    如果說我們從過去幾年得到了哪些啟示,那就是意外總是會發生,并且會造成傷害。為了確定應對下一次沖擊所需要的投資類型和風險管理策略,關鍵的第一步是認識到當前系統的復雜性,以及這種復雜性如何導致當前的挑戰。(財富中文網)

    本文作者凱瑟琳·賈奇為哥倫比亞法學院(Columbia Law School )哈維·J·戈德施密德法律教授,著有《直銷:中間商經濟的崛起與溯源的力量》(Direct: The Rise of the Middleman Economy and the Power of Going to the Source)一書。

    本文僅代表作者本人的觀點,并不代表《財富》雜志的觀點。

    譯者:劉進龍

    審校:汪皓

    一直以來,代表供應鏈危機最明顯的信號是人們需要等待很長時間才能收到自己買的沙發。目前,供應鏈崩潰導致人們很難買到醫學檢測試劑、嬰兒配方奶粉,甚至在某些地方人們購買食物也面臨困難。

    供應鏈挑戰還導致美國出現40年最高的通脹率。一種錯誤的觀點認為,供應鏈將很快自行恢復正常,這種觀點導致美聯儲沒有及時采取措施應對通脹?,F在所有人都感覺經濟拮據,有人陷入了嚴重危機。

    然而,目前為了應對危機和盡快恢復“正?!彼龅呐?,可能只會令問題惡化,造成更長期的損害。無論是疫情還是俄烏沖突,都不是當前存在的諸多問題的根本原因。相反,這些沖擊只是暴露了數十年來因為供應鏈復雜性而持續存在的根本弱點。無論對于公司、政策制定者還是全社會來說,想要對供應鏈進行修修補補,使其恢復到2019年的狀態,都不可能成功。

    最近用于診斷和治療心臟病、癌癥等疾病的醫用染料供應不足,凸顯了這個問題。為了最大程度降低成本,許多醫院的染料供應依賴一家供應商,但他們并沒有考慮到這種單一依賴會導致他們非常脆弱。結果通用電氣醫療(GE Healthcare)的一家上海工廠因為疫情停工,導致美國各地的醫院出現了供應短缺。其他生產商和醫院要滿足自己客戶和患者的需求,因此拒絕與這些醫院共享。醫院和醫生都試圖確認供應短缺將持續多長時間,各地的患者則因此推遲了治療。

    在疫情之初,汽車廠商削減了半導體訂單,當時他們也認為這是正確的做法。面對不確定性,通過削減成本維持公司利潤,似乎是謹慎之舉。然而,他們在削減成本的同時,卻讓他們所依賴的供應商失去了收入。雙方的關系因此受到了傷害,導致半導體產量下降,無法滿足汽車廠商的需求。據估計,汽車廠商僅2021年因此付出的代價就高達2,100億美元,遠高于他們所節約的成本。汽車產量下降也是導致2021年通脹快速上升的主要原因之一。

    只注重短期效益的行為并不罕見,但今天相互交織的全球化供應鏈形成了一個復雜的生態系統,如果一家公司被嵌入到這個生態系統當中,這種短視行為的后果將被放大。

    系統的復雜性意味著大多數制造商只能了解到一小部分風險。例如,當汽車廠商減少半導體訂單時,許多廠商并未意識到半導體廠商能夠多快恢復生產規模,結果也低估了他們可能面臨的風險嚴重程度。

    這種復雜性還限制了公司合作減少供應鏈破壞和防止進一步損失的能力。例如,上海工廠在停工后幾周內就成功大幅增加了醫用染料產量,因此供應并沒有受到太大沖擊。但由于系統的復雜性,并且每家醫院甚至監管部門只能管中窺豹,因此沒有人知道或者相信產品供應是充足的。這經常會導致囤貨以及其他恐慌反應,只會令問題更加惡化。

    為了解決供應鏈的缺點所做的許多努力,都遺漏了一個宏觀的問題:復雜的供應鏈和不完整的信息如何加劇供應鏈的脆弱性。結果,一些用意良好的“解決方案”只會適得其反。

    例如,許多公司目前嘗試解決供應鏈問題的做法是從供應鏈轉向供應網。如果一家供應商出現問題,從多個地區和公司采購原材料,可以降低風險,但也會增加整個系統的復雜性。系統越復雜只會變得更加不透明,使公司或政策制定者很難及時發現系統漏洞。

    多方外包也會削弱供應鏈各方之間的關系,增加各方合作的難度,而面對疫情、自然災害或者戰爭的沖擊,各方通力合作通常是減少破壞的關鍵。當所有供應商同時受到影響時,多方外包無法提供保護。多方外包可能是一個經過深思熟慮的長期解決方案的一部分,是最容易執行的權宜之計,但它也可能讓事情變得更糟。

    如果說我們從過去幾年得到了哪些啟示,那就是意外總是會發生,并且會造成傷害。為了確定應對下一次沖擊所需要的投資類型和風險管理策略,關鍵的第一步是認識到當前系統的復雜性,以及這種復雜性如何導致當前的挑戰。(財富中文網)

    本文作者凱瑟琳·賈奇為哥倫比亞法學院(Columbia Law School )哈維·J·戈德施密德法律教授,著有《直銷:中間商經濟的崛起與溯源的力量》(Direct: The Rise of the Middleman Economy and the Power of Going to the Source)一書。

    本文僅代表作者本人的觀點,并不代表《財富》雜志的觀點。

    譯者:劉進龍

    審校:汪皓

    For a while, the most visible signs of a supply-chain crisis were people having to wait a long time for a new couch. Today, supply-chain breakdowns are standing in the way of access to medical testing, infant formula, and, in some parts of the world, food.

    Supply-chain challenges have also contributed to the highest inflation the U.S. has experienced in 40 years. A misguided belief that supply chains would soon heal themselves contributed to the Federal Reserve falling behind the curve in its efforts to combat inflation. Everyone is now feeling the pinch, and some are downright suffering.

    However, the current efforts to Band-Aid over the crises and get back to “normal” as quickly as possible could just exacerbate the problem and cause more long-run damage. Neither the pandemic nor Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused the problems that are now on display. Rather, those shocks revealed fundamental weaknesses that had been decades in the making because of the complexity of our supply chains. Patching up supply chains in hopes of returning to 2019 would not be a success, for companies, policymakers, or society.

    Recent shortages of medical dyes used to diagnose and treat heart disease, cancer, and other ailments illustrate the problem. To minimize costs, many hospitals became reliant on a single provider for their dyes, yet they failed to understand how that reliance left them vulnerable. As a result, when a wave of COVID-19 infections caused a Shanghai plant of GE Healthcare to shut down, hospitals across the U.S. faced shortages. Other producers and hospitals, concerned about serving their own customers and patients, refused to share. Patients across the country had procedures delayed as hospitals and doctors tried to figure out how long the shortage would last.

    Automakers similarly thought they were doing the right thing when they slashed orders for semiconductors at the onset of the pandemic. Cutting costs in the face of uncertainty to buffer their bottom line seemed like the prudent move. However, in cutting their costs, they also denied revenue to the suppliers on which they depend. This harmed those relationships and discouraged production of the semiconductors that automakers need, ultimately costing them $210 billion in 2021 alone, according to one estimate, much more than the amounts they had saved. The dearth of vehicles was also a major contributor to the rapid onset of inflation that year.

    Short-termism is nothing new, but the consequences are magnified when a company is embedded in a complex ecosystem of the kind created by today’s intertwining, globalized supply chains.

    The complexity of these systems means most producers understand only a fraction of the risks to which they are exposed. For example, when carmakers cut back on semiconductors, many failed to realize how quickly producers would scale back production—and hence the magnitude of the risk they were taking.

    This complexity also limits the ability of companies to work together to minimize disruptions and prevent further damage. For example, the Shanghai plant managed to substantially increase medical dye production within a few weeks of its closure, so the total supply didn’t take that big of a hit. But due to the complexity of the system and the fact that each hospital—and even regulators—had only a partial view of it, no one knew or trusted that there was enough stock to go around. This contributed to the usual hoarding and other panicked responses, which just exacerbate the problem.

    Many efforts to address supply-chain weaknesses miss this bigger picture: How complex supply chains and incomplete information breed new sources of fragility. As a result, well-intentioned “solutions” could just make things worse.

    For example, many companies are now trying to address weaknesses in their supply chains by transforming those chains into webs. Sourcing key inputs from multiple places and companies can reduce the risk should problems emerge with one supplier, but it also makes the overall system far more complex. Introducing even more complexity will only accentuate the opacity that makes it so hard for companies or policymakers to identify vulnerabilities in a timely manner.

    Multisourcing can also weaken relationships along the supply chain, making it even harder to achieve the cooperation that is often key to minimizing disruptions in the face of a new shock—be it a pandemic, a natural disaster, or a war. Multisourcing provides no protection against shocks that hit all suppliers simultaneously. While it can be part of a thoughtful, long-term solution, deployed as the most readily available Band-Aid, multisourcing could also make things worse.

    If we have learned anything from the last few years, it’s that the unexpected can happen—and it can hurt. Recognizing the complexity of the current system, and the ways that complexity contributed to the current challenges, is the key first step in identifying the type of investment and risk management strategies needed to guard against the next shock.

    Kathryn Judge is the Harvey J. Goldschmid Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and the author of Direct: The Rise of the Middleman Economy and the Power of Going to the Source.

    The opinions expressed in Fortune.com commentary pieces are solely the views of their authors and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of Fortune.

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