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Standards Support a New Generation of Supply Chains

7/29/2021

During the COVID-19 pandemic, American consumers felt the impact of a global supply chain disruption in a way they had never before. Household items like toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, and hand sanitizer flew off the shelves faster than stores could restock, and companies already strained by increased demand struggled with borders shutting down and a decreased labor force.

Then, in March 2021, a ship got stuck in the Suez Canal, blocking all other ships from passing through. This blockage held up an estimated $9.6 billion in goods per day, a major disruption not only to the global supply chain but also to the global economy.

This is all to say that supply chain, a process normally operating behind-the-scenes, is now getting its moment in the spotlight. At the end of 2020, Ernst and Young surveyed 200 senior-level supply chain executives and published their three key findings. These findings paint a picture of a supply chain ready for a change, with 61% of respondents saying they will retrain and reskill their workforce in the next year, focusing on helping workers use digital technologies, adapt to changing company strategies and ways of working like increased virtual collaboration, and assist people in operating equipment with health and safety in mind. The emergence of autonomous technology is on the minds of supply chain executives as well. Fifty-two percent of executives said that the autonomous supply chain (e.g., robots in warehouses and stores, driverless forklifts and trucks, delivery drones and fully automated planning) is either here or will be by 2025.

How Do Standards Support Supply Chains?

The most important part of any supply chain is its security, from people to goods to technology. From beginning to end, any breach in security could be potentially devastating. ISO 28000:2007, Specification For Security Management Systems For The Supply Chain, specifies the requirements for a security management system, including those aspects critical to security assurance of the supply chain. This standard is a part of ISO 28000, Supply Chain Security Management Systems Package, which establishes a security system that will protect people, goods, infrastructure, equipment and transportation against security incidents and other potentially devastating situations. The North American Security Products Organization (NASPO) administers the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee 292, Security and Resilience, which developed ISO 28000. ANSI is the U.S. member body to ISO.

While delivering a complete product to a consumer is an important part of the supply chain, for goods that must be assembled, that can’t happen until all the different parts to assemble the product are sourced. Electronics, such as computer and cell phones, are made up of so many small parts working together, and the more parts a product has, the more complex it can be to keep track of all the parts. IPC 1782A-2020, Standard For Manufacturing And Supply Chain Traceability Of Electronic Products, establishes minimum requirements for manufacturing and supply chain traceability based on perceived risk. IPC-1782A applies to all products, processes, assemblies, parts, components, equipment and other items used in the manufacture of printed board assemblies and in mechanical assembly. IPC – the Association Connecting Electronics Industries, an ANSI-accredited standards developer, developed this standard.

The COVID-19 pandemic underscores the importance of electrical equipment and medical imaging technology, and due to the nature of these products, it’s important that they function properly and are free from bugs, malware, or viruses. If the future of supply chain is truly digital and autonomous, there is an increased information technology risk. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, recently published the revision to a supply chain best practices white paper. NEMA CPSP 1-2021, Supply Chain Best Practices, identifies a recommended set of supply chain best practices and guidelines that electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers can implement during product development to minimize the possibility that bugs, malware, viruses, or other exploits can be used to negatively impact product operation.

As the world emerges from the pandemic, there’s a lot of talk about going “back to normal” but it’s clear that supply chain is looking towards a new normal that is more resilient than ever before. This past year has taught us so many lessons about how interconnected and dependent we are on one another to ensure everyone’s needs are met globally. Standards support and help us achieve this interconnectedness and resilience. 

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