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  • Gary Pine

Understanding Supply Chain Risk Overlays

Updated: Jul 25, 2023

In an increasingly interconnected world, supply chains are becoming more complex and vulnerable to a range of risks. To successfully navigate these complexities and protect their operations, companies are turning to a new tool: supply chain risk overlays.

What Are Supply Chain Risk Overlays?

Supply chain risk overlays are an essential element of modern supply chain management. They provide an additional layer of information that can be applied to the 'digital twin' of a supply chain network to identify and analyse potential risks and disruptions. By using these overlays, companies can make more informed decisions to mitigate risks, increase resilience, and ensure the efficient operation of their supply chain.

Key Types of Supply Chain Risk Overlays

In the intricate world of supply chain management, there are several types of risk overlays that can be applied to ensure smooth operations and mitigate potential challenges. Firstly, there are operational risks which revolve around the day-to-day management of the supply chain, such as transportation delays or machinery breakdowns.

Then, there are financial risks, which can be related to fluctuations in currency rates, unexpected price increases, or the insolvency of a key supplier. Environmental risks encompass issues such as natural disasters, political upheaval, or even pandemics that can disrupt the supply chain at any given point. Technological risks, in our digitised age, pertain to cybersecurity threats, software malfunctions, or integration challenges.

Lastly, reputational risks focus on the potential negative publicity a company might face due to supply chain issues. Understanding and applying these overlays helps organisations anticipate, prepare for, and respond to any disruptions that might affect their supply chain network.

Several types of risk overlays can be applied to a supply chain network.

Here are the most significant ones:

Geopolitical Risk Overlay

This overlay highlights the risks associated with political instability, trade wars, tariffs, sanctions, and regulatory changes in countries where the supply chain operates. It helps companies navigate the challenges arising from political climates in nations relevant to their supply chain.

Natural Disaster Risk Overlay

Including data on the likelihood of hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and other natural disasters, this overlay predicts disruptions that could result from these events. This aids in preparedness and allows for the creation of suitable mitigation strategies.

Pandemic/Health Risk Overlay

This overlay assesses the risk of disease outbreaks that could impact the workforce or cause other disruptions. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the crucial importance of this type of risk management.

Supplier Risk Overlay

Information about the financial health, reliability, and integrity of suppliers is crucial. This overlay includes analysis of single-source suppliers or suppliers located in high-risk areas, assisting in more informed supplier selection and management.

Logistical/Transportation Risk Overlay

This overlay looks at risks associated with logistics and transportation, including potential port closures, shipping disruptions, and infrastructure issues. It enables the development of flexible and resilient logistic strategies.

The Value of Supply Chain Risk Overlays

In conclusion, supply chain risk overlays offer a comprehensive understanding of potential risks, helping companies take proactive measures to safeguard their supply chain. They are a valuable tool for modern supply chain management, supporting business continuity and resilience in an increasingly unpredictable world.


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