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Partner Content | To navigate ongoing supply-chain bottlenecks, Canada tech companies have to stay nimble


Whether or not it’s lumber to your again patio, microchips that guarantee your automotive’s energy steering works and even your new pair of trainers, a yr and a half into the worldwide pandemic, the ensuing logistical shock wave continues to hamper producers and retailers, inflicting months-long delays and erratic financial instability.

“There’s a tsunami of things going into every little thing from commerce restrictions to surging demand, restricted capability to shutdowns. All of that has drastically affected the availability chain and can proceed to take action for a very long time,” explains Jayson Myers, CEO of the business group Subsequent Technology Manufacturing Canada (NGen).

This shortage has already had clear knock-on results. Based on Statistics Canada, retail gross sales at constructing materials and backyard tools and provides sellers fell 11.3 per cent in March 2021 alone. And whereas the lumber business is experiencing a market correction, a part of the problem going ahead, says Myers, is that new bottlenecks will pop up as demand evolves and contemporary logistical issues come up.

To navigate the challenges introduced on by supply-chain congestion, Canadian know-how corporations have needed to get artistic. In using such ways as pivoting to native suppliers, offering higher tracing telecommunication and dealing with prospects to handle expectations, business innovators Ranovus, OpenText and LED Roadway have been capable of not solely mitigate their potential threat however reap the benefits of the alternatives introduced on by such a disruptive international occasion.

Right here, they clarify how they’ve tailored and what they envision for the long run as international logistics attempt to reset and settle into a brand new regular.

Larger imaginative and prescient via cloud options

Mark Morley is the senior director of product advertising at OpenText, a Waterloo-based firm that develops and sells enterprise data administration software program.

“This black swan occasion has pressured corporations to rethink their provide chains. They’ve needed to restructure, doubtlessly bringing manufacturing and sourcing again to North America moderately than counting on lengthy distance sourcing from China. What we’re seeing is a transfer away from what Toyota calls lean or just-in-time manufacturing to a just-in-case mannequin, as a result of corporations want the additional inventory simply in case one thing goes incorrect.

It’s additionally forcing the hand of CIOs — particularly for small- and mid-sized corporations — to speed up the transfer to cloud options. This provides them the pliability and the agility of their provide chains to fabricate and supply wherever and construct resilience into their operations. That’s the place we are available in.

We assist corporations digitize their provide chain and the knowledge flowing throughout it; eradicating paper and offering a digital spine to combine these disparate sources of knowledge. This permits corporations to get well way more shortly from varied disruptive conditions.

We presently have 80 per cent of Gartner’s Top 25 provide chains (an annual listing of the highest provide chain leaders put out by the worldwide analysis and advisory agency) linked to our community. More and more, corporations are fascinated about one thing referred to as management towers: platforms that permit you to see the place the transactions are, what state the cargo is in, whether or not the bill has been paid and so forth. It permits executives to leverage analytics to foretell or forecast in a a lot better manner issues corresponding to what’s more likely to occur with the ordering of products based mostly on climate situations or pure disasters or the social political unrest in France, for instance. Notably over the subsequent 12 to 24 months, enterprise leaders are going to need improved visibility and improved AI and machine studying, which will probably be extra tightly aligned with provide chain processes.”

Retrenching to North America

Hamid Arabzadeh is the chairman, president and CEO of Ranovus, an Ottawa-based firm creating and manufacturing quantum dot laser know-how to make information centres extra power environment friendly.

“Information centres are the factories of the brand new age within the data-driven economic system. What powers the information centres are semiconductors, and what we do is present the arteries inside the information centre. So should you don’t have a gradual provide of semiconductors or the chips that we construct, it might carry your entire economic system to halt.

For our know-how to operate, we have to have a laser supply and electronics that modulate the wavelength. For our semiconductor and silicon photonics, we’ve moved away from utilizing Asian foundries in favour of U.S.-based ones. We really began this in 2018. As soon as we acquired the sign that there can be a commerce struggle between the U.S. and China, we shortly retrenched and began aligning ourselves with our North American buyer base in addition to hyperscalers and semiconductor corporations in North America.

Likewise, for our laser supply, a number of years again we felt the necessity to change to an area provider primarily because of the geopolitical setting. We partnered with the Nationwide Analysis Council’s CPFC foundry to construct the lasers in Ottawa. Nonetheless, they’re in want of extra capital to have the ability to create backup manufacturing tools for a few of their processes and, in mild of the present pandemic, we skilled some delays in manufacturing. We consider extra funding to go towards eradicating the only level of failure in a manufacturing course of is cash properly spent and we’re working with them to be sure that the safety of provide in that space is roofed.

This will probably be an vital subject for Canadian business within the years to come back. Design and manufacturing of superior elements utilized in crucial purposes is a strategic asset of a rustic. Think about if there have been just one nation who might construct steam engines or, extra importantly, a key element for a steam engine. The world can be dominated and monopolized by that nation, which might lead into an unstable geopolitical panorama, commerce wars and perhaps even actual wars.

I consider it’s a must to repeatedly put money into your logistical strains or they’ll transfer to different prospects who may have extra money or enterprise. It’s a fixed battle to be related so the logistical strains favour you over others on the earth. Our relevance relies on our mental property and our individuals.”

Communication is essential

Jeff Libis is the vice-president of gross sales at LED Roadway Lighting Ltd., a Nova Scotia-based resolution supplier and producer centered on sensible know-how purposes that create secure, environment friendly, livable cities.

“We’re a build-to-order manufacturing firm and, as a result of we’re working in electronics and a variety of our elements come from the Asian market, we began getting alerts from our suppliers for a number of points proper on the get-go of the pandemic, round March 2020.

As a administration staff we took it as a chance to have a look at issues in ways in which we in all probability wouldn’t if we hadn’t been put below duress. We made some dangerous choices that ended up paying off. For instance, we did should undergo a little bit of a downsizing and reallocate a number of the tasks, however that helped us develop into a stronger firm — we actually realized the best way to be leaner and function extra effectively.

We’ve had some points with regard to availability of some components and elements, however we’ve been capable of finding alternate options and we’ve been in a position to determine methods of shuffling from one alternative to a different. We’ve additionally seen a realignment with Canadian prospects trying to make use of Canadian suppliers, in order that help has been nice.

On the availability chain aspect, we actually acquired into the weeds. We have already got pretty prolonged lead occasions on a few of our elements — relying on the time of yr it might be as much as 52 weeks — in order that mitigated a number of the challenges as a result of we had components on the entrance of the queue. Nonetheless, we turned up the amount on ensuring we had ongoing conversations with anyone that was concerned in any ingredient of our provide chain that was crucial to us having the ability to produce and ship merchandise. There was a variety of dialog and a variety of transparency.

That’s one of many greatest issues that I’ve realized via the pandemic. If everyone understands what’s happening and works via it collectively, then you possibly can actually cut back the stress round any problem that arises. When you have a great relationship, your prospects are normally prepared to climate the storm with you.

Finally, it’s been a really optimistic studying expertise. We’re going to come back out the opposite finish of this way more environment friendly and way more aggressive within the international market.”

Jonathan Dekel is a freelancer who writes about know-how for MaRS. Torstar, the mother or father firm of the Toronto Star, has partnered with MaRS to focus on innovation in Canadian corporations.

Disclaimer This content material was produced as a part of a partnership and due to this fact it might not meet the requirements of neutral or unbiased journalism.



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