Analysis of how product lead times have changed since COVID-19 has revealed which sectors responded to supply disruption the fastest, with many now beating their pre-pandemic fulfilment times.
Inventory management software provider, Unleashed, analysed 25 different sub-sectors of the supply chain industry to see which ones experienced the most severe shortages at the height of the COVID-19 crisis, and how quickly they responded.
According to the data, the five sub-sectors with the longest increase in lead times during the pandemic were plastic and rubber products (94 per cent); printing and publishing (73 per cent); spirits (66 per cent); confectionery (61 per cent); and tea and coffee (46 per cent).
When looking at the change in lead times over the last two years between 2019-20 and 2021-22, 23 out of the 25 sub-sectors achieved an overall reduction. The five biggest improvers were food (56 per cent); electronics and telecommunication (55 per cent); health, medical supplies and equipment (54 per cent); office equipment and supplies (52 per cent); and clothing, footwear and accessories (50 per cent). The industrial machinery, raw materials and equipment sub-sector also achieved a reduction of 48 per cent.
Improved inventory management is one of several methods successful businesses will have used to reduce lead times during a time of so much uncertainty, explained Stephen Jones, Head of UK & EMEA at Unleashed:
“Global supply chains are complex, and while the market has been more uncertain than usual, our data suggests that suppliers are working hard to build resilience. In fact, for many, the crises have only strengthened their resolve. Given how much lead times have dropped in some sub-sectors, their efforts are clearly paying off.
“Keeping a tight rein on inventory is essential at any time but particularly during periods of disruption. When product lead times are fluctuating, the right technology can quickly show you the actual vs expected lead times which allows you to manage customer expectations, or look for alternative suppliers who can deliver faster.”