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T H E S U P P LY C H A I N

Major Supply-Chain Shifts Predicted After Global Pandemic MICHELLE COMERFORD Project Director, Industrial & Supply Chain Practice Leader, Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Co. @mmcomerford THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS shined

a bright light on the fragility of global supply chain networks, causing many to reevaluate these strategies and overall manufacturing footprints. In the U.S., many government officials are calling for the reshoring of manufacturing operations, particularly those that supply and produce essential goods such as pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. To be clear, the U.S. reshoring trend was already occurring for some operations, given changing global economies, risk mitigation, advances in automation and technology, and more recent trade wars. Further, supply chain strategies have followed various cyclical patterns over the past 40 years. But given the severity of the disruption of COVID-19, there is no doubt that many supply chains will be changed for the foreseeable future. Companies will continue to shift to more “local” production. Along with domestic production comes local sourcing for supplies, parts, and ingredients. Given the heavy concentration of offshored facilities for some sectors, many of those supply chains remain clustered abroad. As a result, the complete restoration of U.S. supply chains will be a lengthier process. Still, expect the pace of local production to soar, given the nation’s impressive technological offerings.

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Manufacturers bringing operations back to the U.S. will be greeted by rapidly evolving technology driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning. These advances will allow many traditional processes to be replaced by automation and robotics. Additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing) is also maturing in the U.S., with new materials that can be used and newfound efficiencies for mass production. In addition to making operations more efficient, this technology may also drive new innovation, filling the aforementioned supply chain gaps that currently exist in the U.S. Unwinding global supply chain networks is no easy task and will take some time to play out. That said, the benefits of a “local for local” manufacturing strategy may be worth the effort — effectively mitigating future risk. It is likely, then, that the U.S. will see a sizable increase in manufacturing investment in the years to come, particularly from companies in the supply chain for products destined for U.S. customers.

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Virginia Economic Review: Second Quarter 2020  

In this issue of Virginia Economic Review, we feature insightful perspectives from dozens of thought leaders on how the future of cities and...

Virginia Economic Review: Second Quarter 2020  

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