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Oliver Wight Blog

Ready, set, go! Preparing your supply chain like Formula 1

By Don Harding, Partner at Oliver Wight Asia Pacific

13 July 2020


As the Formula 1 season resumes (exciting), I have been thinking of analogies from the world of F1 that can be applied to our supply chains. Forget all the great stuff around teamwork in the pits, or drivers knowing the course so well that they can drive it blindfolded, what I am thinking about is restarts.

Sooner or later virus restrictions will be eased or removed, and we will be “go, go, go”. My question is – what kind of restart are you ready for?

Is your supply chain like the classic days of F1 where a flag was waved and drivers ran to their cars, jumped in, started up and accelerated away? Or are you like the modern restarts after a safety car? In this scenario, the cars continue driving round the circuit controlled by the safety car’s speed. At the appropriate time, the safety car comes in and racing can resume. The key to this kind of restart is watching the other cars closely and anticipating the road ahead. At the correct point, racing can begin and, if you have managed your track position carefully and react fast enough, you can gain advantage at the restart.

My analogy, suggests that we are expected to restart like the modern F1 example. We are “driving the circuit” now and the restart is imminent (it is already here for some businesses). Getting back up and running quickly is the key and for that you need to be prepared. A clear understanding of your tactical situation, current performance, agreed “race strategy” and the road ahead are critical in gaining advantage at this time.

Translating this analogy into the real world of supply chain, do you have a clear view of your supply chain capability as you restart? Consider the following:

  • Which elements are struggling or lagging behind the rest?
  • What is your current performance and, more importantly, how fast can you ramp up performance?
  • Is your supply chain strategy (re)aligned to reflect reality? For example, is your supply chain configured to cope with channel swapping, new channels and changes in customer expectations?
  • Are you looking to the future to ensure you avoid inevitable bumps in the road?

If you feel that your supply chain is more like a classic F1 start, it is worth remembering that this type of start was banned because too many drivers were being knocked down as they ran to their cars. It is a tough race, and you really don’t want to find your competition bearing down on you at high speed as you’re caught like a rabbit in the headlights.

Oliver Wight has fifty years of hard-earned experience helping supply chains drive the race better and faster. If you would like to know how we can help you prepare for the restart and the race ahead, we are ready for that discussion.

Take care and drive safe!