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Is now the time to re-think supply chains?

Updated: Jan 8, 2021

The global economy has changed drastically since the calendar flipped to 2020. Working from home is now the new normal, with many white-collar employers permanently adopting the arrangement. Social gatherings have been limited to 10 or less people for months on end. Universities and workplaces in many different industries closed for an undetermined amount of time. Unless you had a job that was deemed essential, you were left to fear the worst about your financials. But, it seems the dark times are concluding and life is resuming to some semblance of the normality of 2019. As countries reopen for business and grants come in to jump start the economy, it could be worthwhile to investigate your supply chains and restructure as necessary.

Many companies in all different industries felt the effects of the coronavirus before it even hit their country. As China shut everything down in January to slow its spread, most supply chains were disrupted without knowing when components were going to arrive. This created a ripple effect that is still being felt today, and could last well into 2021. This major disruption could have been avoided by following one of the main rules that companies have been ignoring more and more in recent times: diversify your supply chain. There is nothing wrong with using Chinese-based labor and materials, but for China to be the sole source is a gamble. In addition to that, Chinese labor is becoming more expensive, and is no longer the cheap labor of the past. The increased labor costs add up through the value chain, with the result being an end product that is a few percentage points cheaper than a locally sourced product. The relatively lower cost of goods produced in China, the rising labor costs, and the ease of mass disruption are all good reasons to reexamine supply chains.

As highlighted in a previous article titled "Will COVID-19 accelerate automated manufacturing of advanced composites" we explore the benefits that incorporating automation in a post-COVID world will bring to manufacturers in all industries, and how to maximize your ROI. Add to that the fact that automation is becoming more widely available and affordable to implement, the shift to Industry 4.0 will happen quicker than anticipated. In a survey of supply chains by the IDC in 2020, 73% of the respondents said that robotics will be either important or very important to the success of their business in the next three years. Automation has the ability to rival the Chinese labor costs, with higher quality, better repeatability, and greater output.

Innovation is a key cornerstone of European products, with countless hours going into R&D across the board. Some common areas of R&D are advanced manufacturing, bio-based materials, and thermoplastic prepregs, among others. There are many innovative European based startups that combine these topics to offer really unique equipment to improve production capabilities, and end-products to improve the consumer's experience both in Europe and abroad. The website EU-Startups is a fairly comprehensive database for startups based in Europe with a nice search function to find exactly what you are looking for.

We here at Addcomposites are helping manufacturers diversify their supply chain by enabling the widespread adoption of composites automation. We work with European suppliers who are able to provide us high-quality components. When you incorporate an AFP-XS from Addcomposites, you can be assured you are getting a high-quality system that will perform to the standards your industry requires, with a shorter rate of return on investment. Visit us at to learn how you can get started with AFP today.


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