Supply chain risk in the spotlight once again

Supply Chain Risk

Following the recent deadly terrorist attacks in Brussels which included Zaventem airport, express and forwarding companies with bases there, as well as those who make use of the transit hub, put in to motion a number of contingency plans. Over time, contingency plans of this nature have become of greater importance to logistics companies as global supply chain risks, including terrorism, have grown.

Flights and cargo operations at the airport were suspended for a time with the resumption of operations occurring late the following day. Inevitably, this had an impact on the movement of freight across the region, particularly when considering Zaventem’s pivotal role within European networks.

At the time, many logistics providers operating at the airport made statements explaining the contingency plans for shipments scheduled to transit Brussels. Kuehne + Nagel explained, “…We will route incoming & outgoing cargo via our other airfreight gateways and intensify the use of our own Kuehne + Nagel Hubs in Frankfurt and Amsterdam. Additionally, we have activated two of our Contract Logistics sites as cross docking platform for your air freight imports and exports where required.  Kuehne + Nagel Mechelen is set up for your general cargo and Kuehne + Nagel Geel for your temperature controlled cargo.”

Transport and logistics activities represented 4 and 5% of terrorism targets in 2006 and 2007 respectively, according to a review of the official terrorist statistics from MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base.  In addition, A PwC report found that the number of supply chain related attacks has increased over the past decade.

In December 2015, Wolfgang Lehmacher, Head of Supply Chain and Transport Industries, World Economic Forum, wrote that an attack on strategic supply chains could bring the entire global economy to a halt. He explained, “To avoid such disaster, companies and governments should be more aware of this perceived ‘low probability threat’, and develop the tools to protect their economic interests and those of the world. “

Indeed, as supply chains have globalised and become more complex, disruption in any region could cripple the supply chain entirely if effective contingency plans are not put in place. This disruption could come in the form of an attack itself, or indeed the reaction to the attack. For example, heightened security at airports and other transportation hubs, impacting the speed of transit of goods.

As a topic of increasing importance, supply chain risk will form the basis of a number of discussions at Ti’s Future of Logistics Conference to be held in London- June 2016. To find out more about the event or to secure your place please see the Ti website: