While the world may feel like it’s becoming smaller due to the advances in technology and communications, there is still a great disparity between the resources some countries have over others. This disparity can be partly explained by the lack of a substantial supply chain with supporting technology in developing or underdeveloped nations; it substantially affects their ability to move the same level of supplies and products as more developed nations. The quality and availability of an effective supply chain also hamper the ability of underdeveloped nations to participate in and benefit from the stimulus of international trade.
According to the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, supply chain management plays a critical role in a society, though it is not always recognized by many. The Council posits that with ardent supply chain management, a nation may find ways to expedite critical products to those in need, such as for medical missions or disaster relief operations.
"Citizens of a country depend on supply chain managers to design and operate food, medicine, and water supply chains that protect products from tampering. Sophisticated packaging techniques, state-of-the-art surveillance cameras, global positioning systems, and RFID inventory tracking are some of the methods used to deter terrorists from accessing these vital logistics systems.”
Basically, supply chain management and technology can provide hope to many nations where goods and products would not otherwise be available. Many are beginning to recognize that the supply chain, including its advancements, can bring improved conditions to its citizens, particularly those in rural and underdeveloped areas.
Recently, the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), an industry association focused on supply chain organizational transformation, innovation, and leadership, announced a new global alliance network aimed at propelling the supply chain forward and transforming how organizations conduct business. ASCM's network incorporates customized relationships that involve jointly managed product development, membership administration, sponsorship opportunities, research initiatives, or event planning. Specifically, they are working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to "bring together resources, expertise, and vision to focus on the areas of greatest need and help all people lead healthy, productive lives."
ASCM received a grant from the foundation to develop and implement a sustainable operating model focused on improving public health supply chains and foster the overall advancement of end-to-end supply chain management in Africa. There are numerous cases that illustrate how intervention may greatly benefit the well-being of a developing nation that does not have access to many of the same comforts of home found in the United States.
For example, nearly 1.5 million children die each year from diseases that could have been prevented by appropriate vaccines, had they been available. The problem lies in the cold chain: cold transport and storage facilities are not readily available in many nations and therefore can't accommodate such vaccines, even if they are available.
The intervention of humanitarian aid through nonprofit organizations has funded storage devices that serve as "thermos" jars for such vaccines, making their availability possible. This can make the difference between life or death for many lives throughout the world.
With the development of more Internet of Things (IoT) networks, temperature-controlled facilities, and adequate transportation equipment, the fulfillment of aid services could improve drastically for such cultures. As supply chain logistics and technology advances, we can fully expect to see nations benefit, not only from better vaccines, medications, and responding more effectively to demand, but also being able to participate in global trade.
“Logistics are the backbone of global trade. As supply chains become more globally dispersed, the quality of a country’s logistics services can determine whether or not it can participate in the global economy.”
– Caroline Freund, Director, Macroeconomics, Trade, and Investment in Global Practice at the World Bank Group
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