Materials Availability and the Supply Chain: Risks, Effects, and Responses
Author(s)Alonso, Elisa; Field, Frank; Gregory, Jeremy; Kirchain, Randolph
Supply chain stakeholders should be aware of the stresses that supply chains place on materials use and the vulnerability of the supply base for that material to change. The question of materials availability is an issue that has been addressed many times over the past 200 years by scientists, engineers and economists, and it is an issue with many levels of complexity. This document examines the question of materials vulnerability, or conversely materials availability, from the perspective of a supply chain decision-maker. Specifically, it addresses four elements of this question: (1) Outcomes: What types of changes can be observed in supply chains as a result of limited materials availability? (2) Mechanisms: What can cause supply chains to face limited raw materials availability? (3) Metrics: How can supply chain decision-makers screen for materials availability vulnerability? (4) Strategies: How can supply chains adapt to become more resilient to potential limited materials availability? This paper, through the use of detailed case analyses, suggests that there are specific outcomes – technological, operational, and geographic – which can be expected within supply chains when limitations on materials emerge and that at least two mechanisms can drive limited access to materials. These results are complemented with an examination of metrics to diagnose vulnerability and a preliminary discussion of preventative prescriptions for the supply chain.
resource scarcity, supply chain, metrics, case studies, cobalt, copper