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One example of supply chain disruptions are the number of container ships waiting at multiple ports around the United States. There have been delays in unloading these ships. | Image: Getty Images

From the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to the Suez Canal being blocked by the Ever Given container ship, 2021 has seen major disruptions in global supply chains, impacting how consumers and companies have made and transported materials and goods. But supply chains have been struggling for longer than that.

Dr. Eleftherios Iakovou, the Harvey Hubbell Professor in the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University, is putting his years of knowledge toward finding ways to decrease the impact of disruptions on these systems.

“Business leaders understand that the lengthy supply chains are very brittle,” Iakovou said. “They're exposed to a wide range of disruptions due to earthquakes, floods, hurricanes…today, the upcoming holiday season, supply chains are threatened by disruptions in demand. We have a surge in demand that we have never seen before.”

Iakovou, who also serves as director of manufacturing and logistics innovation initiatives at the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, said instead of focusing on just the last-mile logistics of the supply chain, policymakers and business leaders will need to need to expand the view to look at ways to make the whole supply chain, from producer to consumer, more resilient in the wake of disruptions.

“Unfortunately, what happened during the years is the message has been distorted, so they focused on a small last-mile logistic or transportation issues,” Iakovou said. “Today, due to COVID, we are forced to look at the entire picture. And as the U.S., I think we have a responsibility to the world and also to the citizens, the men and women of this nation, to do that as quickly as possible.”

These comments are part of a larger conversation. To hear more, listen to this Engineering SoundBytes podcast episode on any major audio platform or on our BuzzSprout Homepage.