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Do the right thing

Richard Eglon, Marketing Director of Agilitas, argues that with supply chains under pressure, channel firms should collaborate with customers and partners to give new life to old equipment

In these turbulent times, when there is so much uncertainty, channel firms are having to be much more innovative and collaborative as they endeavour to maintain customers’ critical systems.

With this proving increasingly difficult due to pressures on the technology supply chain, now is the time for channel firms to step up and collaborate with their customers and partners to implement hardware amnesties across their supply chains – to retrieve unused equipment from shelves, cupboards and store-rooms and to partner with innovative tech repair businesses that can bring products back to life.

This will allow existing distribution channels to move hardware back into the supply chain so that channel firms can continue to support clients’ mission-critical systems, while also having a positive impact on sustainability by reusing equipment and contributing to the circular economy.

The COVID-19 effect
In a survey on the impact of Covid-19 on supply chains conducted by The Institute for Supply Management in March, almost 75% of companies reported supply disruption. Since then, lockdown and the move to remote working have created significantly higher demand for some products and a drop-off in demand for others. At the same time, the closing of international borders has disrupted access to materials and resources, including labour, from around the world.

Once the coronavirus crisis is behind us, we can expect to see a global reconstruction of supply chains, which could include a better connected and more sustainable local supply hub. This will take a significant amount of time and money. In the meantime, a circular approach could be built quickly and efficiently.

The circular economy is most often linked with the idea of recycling. But there’s a lot more to it than that. A circular approach stops technology from being thrown away once it is no longer needed and encourages devices to be repaired or refurbished and given a new life – often with another company – to reduce waste and preserve valuable resources.

The circular economy has sustainable benefits for companies and brings opportunities for businesses to create value and protect the environment by improving the management of resources, eliminating waste through design and innovation and maximising the lifetime of products and materials.

It also encourages manufacturers to use recycled or renewable materials in their products and thus reduce waste and the extraction of non-renewable resources.

This approach is good for the planet and could offer a solution to the problem of fewer new devices entering the supply chain. A partner with an inventory full of technology parts or devices that are unused because they are outdated or no longer work could supplement the reduced supply chain by repairing and re-using technology that already exists but sits gathering dust on a shelf in a warehouse.

Channel firms have the chance to step forward and team up with customers and partners to collate hardware across their supply chains. This includes coming together with innovative technology repair companies that can test devices, repair product parts and move hardware back into the supply chain where it can help to support critical systems.

Collaboration within the supply chain could bring many other positive benefits such as lower inventory levels and higher inventory turnover, lower out-of-stock levels and shorter lead times, to mention just a few.

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