A senior e-procurement specialist has identified how professionals occupying supply chain jobs and procurement jobs can help their companies to avert the debacles caused across Europe this summer by a sudden CO2 shortage.

Procurement aficionado Paul Ellis notes that the shortage, combined with the warm summer weather and cultural events like the FIFA World Cup, created a perfect storm for consumers. The desire to barbecue meats in the garden and guzzle down copious amounts of chilled carbonated drinks peaked at a time when CO2 shortages meant that consumer demands were to take a serious hit.

Industrial and commercial CO2 is produced by large-scale fertiliser-production plants which produce huge volumes of the gas as a by-product. These factories took advantage of a seasonal opportunity to close down operations for routine maintenance work.
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Experts in the relevant procurement and supply chain jobs will hardly need to be reminded about the chaos caused by the CO2 shortages. This ubiquitous gas is used in multiple processes, from dry ice in theatres to chilled food deliveries, as well as the ethical slaughter of animals, lengthening the shelf-life of packaged meats and the extraction of crude oil. Not to mention, of course, it’s CO2 that give carbonated drinks their fizz. All of these processes and industries were severely hampered when the shortages came.

As supply chain recruitment specialists can testify, the best supply chain professionals can anticipate contingencies like this and should make plans to circumnavigate them.

Ellis recommends three essential contingency-planning steps:

  1. Use new software tools to slash the admin of collating and evaluating the responses of suppliers after conducting scenario-based stress-tests to assess their strengths and weaknesses (but conduct the tests with all suppliers)
  2. Survey environmental conditions using a PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental) analysis tool, which will help anticipate predicaments that may disrupt the supply chain
  3. Do some strategic sourcing to compile a list of alternative suppliers in case existing suppliers are unable to meet order requirements. Stakeholders, of course, will need to be on board with any switch of supplier

With those in place, customers needn’t suffer again.