Digital twin tech 'vital for US supply chain efforts' - EY

John Polowczyk is an MD at EY, where he specialises in military, logistics, governments and supply chain.
EY MD and supply chain expert John Polowczyk says digital-twin tech will be critical to success of US government's Supply Chain Resilience Center

The Biden administration’s bid to make US supply chains more resilient needs to include capacity for digital-twin driven scenario planning, a leading EY supply chain expert says.

The US government unveiled plans in early December for an ambitious cross-government programme to tackle long-standing issues in the US supply chain.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Supply Chain Resilience Center (SCRC) is a cross-government partnership whose purpose is to collaborate with the private sector on mitigating risk. 

In announcing the plan White House officials said that using both domestic and international partnerships “can help diversity and strengthen the US supply chain”, adding that the pandemic “taught us that hyper-concentration of supply can be a problem”.

John Polowczyk is an MD at EY, where he specialises in military, logistics, governments and supply chain.

He says the SCRC “should stand up the capability to build digital twins of critical infrastructure such as vulnerabilities at US seaports or of transportation networks”. He adds that it then needs to “stage scenario-driven events to test the models and find the friction points that will require mitigation”.

This, he says, is the only way to “stress test” supply chains, and points to how commercial firms are building models of their supply chains for scenario planning purposes “which helps them better mitigate obstacles that may occur”.  

He adds that another key component of the SCRC will be the data-sharing structure that underpins its work across government and private industry. 

Polowczyk has first-hand experience of working with the US government on supply chain issues; he ran its Supply Chain Taskforce at the start of the pandemic.

“The pandemic proved that the government needs more automated visibility into supply chains,” he says. “We created a supply chain control tower via a public private partnership, which allowed the government to see the supply chain and make better decisions.”

Co-ordinated effort 'needed for SCRC to succeed'

But Polowczyk is concerned that details released around the SCRC suggest that there is “a lack of coordinated effort to provide end-to-end visibility across critical supply chains”. 

He adds: “Cabinet secretaries have been given pieces of the solution, but the fact sheet lacks a singular entity that is responsible to bring this together.”

Polowczyk also says that the success of the programme will depend on  the quality of supply chain mapping, for both capability and capacity.

“Currently, tools exist that show what entities are in an organisation’s supply chain, which helps government and commercial enterprises understand supply chain risk,” he says.

He adds: ”From our commercial work at EY, we see private firms are also mapping capacity. The government should automate both the ‘who’ and the ‘how much’ so they can understand resiliency for surge. 

“Once government agencies understand the capacity in their supply chain network, the government can then make better investment decisions on capabilities required to support national economic prosperity and national security.”

  • For further insight check out other issues of Supply Chain Magazine, as well as Procurement Magazine & Sustainability Magazine
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