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Fashion Logistics When 10 Percent of the World Goes Dark

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, the United States is not immune to large-scale power disruptions – as made evident by the Fourth of July power outages in the Washington DC area. Massive thunderstorms and a scorching heat wave left some 3 million homes and businesses lost power, leading to millions of dollars lost in damages. For businesses — especially apparel manufacturers and retailers — disruptive events like these highlight the importance of first-rate apparel supply chain management in order to have the apparel logistics flexibility and operational resilience to rebound quickly and continue to thrive.

But if 3 million people losing power sent powerful and damaging ripples throughout supply chains across America, what would, say, a power outage more than 200 times as large do to global manufacturing systems?

That's what happened recently in India—the world’s second most populous country —when a series of grid problems caused a blackout of a truly astonishing scale stretching across the subcontinent. Trains stopped. Impotent stoplights led to endless traffic snarls. Coal miners were trapped.

Just look at the numbers:

  • An estimated 670 million people lost power over two days
  • Some 300 million people had no power at all, while another 370 million had only sporadic power
  • That’s nearly 10 percent of the world’s total population
  • The blackouts extended nearly 2,000 miles across nine states, encompassing New Delhi and Kolkata (two of the world’s largest cities)
  • Most relevant to this discussion, textile manufacturing employs an estimated 20 million people in India

Low-wage, low-skill industries such as textile and apparel manufacturing are some of the best for poorer countries to build more sustainable middle classes. India, home to a rich and colorful history of crafting beautiful textiles

… has become a prominent part of many company's supple chains.

The lesson, as always, is that there are myriad factors you can't control that could have major effects on your fashion logistics — especially if your operations span the globe. All you can do is A) be prepared for all potential calamities as much as possible and B) maximize efficiency throughout your supply chain in order to leave wiggle room for unexpected delays. If your speed-to-market is unmatched across your supply chain, then a snag in one link may not be devastating.

Posted: 8/17/2012 1:38:34 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments


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