Somewhere in the world this month, a typhoon might delay a shipment of auto parts. A violent mob could shut a supplier's factory, or a faraway boardroom spat might halt a critical product investment.
If so, Resilinc will sound the alarm. The global supply chain alert service, headquartered in the San Francisco Bay Area, will beam out warnings to automakers and companies in their supply chains that would otherwise be sleeping soundly through the night.
Soon after the supply chain alert goes out, Resilinc follows with a more-detailed impact notice. That report might tell a supplier, for example, that there are five plants in an affected area and the supplier receives 10 parts from them that go into 50 of its products, and those 50 products represent $200 million of the supplier's revenues.
"The idea is to give companies faster information so that they can take action to reduce their risk," says Resilinc CEO Bindiya Vakil. "Bad things will happen. That's a given. We track more than 70,000 factories and a list of 30 bad things that might happen to them."
Tornadoes are one of those things. Last year, 10 tornadoes interfered with auto parts production, according to Resilinc's EventWatch data. Other chain-disrupting emergencies include hurricanes, earthquakes, labor strikes, factory explosions, terrorist acts and bankruptcies.
The email-based system was created after the devastating 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami, which in addition to killing thousands of people, halted vehicle production lines around the world. Many auto companies were surprised to learn that a subcomponent from the affected area was in their supply chain.
Resilinc monitors news and Internet chatter worldwide in 44 languages, including social media. It might learn of an industrial disruption after factory employees post photos of a workplace fire on Facebook.
"Supply chains have lost visibility to a lot of itty-bitty components that are semicustom, single-sourced, not too expensive, but have tremendous impact if they don't show up," Vakil tells Automotive News.
"Some categories move through a seven-tier supply chain. You can't ship a car if the thread that makes the seat belt didn't get made."
But according to the EventWatch data, the biggest supply chain threat last year was "mergers & acquisitions."
Not exactly an explosion or an earthquake, a supplier's acquisition can still cause delays, changes and complications in the chain, Vakil says.
"We didn't monitor that activity before 2015," she says. "But our customers told us that management change is more disruptive to supply chains than you realize. It can trigger uncertainty and a change in direction. Customers lose their contact person. And the rest of a supply chain needs to know it's coming their way."