It is tough to wiggle away from this simple fact. The world is facing shortages on hundreds of fronts. Yes, it is true; we didn’t prepare very well or even see this coming; add in the hurdles and pitfalls experienced from the Covid-19 pandemic. Semi-conductors might be the most obvious, but here is a broader list, some of which are utterly confusing: Chlorine, gas (petrol in the UK), ketchup, timber, steel, other metals, tennis balls, nurses, ammunition, medical supplies, and paper bags. We have all see then may lay to stockpile toilet paper and even domesticated animals.
Over sixty container ships are queueing outside the Los Angeles docks at the writing of this story, mainly because there aren’t the skilled people to bring them in and unload them or even drive the contents away. We have significant inflation on base materials, people costs, and even industrial space rents as most of us still are working from home. In an amazing turn, warehouse rental space prices are exploding just when we can’t fill them for the shortages we have. This problem won’t be going away quickly, so the problem is going away quickly.
Logistics isn’t just an issue in the US. Ask anybody trying to fill an automobile with gas in the UK that they can’t get, and you will see why the Army is now stepping in to drive gas containers. It feels like the 1970s in the UK again. Fifty years later, this is a problem that the modern supply chain should have solved. Traditional supply chain ideas have got us into this mess. When businesses run lean on inventory, focus on core components, and stretch turn rates to be as fast as possible, issues like this are bound to appear. Interconnect lots of waypoints into the supply chain like cogs in a wheel, going faster and faster.
The challenge with this is the same as opening the back of an analog watch and putting something in between one or two cogs. The whole system literally stops. The moment is on us to change this completely. Imagine an intelligent watch where each cog could adjust itself if something got in its way or if something caused another cog to get jammed.