Supply Chain Blues (First of a Series)

We’ve all been there. You try to re-order your favorite beverage, sneaker, exercise bike, or cleaning product, and it’s out of stock.

The dynamics behind these supply chain issues differ depending on the situation. Some manufacturers are still playing catch-up with consumer demand in areas such as home improvement and fitness. Others are challenged by warehousing or trucking logistics.

Sometimes this results in counterintuitive outcomes. In the spring we shopped for garage doors as part of a home renovation. In March 2020 lumber prices dropped with the downturn, but then skyrocketed – almost to the price of gold. We opted for steel doors. Apparently so did others. Lumber costs have retreated, steel is up sharply and we’re still waiting for our doors.

The industry publication Supply Chain Management Review reported recently on other Covid-related themes. 2021, it turns out, is on a record pace for factory fires – up 150% for the first half of the year, compared to the same period last year. This is apparently caused by “gaps in regulatory and process execution as well as a shortage of skilled labor in warehouses.”