HARDISON’S TIPS – OCTOBER 13, 2021 – COPIER INDUSTRY SUPPLY CHAIN WARNINGS
Supply Chain Warnings
A good way to get people talking, in this lingering pandemic era, is to ask whether they have tried to rent a car lately. Even if they haven’t, they have likely heard stories, perhaps about largely empty lots at the Atlanta airport, where customers were forced to compete in what the actress Audra McDonald, in an angry tweet, called a “hunger games relay,” or about the man who told the Los Angeles Times that he had booked a compact car to take his kids to Disneyland only to be directed to a van that “reeked of cigarettes and marijuana.” But most of the stories are more quotidian; the common elements are long lines, high rates, few choices, and mysterious references to “supply-chain issues.”
What are these supply-chain issues, and why, more than a year and a half into the pandemic, do they keep popping up in so many corners of life? The shortage of rental cars—as well as used and new cars—isn’t pretty.
Several news outlets are reporting on the increasing instability of the global supply chain. The very real concern stems from a recent open letter from the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and other industry groups to the United Nations.
The letter reinforces the industry’ repeated pleas to international leaders, calling for “freedom of movement for transport workers, for governments to use protocols that have been endorsed by international bodies for each sector and to prioritize transport workers for vaccinations” per the WHO’s recommendations.
If swift, decisive and coordinated changes are not made to support the “already crumbling global supply chain,” they risk a “global transport systems collapse.”
In particular, the letter cites the risk that personnel shortages pose: “It is of great concern that we are also seeing shortages of workers and expect more to leave our industries as a result of the poor treatment they have faced during the pandemic, putting the supply chain under greater threat.”
The commercial pipeline that each year brings $1 trillion worth of toys, clothing, electronics and furniture from Asia to the United States is clogged and no one knows how to unclog it.
This month, the median cost of shipping a standard rectangular metal container from China to the West Coast of the United States hit a record $20,586, almost twice what it cost in July, which was twice what it cost in January, according to the Freightos index. Essential freight-handling equipment too often is not where it’s needed, and when it is, there aren’t enough truckers or warehouse workers to operate it.
As Americans fume, supply headaches that were viewed as temporary when the coronavirus pandemic began now are expected to last through 2022.
Dozens of cargo vessels stuck at anchor off the California coast illustrate the delivery disruptions that have become the signature feature of the recovery, fueling inflation, sapping growth and calling into question the global economic model that has prevailed for three decades.