The Worst Is Over? The U.S. Supply Chain Is Still Throwing Up Surprises


It’s been a horrible few years for the US supply chain, with the only potential benefit being the in-depth exploration of what may have been niche logistical issues. Now, with CNBC highlighting two new supply chain pile ups that have the potential to be devastating, logistics professionals are needing to look once again at the potential threats to their network that may not have been a genuine threat just a couple of years back. Being aware of these risks will help to counter those in the future and ensure that a greater level of assurance is built into the business supply chain, isolating it from existential risk.

Receiving unexpected products

Current supply chain issues are not just limited to issues of insufficient production or logistical supply. Increasingly, the amount of confusion being sewn into the global supply chain is leading to odd problems cropping up that can impact on very specific areas of business. As such, preparing for disruption is a case of having wider-scale contingencies that go past the normal level of preparedness.

A good example of this can be seen in the auto industry. In late September, the New Yorker covered the issue of one hire car company that was supplying vehicles that smelled of smoke, were unclean, and appeared to have skipped quality control before heading back into the market. As a result of cases such as this, car rental companies have to now take a greater level of care before putting their fleets back – a back to basics of sorts, away from the reliance on consumers. This includes deep cleaning every vehicle, car fumigation in certain states, and generally needing to commit to a higher level of service than before. These are strange changes, but these are strange times, too.

Cutting on the basics

Also beware of supply chain issues hitting areas that are directly in sight. A great recent example of this is the issues faced by Nando’s, a South African multinational chicken casual food chain that is particularly popular in the UK. As Raconteur magazine highlights, Nando’s found themselves in the unenviable position of being a chicken shop that ran out of chicken.

brown wooden shelf with books

On consideration, there are few supply chain bumps that could be worse than that outcome – the flagship product, the bread and butter of daily business, becoming unavailable. This is a timely reminder for businesses about how they should address the supply chain. Get the basics right first; ensure the business can fulfill its core mission.

Taken for granted

Another key area in which the supply chain is failing is the provision of chips and semiconductors. This is something that tech professionals will be all too aware of, especially those involved in hobbyism – such as building their own computers – yet is something the true reach of takes some work to understand. Specifically, the fact that chips are part and parcel of virtually all consumer electronics. As Popular Mechanics highlights, the endemic shortage of chips is starting to be a real long-term problem for industry, and is something many take for granted; when appliances start to simply not find their way onto shelves, however, that may be a more well understood problem than ever before.

The supply chain is an extremely complex beast that encompasses varied and in-depth services that can be hard to comprehend. Indeed, the best risk planners are well aware of how their business could be challenged, and are there to think outside the box on where those impacts will lie. This, more than ever, is necessary.