Coping with the Latest Supply Chain Problems
Supply chain disruption is rearing its ugly head again with a caveat: e-commerce won’t be spared this time around. The east and west coasts of the United States are littered with idle ships denied permission to dock. Heading into the holiday season, we are bound to face shortages of all types of imported goods.
According to Newsweek, the Port of Savannah alone has upwards of 80,000 shipping containers waiting to be unloaded. This problem is not unique to the United States; in fact, the UK is experiencing shortages due to the lack of truck drivers, the same issue that caused recent fuel shortages throughout that country.
In the United States, 90 percent of supply is directed to the big cities. Those locations are likely to experience the greatest impact when supply is not replenished.
Damien DiPillo, former Supply Chain Manager for General Motors in Arlington, Texas, explains:
“As long as you shut down one piece, the chain is broken. I always say supply chain is manpower and equipment. You have to have people and trucks to move anything. The third piece is fuel. We’re not going to run out of warehouse space, but no one wants to drive trucks if they get unemployment to stay home. The biggest shortage is truck drivers and crane operators to unload cargo ships at all ports. You have to have a driver under every cargo container as it is unloaded. It takes a team of twenty drivers at Oakland Port under each crane.
“If short on a team, the crane stops and the cycle times in and out of the ship slows. It’s all union labor. The biggest port issues are in Tampa, Georgia, New York, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Long Beach. The European port at Spartanburg, South Carolina, is a mess with hundreds of ships behind.
“We’re only talking about drivers needed to unload ships; we are not even talking about drivers to take cargo from the port yard on the road. Drivers are jumping jobs now to try to take premium driving jobs from warehouses to stores and back home, trying to stay local. No one wants the longer hauls. There will also have to be a federal change on how long a driver can drive in a day. Seven hours is not enough distance.
“Until the unemployment benefits run out, truckers won’t be incentivized.”
According to some dock workers posting on social media, ships are being turned away with trucks left waiting hours at port to haul cargo. Some ships are being rerouted to other ports in the gulf.
But shortages are not limited to imported products. Epoch Times is reporting that school cafeterias across the country have been removing food items from their menus. Grocery store shelves in some cities are getting bare, indicating we may see food shortage problems increase over the next few weeks. Telling people to buy freezers and stock up is a temporary solution that won’t solve the problem.
Although the current administration has called for ports to extend their hours, without the necessary labor, the longer workday may not prove beneficial.
Former Home Depot and Chrysler CEO Bob Nardelli is calling for a national emergency declaration, which would allow the military to become involved in transporting cargo. If the situation does not improve over the coming weeks, military intervention could be a viable solution.
Preparation is the key to overcoming this challenge. Now is the time for businesses to stock up on non-perishable items and work with local suppliers, if possible.
SOS Inventory is a great fit for businesses for coping with tight supply chains, offering features designed to lower labor costs, streamline workflows, and track every workflow stage and cost your inventory incurs.