Alun Morgan

The electronics industry should adopt data-driven planning methods.

For many companies, supply-chain management has become a major challenge as the pandemic has continued to disrupt all our lives. As lifestyles have become home-based, for work and leisure, demands have shifted from services to products: materials and tools for lockdown projects, gaming and video equipment, and extra work-from-home IT. There is a global shortage of shipping containers and ships to carry them. As a result, shipping costs have increased sharply. It could take a long time for container costs to return to pre-pandemic levels. Added to that, the spread of the virus has disrupted and depleted workforces, resulting in backlogs and delays.

On top of the misery came the recent blockage of the Suez Canal, adding several days of delay as the backlog was cleared. And, of course, there were domino effects at ports around the world, as cargo was unable to move into or out of the system. The problem has raised questions about the future of super-large container ships and strengthens the argument for using larger numbers of smaller vessels.

Far-flung supply chains, designed to enhance competitiveness and minimize costs, are now under threat and will likely need to change. The world is simply too impatient to wait for things to return to normal. Moreover, there are strong calls for a “new normal” that should, at the very least, strive for environmental sustainability.

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