Global Response to the Production and Distribution Disruptions
COVID-19 has laid bare many uncomfortable truths regarding society’s overall preparedness for low-probability but high-impact events, especially global ones. These range from issues pertaining exclusively to pandemic readiness (like our domestic capacity to produce personal protective equipment, ventilators, sanitizer and vaccines) to matters that are considerably less esoteric, like the ability of global supply chains to operate regardless of the various stresses put upon them.
The latter goes far beyond the toilet paper supply issue experienced early in the pandemic. It expands to include a whole range of products like lumber and other building materials, tools, aluminum and replacement parts of all kinds.
In many cases supply chains have been simultaneously squeezed on both ends — supply and demand.
Production and distribution disruptions
While unscheduled closures of manufacturing and distribution facilities, bottlenecks at borders and sick workers have caused choke points in supply lines, people being cooped up in their homes for months on end have driven up demand for a host of products.
Analysis of the world, from experts
There has also been a simultaneous shortage of labor, particularly in the Licensed trades.
Throw in other disruptors, like the massive winter storm in Texas in February, the six-day blockage of the Suez Canal due to the grounded ship Ever Given in March and the six-day closure of the Colonial gasoline pipeline in the United States after a cyberattack in early May.
Also include the fact that shipping containers are being lost in record amounts for various reasons, with more than 3,000 going overboard in 2020 and the 2021 number already hitting 2,000 by the end of April and late September more than 3,000
The pandemic has shown us that global supply chains are a huge house of cards: fragile enough on a good day, but prone to come tumbling down when there’s an unexpected breeze.
This has been particularly apparent with the manufacturing of computer chips.