People are probably tired of hearing about the dysfunctional supply chain, but unfortunately it’s still a concern. We can expect more challenges for the rest of 2022.
The availability of disposable gloves will feel the impact. That does not point to a looming shortage, but it does affect pricing, availability of certain sizes, or availability in certain parts of the country.
The most immediate problem is shipping traffic. A lot of it.
The joys of the season are coming
Starting in July, companies gear up for the holiday season. All the fall holidays, from back-to-school to Christmas, are in full bloom from a supplier standpoint. Your local retailer is likely already readying Halloween paraphernalia to replace the Independence Day bric-a-brac currently filling shelves.
All of those goods cause enormous strain for suppliers and shippers, who incidentally also have loads of other worries.
Not the least of those is China’s zero-COVID policy, which has led to long lockdowns in major cities and suspended operations in factories, businesses, and schools. It’s crippled the flow of supplies for months, and while it is starting to ease, major hurdles remain.
High levels of port congestion and shipping delays in Shanghai and elsewhere in China have exacerbated the situation. Ongoing congestion at ports worldwide, as well as low backhaul rates—a serious shortage of empty containers returning to Asia to be used again—means demand for containers still far exceeds capacity. That substantially drives up container costs.
The real pain is at the pumps
Another universal pain point is rising fuel costs. The cost of marine fuel is breaking records. But the real problem is the cost of diesel fuel, which is the highest it’s been in the U.S. since the government began tracking it.
At its essence, the supply chain is, of course, a series of links that don’t always fit together well.
A factory makes a product, which is loaded onto a truck. It’s driven to port, where it’s loaded onto a ship. A sail across the ocean blue later, the ship is unloaded at another port. The products are loaded onto another truck, then driven to distribution centers (or big-box stores) and into the hands of happy customers.
The chain’s fragility is always on display
Oversimplified to the point of silliness? Probably. But remember that at any of those steps—those links in the supply chain—something can go wrong. It doesn’t have to be dramatic (like a ship getting stuck in the Suez Canal, or catching fire and sinking). Labor shortages or cramped warehouses or fuel cost spikes can cause breakdowns just as easily.
Conventional wisdom is that most of the world (except for China) has moved on from the pandemic; therefore, supply chains will return to “normal.” Unfortunately, this is not the case. The world has permanently changed, and supply chains will need to be reinvented.
Many people who have bought disposable gloves thought that once the pandemic was over, they could go back to pre-pandemic inventory levels (and pay pre-pandemic prices). Well, sorry, but that isn’t happening.
You need someone you can count on
All of this supply chain turbulence highlights the importance of working with a reliable partner. AMMEX strives to be just that.
It doesn’t mean that we always have precise availability, but we will be clear in communicating that to you. We will do whatever we can to preserve the partnership: Continue to invest in logistics, supply chain redundancy, boots on the ground, and multiple sourcing. We use dozens of manufacturers and have dozens of people looking at product quality and delivery.
It’s times like these when partners’ reliability is tested. AMMEX gets that, and we will continue to invest in delivering the products our customers need. Ready to take advantage of that opportunity? Log into our Online Portal to place an order.