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Empty Shelves and Empty Wallets – The Impact of Supply Chain Problems

You are not imagining things. Empty shelves at the grocery store and empty lots at the car dealer are a familiar sight.

Unfortunately, these shortages are also emptying our wallets with higher costs on items from fast food breakfast to popular toys. Headlines are pointing to a broken supply chain to explain these issues. Consumers and manufacturers alike wonder how it broke and what the outcome will be.

The Impact of Supply Chain Problems

A supply chain is the network between the making of a product and its sale to the consumer. It includes producers, vendors, warehouses, transportation providers, distributing centers and the retailer. A supply chain should be well-oiled machine. Just like a machine, however, it suffers if one part of it cannot function properly.

Supply chain problems started with the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Much of the world marketplace begins in the factories of China. An overwhelming number of Chinese plants that manufacture and assemble goods for global companies shuttered early in the pandemic. Shutdowns spread across the globe, and the manufacturing, distribution and sale of millions of products went into hibernation.

As doors reopened, demand grew quickly as a new normal included online grocery purchases and work from home increased the desire for home improvement goods. Shortages of workers, equipment, and space following the shutdown have made issues worse over the first half of 2021. Overseas manufacturing is now back in business, albeit not yet to pre-pandemic levels, and companies are doing their best to get those goods across the pond.

Two of the largest seaports in the United States accepted a 30% increase in the amount of goods going through them. They had to process that cargo with nearly 28% fewer workers and ship those goods with a shortage of 80,000 truck drivers nationwide. The image of dozens of overcapacity cargo ships docked off the coast of California ironically reflect the key crisis of our current supply chain- lots of stuff waiting to get moving again.

This picture does not bode well for the upcoming holiday season. Higher prices and fewer choices may have you looking twice at upcycling last year’s unwanted gifts. Industry experts say it may be a year before the kinks in the chain are worked out. Meanwhile, practicing patience and tightening the belt are what the typical American can do to whether the storm.

While the supply chain situation still makes waves, The Toolroom remains the right choice for all of your plastic injection molding needs. Our services include plastic injection molding, custom tool design, and mold repair and maintenance. Call us -your local manufacturing source- at (573) 437-4154.

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