Archives September 2021

Chain Reaction Podcast A Bevy of Black Swans: Reflections on Recent Disruptions

This episode takes a retrospective view of supply chain disruptions during the Pandemic. In it we examine the rhetoric of policy makers and the realities of disruption and in some cases the supply chain chaos caused by a failure of planning and execution. Evidence for the claims is brought into focus. Some of the unusual events were certainly that but were they really ‘Black Swans’. One could argue that if it is something beyond experience it is rightly described as a ‘black swan moment’ and yet we also see failures of adequate planning and execution that caused disruptions that might have been avoided.

Chain Reaction Podcast Energy Cost and Food Chain Disruption

Energy Supply, Cost and Disruption
This week's episode takes a closer look at energy cost and food chain disruptions occurring in the supply chain.  Energy usage in the UK still dominated by fossil fuel 47 per cent Gas and 2 per cent Coal. Last week the UK had to bring back a coal source when wind powered fell short of the target.

Border Controls and Food Supply Disruption
Border controls post Brexit have been called useless by Marks and Spencer saying they are not fit for purpose. It is not food that's in short supply according to Archie Norman but lorry drivers. Ian Wright of the Food and Drink Federation says big suppliers are prepared and the impact is highest on smaller suppliers.

UK Competitiveness
Britain's trade with the EU have fallen by £1.7 billion in July according to ONS statistics published last week.  There is some concern about UK competitiveness if the trend persists. Most commentators think it is only temporary.

Shipping Hold Ups
Shipping pressures remain as economies open up. Ship availability is in short supply along with container boxes. Ships are lining up at ports in Los Angeles. One executive noted that four weeks ago there were 40 waiting and this week there are 75 so it appears the problem is worsening.

Supply Chain Geography impact on cost
Time, cost and quality are essential ingredients in supply chains as we manage risk and complexity in networks of suppliers. The geography of supply chains became less relevant during the past 30 years but it now appears that geography is important to manage risk and build resilient supply chains.  Tony Hines discusses what this means for supply chain strategies and just-in-time systems.  Agility is necessary when supply chains are disrupted. Rethinking supply chains puts transport logistics at risk. It is more than just geography it is the economics of the geography along with the balance of risk and cost.

Where there's a will there's a way
What can government do to overcome HGV driver shortages. Tony Hines offers some policy choices that could be enacted immediately.

Disruption caused by a shortage of CO2
This has been caused by the increasing cost of gas energy.

Chain Reaction Podcast Fix the Weakest Link in Your Supply Chain

In this week's episode we follow up from last time and discuss what went wrong with supply chains in the past eighteen months and how to fix the weakest links in your supply chains.

Tony Hines makes the distinction between two types of problem that disrupt supply chains. His type 1 problem is one caused by issues in a particular supply chain. Type 2 problems are systemic and effect all supply chains. He gives specific examples of the two types he has identified and offers some suggestions on how to deal with them.

Pallet Board Problems Stateside (US)
Also in this episode is the problem in the USA with regard to pallet boards and a brief explanation of why it is happening.

Visibility in Your Supply Chain
Visibility is of paramount importance if you want to know where everything is in your supply chain to avoid disruptions and to plan for them when the data in your dashboard reveals the signals of trouble ahead.

Labour Problems and Supply Chain Disruption
Continuing problems with labour shortages are discussed in the US, UK and EU. The impact this is having on the farm to fork supply chain is permanent according to Ian Wright CEO of the Food and Drinks Federation (UK). Brexit has been the cause of much disruption in the UK Supply Chain and the Norther Ireland protocol is disrupting supplies to supermarkets there. 

Chain Reaction Podcast Retail Logistics Disruptions and Resilience

Since the pandemic began in 2020 disruption to supply chains has become expected.  Transport is at the centre of getting the right goods to the customer in the right place, at the right time and at the right price. On time and complete delivery was the mission for those delivering supply chain promises. Retail Logistics has been responsible for some great innovations in combining technologies to deliver goods to stores and their customers. It employs people in farms and production centres across the globe. Goods then have to be transported by road, rail and ship to their market destinations, wholesalers, retail customers and consumers. There are many challenges that retail logistics face beyond the normal supply chain issues such as natural disasters, crop failures, wars and government policies to name but a few. Each challenge brings with it a unique situation that retailers have to vercome to keep supply chains moving to deliver on time and complete. Retail supply chains have to be resilient. When the Covid 19 Pandemic emerged in March 2020 no one realised at that point all the challenges that supply chains would face. By April and May it became clear that there were problems getting personal protective equipment (PPE), Medical Supplies including ventilators and medicines. As people became sick with Covid and lockdowns closed production units and retail stores supply chains became stretched and cracks occurred in the system. The UK was continuing with its never ending saga of Brexit and that caused its own problems for retailers, food supply chains, fisheries and many other categories of goods brought into the UK from the EU or exported to it. Shortages began to emerge in supermarkets and customers began to stockpile food and household items at home. It got a lot worse before getting marginally better. However, by Christmas there were hold ups at UK Ports and the beauracracy introduced by all the new regulations and customs requirements added days to deliveries. Many EU  HGV drivers based in the UK retunred home to countries in Europe since they could no longer work in the UK due to the removal of 'freedom of movement'. Today it is estimated that there is a shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers and this is and has caused immense disruption to food supplies and other goods. In March 2021 The Ever Given owned by Evergreen ran aground in the Suez Canal and remained stuck in the middle of the canal for more than a week. It caused massive disruption estimated to be in the region of $10 million (US). Even when the ship moved allowing other ships to pass through they were now off schedule and empty contaner boxes had not returned to their next port for loading. This put pressure on container prices pushing them up by 5-600 per cent from just a year ago. Ships were also in short supply to move goods.Disruption to shipping and shipments of goods from China to Europe and the US has caused major delays for customers getting their supplies. Since 70 per cent of all goods are moved by seafreight this is no small problem. The Pandemic closed some major Chinese ports such as Yantian. It was pleasing to see the Ever Globe travel from Ningbo in China to Felixstowe in just 35 days so some sailings are getting back to normal. Looking at shipping more generally most of the world's big container ships are now built in the Far East in China, South Korea and Japan. These modern container ships are huge with the lates additions to the Evergreen fleet able to carry 23,600 TEUs. A much smaller vessel the MOL Comfort had its hull break in half enroute from Shanghai to Jedda some years back when carrying just 4,300 TEUs half of its actual capacity. So these larger vessels are cause for concern. The ships now being built all run on Diesel Oil so it will be interesting to see if the shipping industry is likely to contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions by 2050.

Chain Reaction Podcast Empty Shelves For Christmas

In this episode of Chain Reaction Tony Hines revisits some of the stories he covered in the past few months and gives an update on those disruptions in global supply chains. Shipping containers in short supply with sky high prices likely to push up prices at the store. Driver shortages in the UK since Brexit means idle trucks and disruptions to supply.  See how labour shortages are affecting food supplies too. The National Farmers Union want the government to allow EU workers to help out in UK farming at harvest time. Empty shelves are a growing problem in the food supply chain. Milk supplies in the UK have been disrupted too with many dairy farmers having to throw it away. We revisit the shortage of microchips and how that is affecting vehicle production supply chains. Will the switch off of the 3G networks disrupt your tracking technology? Will your supply chain still be visible? Carriers have been investing their profits in new container vessels due for delivery in 2023 and beyond see how this is likely to help global supply chains. There are also some tips of how to stay ahead of the game in these volatile times.