Chain Reaction Podcast Timing is Everything

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Timing is everything says Tony Hines when it comes to achieving supply chain advantage. Whether it is how long it takes to procure goods, process work-flows or transport goods (raw materials, work-in-progress or finished inventories) to the customer. Time endows advantage. Of course time can also be a problem if you do not manage it well. Managing time in supply chains is a risk. Ther are uncertainities beyond your control that give rise to risks that you may not have factored in. Even the most savvy supply chain professionals are subject to it. Take the current issues in global supply chains with ports experiencing delays in handling cargo. Satelite pictures of ports in California showed about seventy ships lining up waiting to discharge containers at Los Angeles. Long Beach too has delays. About 40 per cent of US Container traffic passes through these two ports. In the UK too at Felixstowe which handles about 36 per cent of the UK container traffic there are similar problems. In the US it has been taking up to 14 days to get ships into port and in the UK 6 days. There is also increased dwell time in turning around containers. It has risen form 4 days to 10 in the UK. The Biden Administration brought those involved in the US crisis to the table to discuss practical solutions and gain commitments.  This is seen as a postive move and parties are keen to operate ports 24/7 to get the job done. In the UK the underlying problem is the shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers to clear the ports and get containers in the right places. Time is everything because these delays are costly for everyone the shippers, the ports, the hauliers, the customers and those managing the various operations. A number of large retailers have been agile in trying to manage the risk by hiring their own vessels to move goods. These are generally smaller ships to weave in between the larger ships and to drop cargo at smaller facilities to avoid the backlogs. Home Depot's Sara Caliga said the idea started as a joke saying they would charter the ships themselves to get the job done but that's exactly what they have done. Wal-Mart said their strategy was to hire smaller ships to move goods more quickly. IKEA, Target and Costco are all doing something similar. Cocal Cola said it was using smaller vessels usually used for grain or coal to move their products around. In the UK the John Lewis Partnership runs 34 department stores and about 374 Waitrose Stores and it too committed to charter ships on 16th September to ensure they had supplies for the run up to Christmas. Hiring ships is not cheap. It is also not a skill expected of retailers to run the shipping operation so it will be interesting to see how they do. These retailers are looking to secure the high velocity inventories the goods that make them most profit. Listen to the podcast and find out more.

Electricity shortages in China have impacted production capacity as factories in some of the biggest industrial areas have had to close. This is in addition to the problems experienced from the pandemic shutdowns that occur with China's no tolerance policy to Covid. This will mean more disruptions to some goods. Recent closures in Vietnam have also seen some production move from their to China but Vietnam is now opening up again. 

The UK is still impacted from the HGV driver shortage (100,000) meaning goods are not moving as quickly as they should. This is impacting the UK's largets container ports. This week the reintroduction of cabotage by the UK Government means that EU drivers can do more pick ups in the UK but this has not gone down well with UK hauliers who fear their work will be taken away by EU firms.