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JUST WHAT EXACTLY IS A SUPPLY CHAIN AND HOW DOES A LOUSY VIRUS SCREW THEM UP SO INCREDIBLY WELL!


Recently, I have had quite a few people ask
me in the course of small talk, what exactly is this "supply chain" talk they are hearing about again regarding the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus.    They've heard the horror stories on   
 toilet paper or disinfectants in many stores.  Now we've heard of hoarders over-stocking their own homes or selling these products on the street corner at inflated prices.  Many people ask how can this be; what causes this; we are in the 21st century; etc.

I remember the start of this current problem back in the 1960s (perhaps earlier) with the start of such programs as MRP (Materials Requirement Planning), but certainly not limited to this program and parlaying further into programs and schemes like J-I-T (Just-In-Time).  Bottom line and perhaps over-simplified, these programs were and are intended to speed up production and cut costs.  There are newer and greater programs like Lean, etc.  

But for the average person to understand what Supply Chain Management (SCM) is, I came across a very nice and simple explanation of what SCM is really all about.   This graphic on SCM appeared in the Wall Street Journal on August 27, 2021.  It was prepared by Austen Hufford, Kyle Kim, and Andrew Levinson.  Thank you for this.  This graphic shows and tells us how a product (a hot tub) in this case is manufactured using 60,000 parts from across oceans and continents using trucks, planes, container ships, and trains.  This is really worth taking a look at.

Now that Hurricane Ida has recently hit the Gulf Coast of the USA with all of its petroleum platforms and the chemical farms and manufacturing plants between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, you now have manufacturing issues that will slow down the production of solvents and other products used in making disinfectants, laundry powders and so many other things.  Add to this the increase in the Delta variant in Asia and you will unquestionably see a slowdown in products people will be buying for their holiday purchases.  Both of these articles are from The New York Times.  

The bottom line is that it will be at least a year if not more before this whole Supply Chain Management mess resolves itself and that assumes no more Ida's or Delta's or anything similar come our way.

Happy Holidays early!  Ugh!

Bob Jacobson

9/4/2021  




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