The Supply Chain Crisis Is About to Get a Lot Worse
How tech is tracking problems or predict where new ones might occur
The supply chain is in chaos —and it’s getting worse. Air freight warehouses at Shanghai Pudong Airport are log-jammed as a result of strict COVID testing protocols imposed on China’s biggest city following a local outbreak. At the city’s port, Shanghai-Ningbo, more than 120 container vessels are stuck on hold. In Shenzhen, a major manufacturing hub in the country’s south, trucking costs have shot up 300 percent due to a backlog of orders and a shortage of drivers following the introduction of similar COVID restrictions. Major ports the world over, which used to operate like clockwork, are now beset by delays, with container ships queuing for days in some of the worst congestion ever recorded. The list goes on.
More than a million containers due to travel to Europe from China by train—on a route that goes through Russia—must now make their journey by sea as sanctions bite. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has also severed key supply lines for nickel, aluminum, wheat and sunflower oil, causing commodity prices to skyrocket. Countries in the Middle East and Africa that rely on produce from Ukraine are likely to experience serious food shortages in the coming weeks and months. Some European automotive production lines have cut their output due to a shortage of wiring normally sourced from factories in Ukraine. If the pandemic, which triggered a surge in purchasing of goods, caused the global supply chain to buckle, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s continuing zero-COVID policy risk breaking it completely.
The supply chain is too complex, interconnected and fragile to be made completely immune to shocks, especially ones as seismic as a global pandemic or a major war. But a new reality is forcing companies to adopt new strategies to keep goods moving. In this reality, backlogs and breakdowns are the new normal, which makes getting ahead of disruptions as early as possible more important than ever.
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