Supply Chain Challenges

You may or may not be aware of LEAN manufacturing, where things are either made to order, or produced based on long established demand patterns. The parts needed by one company may generate the order in hand at another company to build those parts. This series of relationships, or supply chains, can be many links long. The idea is to not have much inventory sitting in a warehouse, as inventory costs money.

The idea of having materials arrive as needed is not new. When the Empire State Building was constructed in 1930, the steel arrived on trucks each day from Pittsburg, about 375 miles away, and was hoisted into place. More recently however, with technology advancements and globalization, supply chains stretch around the planet.

While many manufacturers have redundant suppliers, the global pandemic of 2020 has caused chaos with supply chains. Work stoppages and factory shutdowns due to the pandemic mean some materials are in short supply. Demand for other products has actually spiked, when many re-oriented their lives to working from home. So, long established demand patterns and the capacity to support them, were upended by either capacity degradation, a demand increase, or both.

The same grade of silicon that goes into computer chips is used in the vials which vaccines are shipped in. Coupled with raw silicon supply disruptions, the result is not enough computer chips for the onboard systems that go into new automobiles.

Lumber is in short supply, and prices are spiking on that lumber which is available. Increasing lumber costs are adding $10K to $30K to the cost of home, depending on the size. Some builders have slowed new starts until lumber prices stabilize, while others are taking orders for homes, but they will not tell you the price until it is built. Demand is such that if one buyer declines the home once the price is set, other buyers are waiting.

While lumber and computer chips get a lot of press, examples are plenty of simple things that are hard to find. It slows projects and frustrates consumers. The home may get built but the desired appliances may be backordered six months.

The summer months, with kids out of school, is generally the peak season for home improvement projects. Whether you plan to do them yourself, or hire somebody, know that supply chain interruptions are creating products shortages. While many are vaccinated and masks are coming off, life is not yet back to normal. Plan ahead and have everything in hand before starting. You do not want to be mid project and find you cannot get whatever you need to finish it.

Mr. Handyman Serving Greater Jacksonville is still completing projects every day, but some have delayed starts to ensure all materials are in hand. In other cases, clients are going with a second (or even third) choice product so they can get their project done. Whoever you are working with, understand that this is the state of things right now.