(CBS Baltimore) – The supply chain consists of the many steps that bring a product to the customer. But at the moment the chain seems to be broken or at least squashed in places. The shelves are partially empty, deliveries are delayed and prices are rising. Bottlenecks in many steps keep products out of the hands of the consumer. It is unclear when the supply chain will normalize again. And the economy pays the price.
Any company’s supply chain can begin with suppliers of raw materials and other inputs. As soon as a product is manufactured, it travels along the network from the factory via a warehouse to a store and finally to the end customer. Various agents, brokers, sellers, transportation companies, and distribution centers can play a key role in ensuring that a product is manufactured and reaches its final destination.
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The supply chain is not working as it should, thanks to a host of issues exacerbated by the global COVID pandemic. In the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, cargo ships with around half a million containers full of goods from various countries in Asia are waiting to be unloaded. After unloading, a lack of truck drivers prevents these containers from leaving the ports on time. Rail terminals, to which trucks deliver goods for the next stage of the journey, are supplemented with containers for onward transport, which in turn also block arriving trains. Should these goods somehow make it to a warehouse, the labor shortage will limit their timely processing.
And these are just some of the problems.
A global shortage of microchips, exacerbated by winter storms in Texas that affected domestic production, is slowing the production of automobiles and various electronic devices. China, where many consumer goods destined for America are manufactured, is suffering from an ongoing energy crisis that is limiting production. And manufacturers in many other countries with lower vaccination rates have suffered standstills and labor shortages due to the spread of the Delta variant.
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All of this happened when a shift in spending caused by COVID dramatically increased the demand for a wide variety of products. The situation is fluid and will likely remain so during the Christmas season and into the New Year.
CBS Local has the latest supply chain news from its markets across the country. We update this list regularly. So check back regularly for the latest news on the situation.
A deep look at the supply chain crisis:
Supply chain problems: “Problems are really everywhere”, even for small businesses
A look at how supply chain issues are affecting consumers across the country:
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