Reports about supply shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic no longer dominate the headlines, but long delivery delays and soaring shipping costs continue to burden US companies. Writing for Bloomberg Businessweek, Brendan Murray explains the situation through the eyes of an Illinois plumbing supply company logistics manager, RoxAnne Thomas, who’s had to become inventive to keep supplies coming. Murray’s eye-opening piece offers the big picture as well as a glimpse of the human efforts behind complex transactions that consumers often experience as nothing more than a mouse click.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the global supply chain.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused major disruptions to the global supply chain, a complex system that brings goods produced in one part of the world to consumers in another part of the world. It starts with overseas shipping companies, which currently operate about 6,000 ships holding 25 million shipping containers.
Eighty-five percent of current shipping capacity is in the hands of only 10 companies, top among them Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S and China’s Cosco Shipping Holdings Co. Containers are unloaded at the world’s major ports, and then trains, trucks, smaller ships, planes, cranes and forklifts bring the goods to their final destination, such as warehouses, factories, stores or your home.
Freight costs on overseas shipping containers increased more than 12-fold in 2021.
Prior to the pandemic, corporate logistics managers – such as RoxAnne Thomas at Illinois-based Gerber Plumbing Fixtures (a wholesale unit of Taiwan’s Globe Union Industrial...