Waves of volatility have wracked the manufacturing supply chain for the better part of two years now. While improving, supply chain disruptions still present challenges to our industry. In this article, I examine three major industries to see which supply chain problems they share and to consider a solution.
Aerospace. Commercial airlines were among the first to truly be dealt a blow by the pandemic, but fortunately the way most airlines plan out production needs years in advance buffers against supply chain unpredictability. However well insulated the industry is, supply chain issues are still expected to impact it. The Russia-Ukraine conflict is affecting air travel, oil prices and material delivery at the same time it spurs many countries’ defense sectors to order more aircraft production. Additionally, Ukraine and Russia are both among the top producers of titanium, a critical manufacturing material.
Automotive. As opposed to the aerospace industry, many automotive manufacturers are still straining to meet demand. Even major manufacturers like Toyota, which had ordered huge advance batches of microchips, still struggled to deal with the supply chain issues the microchip shortage and the Suez Canal blockage caused. These days it is not unheard of for a customer to be promised microchip installation after purchase.
Manufacturers that have all the components to produce a full suite of automotive parts are now focusing on reducing cycle time to get cars on the road as fast as possible. General Motors is approaching this by dropping luxury features such as heated seats to focus on the quick production of functional cars.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict is affecting air travel, oil prices and material delivery at the same time it spurs many countries’ defense sectors to order more aircraft production. Photo Credit: Getty Images
Medical. The medical industry has been hit on all sides by the pandemic and the subsequent supply chain failures. According to health care logistics firm Owens & Minor, 45% of medical supplies are in some way supply constrained. The biggest contributors to the medical manufacturing industry’s strain are the lockdowns in China, congested ports and lack of manpower to transport products over land.
Several common stressors become apparent here, including growing geopolitical constraints, some remaining backlogged ports, a shortage of truck drivers and increased cost of transportation due to elevated oil prices. Savvy parts customers will be looking to find more local manufacturers, and those local shops must be ready. Any machine shop, no matter its size, can be successful securing these jobs if they focus on the following:
While 2022’s supply chain problems have been a headache, they may bring some good with them: the “in-shoring” of more jobs and the revitalization of local economies.
About the Author
With more than 35 years’ experience in the CAD/CAM software industry, Moffat is responsible for sales, marketing, partnerships, education and applications engineering for Mastercam CAD/CAM software.
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