The last two years have seen the recurrent theme of stresses and failures in supply chains, and how this affects everything from the right fizzy drink being in your glass, to whether or not your new garden furniture will arrive before August.
Largely the attention has been on container shipping, first with China’s shutdowns, followed by the reopening of factories and ports – and consequent shipping surge, and then, of course, the Ever Given blocking the Suez Canal didn’t exactly help things.
It’s not just container shipping, however, that has been met with complications. Another issue the UK, and most of Europe has had to contend with, is the shortage of hauliers. Along with Britain’s lockdown penchant for extending homes and building decks came a bit of a standstill at some ports. Prices were sky high due to the demand for wood products, the shipments made it to port, but large volumes of timber and other construction products dwelled longer than they needed to on the Port of Sheerness because there simply weren’t enough drivers available to move everything.
Ports have actually been extremely resilient through these challenging times, continuing to load and unload, and move and dispatch despite the pressures and pulls of pestilence and potty politics. But everything still needs to work in concert to get that thingamajig shifted from Shenzhen to Sheffield. Stuff doesn’t just magically appear on the shelves or on your doorstep, but through the conjuring of joined-up logistics, if everything operates in tandem, it can certainly provoke a hocus pocus focus.