By PJ O’Connor, Vice President, Client Initiatives, OC Reilly Inc.

(April 7, 2021)–Well, they finally got that little logjam cleared in the Suez Canal.

The Ever Given – a massive cargo container ship nearly as long as the Empire State Building is high – got wedged sideways into one of the world’s most critical shipping lanes for nearly a week, throwing deliveries of consumer products, cars, oil, even animals, into convulsive fits all over the planet.

But, if nothing else, the saga of the Ever Given did produce one positive. It shone the brightest spotlight on the importance of supply chain seen in a long, long time. Each day the Ever Given sat, blocking all trade in or out of the canal, it disrupted more than $9 billion worth of goods, which translates to about $400 million per hour.

Supply chain is one of those disciplines that only get noticed when things go wrong. That’s what makes it so easy to take for granted the skill and knowledge required to perform it consistently well.

As with so many aspects of our modern society, the COVID-19 pandemic has torn the cover off of underlying issues affecting supply chain – including its impact on health care, which we at OC Reilly see on a daily basis. The pandemic has created extreme demand for personal protective equipment (PPE). Travel limitations continue to cause delays in imports and exports causing mass delays. Even Mother Nature is piling on, with a recent hurricane in Puerto Rico shutting down manufacturers of common IV solutions, causing shortages.

Today’s almost immediate access to consumer goods has only exacerbated expectations of supply chain customers. We hear our end-user clients, such as hospital clinical staff, bemoan the fact that they can pick up a phone and have nearly anything delivered to their house tomorrow, but they have trouble getting the right medical supply delivered to the hospital consistently. It’s hard to argue with that point, but that’s why having supply chain experts working diligently on your behalf remains so important.

We see stories like the Ever Given on the news and it becomes easy to wave it away, saying it really doesn’t impact us here. But that’s the very danger of the situation. Whether it’s a gigantic cargo ship in a vital world waterway, or a tanker truck spilling its load all over a U.S. Interstate, the result is the same. Some organization – relying on receiving the product on that vessel for its just-in-time manufacturing process or a promised delivery to an end-user or a critical lifesaving drug for a patient clinging to life – will not get what they’re expecting on time, or at the price they expected.

That’s the absolutely essential role of proper supply chain management. To anticipate these issues and have a plan to minimize their impact. To know the rules and make them work for the client, no matter what. The professionals at OC Reilly live and breathe this every day. Contact us to learn more.

© 2021 OC Reilly, Inc.