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To put it simply, the boat got stuck. Granted, it was a really big boat (one of the world’s largest container vessels the size of the Empire State building) and it got stuck in a really important place (where 12% of the world trade volume passes on the quickest route between Asia and Europe). One stuck boat stopped 369 other ships, held up $9.6bn of goods a day, for six days, and the downstream effects have still yet to be seen. The blockage of the Suez Canal was yet another major disruption to the already-distressed supply chain industry, after a shortage of semiconductors and the power outage in Texas, not to mention that we are still, unfortunately, dealing with the turmoil of the global pandemic.

“[The blockage] means longer shipping times, less stock availability, more money tied up in goods at sea, rather than in our warehouses, and it means more stress,” said Thomas O’Brien, managing director of toy manufacturer Boxer Gifts. When the unexpected strikes, stress is an absolute certainty for any business owner who deals directly with manufacturers. Alone, they must assess the risk of decisions on production, shipping, and inventory, often eating costs because they cannot afford to upset their clients. We live and work in an instant gratification society, where an owner can make a purchase from the computer in their pocket and have it arrive the same-day via drone, and yet one boat can get stuck in Egypt and suddenly their entire livelihood is thrown in jeopardy.

We are all inescapably tied to the random happenings of life, but when you partner with a supply chain logistics team like ForeFront, you will be more protected. We have the resources to make other arrangements to prevent issues before they occur. We collect and analyze data on your business to make smarter choices. We can reduce production, lean in on our vendor relationships and pull strings, or arrange for a production elsewhere to airship. To put it simply, we have ideas and options to fight for you, and good luck getting a manufacturer to help you out when you’re in a bind and your life is on the line. For example, one of our largest accounts, a large bakery in Chicago, has very sporadic usage and leans on us heavily to keep them in stock. They have no clue the number of challenges and issues that we have to deal with to keep them running smoothly and we like it that way. All they see are calm waters, but in reality, we are pulling lots of strings to make it all come together like clockwork. Call us for a no-obligation review of your supply chain process. Smooth sailing is in your future.