Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (August 27, 2021)

What do you do when you check into an Airbnb house, go out to dinner, and then when you return to the house find a stranger sleeping in one of the bedrooms?

Get the hell out of the house (and find a hotel room) is what we did!

I’m guessing this real-life Goldilocks was passed out drunk or high on something because she did not stir at all while we got all of our stuff out of the house and back into the car. 

When the house owner got back to us after several calls, texts, and messages, he was as confused and troubled by the situation as we were. We received a full refund later that night and Airbnb called us to understand what happened.

The truth is I don’t understand what happened. I can only assume that the young woman asleep in that bedroom was familiar with the house (maybe a relative or friend of the owners?) and had a code to get into the house. None of our stuff was touched or taken. Goldilocks simply walked into the house, took off her shoes by the front door (which we noticed immediately and was our first clue that something was amiss), and went straight upstairs to bed.

Life is stranger than fiction sometimes. 

Fortunately, we were able to find a hotel room at that hour (at a highly inflated rate, considering it was move-in weekend at Cornell) and we spent some quality time with our son the next day (but we opted to drive home in the afternoon instead of staying another night as originally planned).

As for Goldilocks, maybe she found a new place to crash in, or is sitting alone at a Denny’s right now, thirsty with a headache, with no clue how she got there.

Or looking at the news below, maybe she’s an exhausted supply chain professional, wondering how she’s going to get through another week of delayed orders, skyrocketing rates, and containers stuck at sea.

Getting Around the Ocean Shipping Bottlenecks

All it takes is a single Covid case to shut down a major ocean shipping port for two weeks.

“The government in Ningbo has formally reopened facilities on Meishan Island, including the port area, after two weeks of lockdown restrictions triggered by a dock worker who contracted coronavirus,” reports Cichen Shen at Lloyd’s List. “The decision was made following consultation with the city’s epidemic-control specialists, local officials said at a press conference. They said no other positive cases had been detected after three rounds of swab tests involving 134,054 samples since the lockdown.”

According to the article:

The closure of Meishan, which accounts for about 20% of Ningbo’s total container throughput, has led to rerouting of vessels and further port congestion. Lloyd’s List Intelligence data show that there were still 97 containerships (10,000 dwt and above) comprising 477,414 teu at anchor off the ports of Ningbo-Zhoushan and nearby Shanghai on August 24.

This is just another example of the disruptions that are forcing companies to dig into their supply chain playbook for new ways to get their raw materials and finished products — and this usually means paying a whole lot more.

“Finance chiefs in the retail sector are paying up to ship goods by air instead of by ocean as they try to meet strong consumer demand amid ongoing production delays,” writes Kristin Broughton in the Wall Street Journal. Here are some excerpts from the article:

Backlogs at global shipping ports and local lockdown measures in countries such as Vietnam, where the Delta-variant is surging, are forcing retail executives to expedite shipments originally slated for ocean cargo. Those alternative modes of transport come at a higher cost, exacerbating inflationary pressures that finance executives are confronting elsewhere in their business.

VF Corp. , which owns apparel brands such as North Face, Vans and Supreme, plans to spend an additional $35 million on airfreight this fiscal year compared with the prior fiscal, or $25 million more than it initially planned, Chief Financial Officer Matt Puckett said.

Other shippers, such as Home Depot and Walmart, have secured dedicated ocean container ships to transport their goods. And as reported in the Wall Street Journal this week, “Schneider National Inc. is joining a rush to circumvent shipping bottlenecks by using chartered vessels to get containers stuffed with goods delivered to the U.S. in time for the holiday sales season.”

You gotta do what you gotta do. But it’s going to cost all of us.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get” by Morrissey