April 1, 2021
If someone gave the logistics industry a motto, it would probably be “expect the unexpected.” It’s not uncommon for seemingly small events to disrupt an entire industry. From port strikes to the Suez Canal, there’s always something unforeseen around the corner.
We’re taking a look at some of the most impactful industry disrupters from the last few years.
The Ever Given
By this point, you must have heard the news that the Ever Given, which had been blocking the Suez Canal, has finally been freed. However, the cargo ship was stuck in the Suez Canal for six consecutive days and seven hours, during which experts estimate the ship cost the economy upwards of $60 billion.
It’s astounding, in retrospect, the amount of disruption caused by a single ship, and the turmoil isn’t over. Rerouted ships will continue their voyages, and the incident has shed a new light on the amount of influence a single canal has over the world’s trade. Discussions of liability and how to handle canals moving forward will impact the industry for months to come.
The 2015 Long Beach and LA Port Strikes
It may be hard for some industry veterans to believe it, but the Long Beach and LA Port strikes happened over five years ago. For those who may not remember, the strike and negotiations lasted for nine months and involved about 14,000 workers. It was spurred from dockworkers and employers trading blame over import and export delays in the industry and perceived shortcomings on both sides.
The ports at the time had been in the process of recovering from congestion, which made the dispute particularly powerful. Produce rotted on docks as ships waited to be loaded. The dispute was so influential that it impacted inventory and consumers. In the end, even the current president, Barack Obama, got involved by telling the companies and strikers to resolve the issue or take it to Washington.
As COVID-19 swept across the globe, ports and countries alike opened and closed on sporadic schedules. Carriers and supply chain managers were left scrambling to ensure much-needed supplies made their way to all sides of the world, all while ensuring the virus didn’t spread.
Clearly, the impact of COVID-19 is still being felt today. Although vaccination efforts have begun, not all countries are having consistent or effective rollouts. Many supply chain managers and consumers alike are shortsighted in this, assuming that as soon as their country is vaccinated, life will be “back to normal.” In truth, the world will continue to function under unpredictable conditions until global immunity has been reached.
Supply chain disruptions, whether predictable or not, can have a huge and lasting impact on economies and the logistics industry as a whole. All it takes is one boat to run aground to reroute the industry and revive a century-old trade route.
Businesses should prepare contingency plans for unexpected situations and be certain to set aside budgets for unplanned spend. Additionally, All-Risk Cargo Insurance can help protect against cargo impacted by weather or other destructive events. Reach out to your TOC representative for tips on how to make sure your supply chain is prepared for the unexpected.