Supply chain disruptions were a widespread problem throughout the COVID crisis, but it seems that even now, with problems widely winding down, the logistics industry certainly isn't out of the woods yet. That reality became more evident in recent weeks, with some of the biggest companies in the world announcing that they continue to be dogged by difficulties in procurement, delivery and more.
That includes General Electric and 3M, both of which announced that they were seeing strong demand for their offerings but were not able to confidently project when they could follow through on such demand even as COVID difficulties decline nationwide, according to CNBC. In fact, many of these issues came as a result of difficulties in procuring raw materials and other component parts of their products, such as electronics.
Of course, these companies make many products that other major businesses rely on to create their own offerings, and it's expected that their ups and downs — which have led to higher prices — will have an impact on other companies further down the supply chain, the report said. This includes big names such as Boeing and Caterpillar.
A closer look
Interestingly, despite the early issues experienced in 2021 to date, 3M said that it is still on track to hit its initial forecasts for full-year earnings and sales growth, and some outside observers think that might actually be erring on the side of caution, according to Reuters. That's due in part to the fact that 3M already beat its first-quarter estimates, and because many of their products relate to cleaning — which is obviously of high importance in the current climate.
However, the company noted in announcing its financial results that the global economic recovery remains in a highly volatile place. Some regions are getting close to being "back to normal" in terms of high vaccination rates and relaxed COVID protocols, while others very much are not, the report said. As such, many of even the largest and best-known businesses in the world are still playing a game of wait-and-see.
Down the line
If some of the biggest companies in the world are still somewhat at the mercy of COVID, it stands to reason that the reverberations of these problems will be felt all the way down to the smallest of businesses, according to Business Insider. Obviously, it's not just the pandemic that's the problem, because businesses are still digging out from the delays caused by severe winter weather in the American South, the Suez Canal blockage, back orders, work stoppages and more. In many cases, just to expedite shipping and ensure their place at the "front of the line," companies are buying products at prices many times what they normally see.
This is obviously not the kind of thing many within the supply chain can plan for directly. However, it does underscore the importance of being able to pivot to new suppliers as needed and always prioritize being nimble during the most trying times for the industry as a whole, or just their particular corner of it.