New Brunswick, N.J. (Nov. 17, 2021) – Rutgers University–New Brunswick faculty experts are available to discuss the causes, consequences and solutions around global supply chain issues, including congested shipping ports and the upcoming holiday shopping season.
Weihong “Grace” Guo, assistant professor, Rutgers Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
“The pandemic has caused disruptions to our global supply chain on many levels, impacting transportation, reducing production and causing shortages in raw materials, products and workers, and it’s not just a one-time hit but with lingering effects,” said Guo. “There is no doubt the supply chain has not fully recovered and is still struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels. During the holiday shopping season, we may have higher prices, longer waiting times and delayed deliveries. To strengthen the supply chain, we need the government, the private sector, the workforce and the academia to develop comprehensive solutions.”
Fred Roberts, Distinguished professor, Rutgers Department of Mathematics, and director of U.S. Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence CCICADA: Command, Control and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analysis
“Supply chains are complex and tend to be quite resilient to disruptions. However, when complex, interrelated disruptions take place, that resilience is tested,” said Roberts. “The present disruptions, taking place in the context of a supply chain that has not yet recovered from a world-wide pandemic, is illustrating such complex, interrelated disruptions, including labor shortages, containers displaced or in short supply and the results of pent-up demand and available cash.”
Rudi Leuschner, associate professor, Rutgers Department of Supply Chain Management; director of the Master of Science in Supply Chain Management program at Rutgers Business School
“We are facing multiple, confounding issues spanning entire supply chains,” said Leuschner. “Most prominently around them are shortages of raw materials, energy cost inflation and shortages, manufacturing transportation delays and warehouse shortages, as well as an overall labor shortage. All of this is the case while we have unprecedented demand for goods all across the board. The problem in solving these issues is that solving one of them will not get us back to normal. The quickest we are going back to normal is when seasonal demand declines and supply chains have a chance to get back to some equilibrium. There are short-term remedies, such as addressing choke-points at the ports and relaxing rules around hours of service, but those remedies won’t improve the challenges.”
David Dreyfus, assistant professor, Rutgers Department of Supply Chain Management
On health care supply: “I don’t think people should be worried about access to health care during the holidays,” said Dreyfus. “People should return to their routine visits, so that changes in health are detected. There are many stories of people forgoing care during the pandemic who missed out on serious medical diagnoses. With COVID, we saw many supply chain issues surrounding personal protection equipment (PPE) and other basic supplies and medicines, but these have been overcome at the moment. Long term, there has been little changed with regards to how PPE is sourced and inventoried. Thus, our healthcare system remains vulnerable to future pandemics.”
On retail: “Manufacturers are constrained by worker and material availability. Logistic providers are constrained by the availability of shipping containers and trucks, as well as workers at ports and truck drivers. Those who supply their customers are spending more on shipping costs, which are driving prices higher. Consumer choices at stores are becoming limited with fewer goods being delivered. Those who wait to the last minute to shop for holiday dinners and gifts may be discouraged by the options available.”
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