13 Feb 2023 Supply Chain Update
2023 PRINT INDUSTRY & SUPPLY CHAIN UPDATE
Staying informed is key to your success. That’s why we’ve put together this important supply chain update. Along with a few industry trends you should know about for 2023. Then, read our tips for how to get ahead of it all. With preparedness and resourceful thinking, you can lessen the impacts of these obstacles on your business. Read on to fortify your organization against the next big unexpected change.
As you plan marketing projects and business activities this year, keep these trends and impacts in mind.
Paper is still challenging to get.
We’re slowly recovering from the shortages originally caused by the pandemic. Paper issues are predicted to continue in the first half of 2023, with some relief coming in Q3 and Q4. (Source 2)Specialty stocks – such as colored papers or those with unique textures and finishes – are still difficult and more expensive to source. To ensure there’s enough to go around, paper mills are still allocating stock. This means ordering specific paper 4-6 weeks in advance of production, because materials may be out of stock or promised to someone else. (Source 1)
Transportation issues will persist.
Limited shipping port capacity, along with shortages of containers and trucks to transport them, as well as a lack of drivers, all equate hang-ups for transportation.
It’s taking longer to get all materials – not just paper – to complete projects. Things like bindery coils, display frames, and vinyl covers are also delayed.(Source 1)Account for extra time to get materials from suppliers and to ship finished products where they need to be.
There are less people in the workforce.
According to the US Chamber of Commerce, “There are around 3 million fewer Americans participating in the labor force today compared to February of 2020.” (Source 5)
We are experiencing delays in service technician availability to fix equipment. Supply replenishment is taking several weeks rather than overnight, due to insufficient resources to fulfill requests.
In addition, turnover for many teams is notably higher than in the past. New hires lack institutional knowledge, potentially causing further delays due to miscommunication or unclear expectations.
Start earlier to get things done on time. Assigning one team member who is familiar with your print projects to give “final approval” on everything can help avoid time and money wasting mistakes.
Geopolitical factors could change things rapidly.
Several shipping ports in Ukraine have been closed due to the conflict with Russia, congesting other ports and raising the cost of ocean freight. Routes that connect China to Europe are stalled. Especially the railway that travels through Russia, Belarus, and Poland before continuing to Germany, France, and other European countries. (Source 7)
Many coated stocks and other production supplies come from overseas. And just under 30% of the world’s goods are manufactured in China. (Source 6) With strict government lockdowns and zero-Covid policies, manufacturing and shipping operations there are delayed.
Stay flexible and make contingency plans for your bigger projects and events, just in case. (Source 4)
“Supply chains will continue to slowly heal. But healing will be erratic because the next disruption can come from anywhere, and a disruption in one part of these complex global networks can create disruptions in other parts. It isn’t a simple matter of fixing one isolated link.” (Source 1)
HOW TO GET AHEAD
The purpose of this supply chain update is to inform you about potential obstacles. Now, let’s go over a few ways you can minimize their impact on your outcomes.
“Planning ahead” is the baseline.
Don’t crunch yourself against a tight deadline by thinking you have ‘plenty of time’ a month before your in-hands date. Projects that took 1-2 weeks in years past are now taking 3-4 weeks, or more in some cases. Adjust your timelines accordingly.
Did you know that we can often order your desired paper ahead of when you need it? We just need a few details. Having your stock pre-ordered can help reduce your overall project timelines.
And it allows you to continue planning without stressing about materials!
We’re your new work BFF.
Talk to us early and often to make sure we’re in on all your plans and can get the right materials here to produce what you need, when you need it. We can also help you source alternate materials, products, and production methods to reduce turnaround times and save you money.
Create “just in case” plans upfront.
Plan your projects, events, and marketing activities in two ways this year – one based on today’s reality, and one based on what the world could look like if something changes. What if you suddenly couldn’t get materials from overseas?
Don’t just say you’ll find an alternative – have one picked out and quoted.
WE’RE STAYING LOOSE AND READY.
We’ve been stockpiling materials, working closely with our vendors, and sourcing options to make sure we have access to what we need throughout the year – so you will, too.