A Warkworth expert in supply chains says householders should consider carefully the products they cannot do without as the world continues to grapple with disruptions caused by Covid-19.
University of Auckland Professor of Operations and Supply Chain management David Robb says Covid has affected the global supply chain in various ways, including creating unexpected demand for some products, delaying port upgrades, closing ports and shutting down manufacturing plants – notably in China, which is pursuing the same covid elimination strategy as NZ.
“Globally we have got huge issues in the supply chain. Currently, we have got 50 million shipping containers around the world, but many of them are in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he says.
Professor Robb says even where New Zealanders think they have a secure supply of a product such as milk it still vulnerable to global upheavals.
“Milk needs packaging and it needs processing and the machinery that processes milk requires spare parts and lubricants and most of these are imported,” he says.
“Anything that is imported is likely to face long lead times.”
At the household level, Professor Robb does not recommend hoarding items, but he does recommend careful planning to ensure people continue to have everything they need.
“Instead of waiting until you are down to four rolls of toilet paper, maybe you decide to replenish when you are down to eight,” he says.
He says products that everyone should think especially carefully about are ones that are imported and where there are a limited number of suppliers and few alternatives. Spare parts are a good example.
When Professor Robb noted the toner was running low for his printer recently, he ordered a few extra cartridges to give himself some extra security.
“Will your particular product run out? You don’t know, but you don’t want to take the risk that you can’t run, say, your computer for the next year if you are working from home,” he says.
Professor Robb likens such precautions to the amount in reserve people keep in their bank accounts.
“When you are in a crisis, you probably want to put a little more in there,” he says.