MIDDLEPORT — Anyone who has ordered online in the past few months has probably experienced a delay in delivery and out of stock products. This is due in part to the surge in consumer demand from e-commerce following the coronavirus outbreak which began in 2020.
Not only are consumers affected, businesses are being impacted. The recovering economy over the past several months put an even greater strain on the supply chain with an increase in retail and manufacturer requests for goods.
Many firms are experiencing supply chain disruptions, including the Imperial Electric facility in Middleport, Ohio. Like other manufacturing companies, their ability to produce is dependent on the receipt of parts. In Imperial’s case, the materials are made in China and shipped to the United States, a process, according to Plant Manager Mark Venoy, which is now frustratingly slow.
“In the past we were door-to-door with our orders in 34 days,” Venoy said. “Now it is taking 80 to 100. What used to take a day to arrive from Columbus now may take up to three weeks because it is waiting to be unloaded, which requires a chassis operator, and then there aren’t any drivers, it is frustrating to be in this situation when it is out of your control.”
The process is complex, there are many moving parts, from the manufacturing of the product to its delivery. Venoy explained the process: the parts are shipped from China to the port in Los Angeles, where they are offloaded onto a railway car. The train goes through Chicago, Ill. to its destination in Columbus, where it is again offloaded onto a truck for delivery to Middleport.
The delay of parts needed to manufacture the equipment they are known for, high-quality electric motors that are used to move elevators and escalators, inhibits their ability to fulfil orders in a timely manner. He said their customers are frustrated too, so they are kept informed with updates and tentative schedules.
“That’s the best we can do right now. Our customers know that we are doing the best we can under the circumstances, they are having supply chain issues of their own.”
There is a strong demand for Imperial’s products, but Venoy knows it may be some time before the supply chain is back to normal. He acknowledged that there isn’t a quick fix to the very complex global supply chain issue.
According to the Atlanta based consulting firm Process Economics, the surge in demand has exceeded the capacity of the global logistics and transportation infrastructure in the United States, which was optimized for different conditions than those currently being experienced. They further stress that it will take awhile to adjust to the shock and reach a new equilibrium.
Congressman Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) met with Imperial management and invited guests including Middleport Mayor Fred Hoffman, and Meigs County Commissioner Shannon Miller on Friday.
In a statement, Johnson said: “The supply chain disruptions that we’re hearing and reading about are real – and they’re hitting Americans and businesses like Nidec Imperial Electric hard all over the country. That’s certainly the case here, and we’re seeing how Imperial Electric’s operations are being affected. The Biden administration has to get serious about this before it gets even worse. If this crisis persists, job creators like Imperial Electric right here in Middleport are going to be in an even tougher spot.”
Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.