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I tend to do what I do best, procrastinate. Well, to feel better about myself, I like to think I am prioritizing. Either way, I have felt compelled to write about this supply chain crisis since White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki claimed President Joe Biden saved Christmas on Dec. 22. Nothing gets my blood boiling more than utter lies thrown in my face. How can someone say something so stupid, and how can so many people actually believe it? We have all seen the empty shelves for randomly illogical items, starting with toilet paper and now cat food.
With a very small engineering firm, there is a larger supply chain crisis that will be coming to a head in three to six months. We can’t get parts. I could go off on tangents, but let’s focus on just one major device. A PLC, or programmable logic controller, is a computer that runs actual stuff. Not things like a washer and dryer but how about the water that comes into your house, the water that leaves, the drawbridge that needs to go up, the MRI you desperately need. Almost everything you touch that is manmade uses one of these controllers at some point in the process.
To fulfill orders, my competition and I have been looking for other sources and substituting wherever we can. This is from sketchy suppliers to used parts on eBay. Now these people jacked the price up tenfold, and they are running out. New bids, which are mostly municipal, are getting a huge surcharge because we have no idea what something is going to cost or even if we can fulfill it. Many parts now have a six-month lead time. That means we won’t deliver, but we will be glad to take your money.
My medical controls experience is limited to a heart catheter surgical kit. It isn’t much, but I can’t change a fuse on the machine without a trail of paperwork, and don’t even try substituting anything. Major production companies will start slowing or shutting down because they are unable to get spare parts.
In the wastewater industry, most communities have 20-year-old equipment and older. That’s like 105 human years. Should one piece of this system fail, they may find replacement parts are just not available. When this happens, all you’ll hear on the news is there was a water main break. Here is an insider secret. It is almost never a water main break. It’s usually someone like me who hit the wrong key.
Other machines and systems are not so dramatic. But the problems are starting to add up and will soon hurt you in ways you will never know. Perhaps they are a product of these random shortages we are seeing. Toilet paper and cat food use the same controller. The terrible thing is we have a lot of work pending and are about to lay off workers that have nothing to do because we just can’t get parts. I have never seen anything like this, so I can’t even speculate.Published in