On The Slow Boat From China

On the day before she returned to Florida from our usual annual vacation, my mother was finally able to get in touch with my stepfather on the phone to chat, and when she did she found out that he had been suffering from the air conditioner breaking down. Now, some of us (unfortunately) live without an air conditioner on a normal basis, which is becoming more and more unpleasant on a yearly basis, but when it comes to living in Florida, it is absolutely intolerable to live without air conditioning for any lengthy period of time for the vast majority of people, myself definitely included. Given that the air compressor failed under warranty, one would think that it would be a straightforward matter to deal with such a problem. The manufacturer and servicer would know that the heat in Florida is no joke and would have supplies to handle such a problem and it would get fixed rapidly.

Alas, that was not the case. First, the manufacturer dragged their feet about the availability of the product, giving overly optimistic estimates of when things would be in stock before informing us that it would take at least another couple of weeks or so before the air conditioner was able to be repaired. After that, of course, the offending part (the compressor and I think one other related part that was causing the air conditioner not to work) was sent a rather slow way to the installers and repairers in Florida. In the meantime, of course, people have to cope with the ridiculous Florida summer heat, and it was fortunate that my mother and stepfather were able to stay with some frens [1] until the problem was fixed, which hopefully should allow for some good conversations and feeling better in the meantime than it would in a house that is staying ridiculously hot because of a malfunctioning AC.

It can be hard to think of logistics and supply chain matters as they move from what can seem like a boring and abstract problem to a very personal sort of problem, but this sort of anecdotal tale can be helpful in getting us to realize why logistics and supply chain management matter. When things need to be repaired or replaced, we depend on there being an availability of parts or products to do so, as well as people who are able to facilitate in that repairing or replacing. Neither of these matters can be taken for granted. For a variety of reasons, it can be hard to get supplies and parts that one needs, because materials for the parts are difficult to find or because there has been insufficient attention paid to storage and warehousing needs where “just-in-time” becomes “way-too-late.” In addition to the difficulty in getting parts and products in the first place, getting them where they need to be is also not always as straightforward a task as it should be. While heavy products cannot be expected to be sent airborne, they need not take so long that they seem to be coming on the slow boat from China either.

If you, dear readers, have any sort of recent experience with similar problems of logistics and supply chain management, I encourage you to share your stories in the comments with me and with other readers. It is my suspicion, and has been for quite a few years, that we live in an age where matters of maintenance and logistics have been neglected because they are not immediately profitable, even though they matter greatly to the experience of the user. When the behavior that is undertaken by businesses as well as the government is divorced from the well-being of the people, this sort of problem becomes increasingly common. We witness this evil tendency, for example, in the desire of some incompetent bureaucrats to push electronic vehicles when even the existing ones already produced place massive potential strain on our electrical grid and when supplies of such vehicles would be wholly inadequate to provide even some of the replacement vehicles needed if one wanted to shift driving habits while maintaining the current number of vehicles or anything close to it. When businesses and governments cease to even pretend to care about the ordinary person and their experience, suffering is the lamentable and inevitable consequence. And we have only begun to suffer.

[1] This is a deliberate spelling. Those who know, know.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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2 Responses to On The Slow Boat From China

  1. Catharine Martin says:

    We received an update. The part will arrive on Monday and the technicians will be coming between 11am and 1pm to begin the arduous task of fixing it. I was told that this will be an all-day event. We will continue to stay with our frens, whose id will remain undisclosed. I’m at the house now; it is 92 degrees with the fan blowing in the living room, but I’m in the office, so it’s hotter. I have some errands to run here before the Sabbath, but I’ll be out of here as quickly as possible! LOL

    • Thanks for the update. I can totally empathize with the need to escape the heat. This week has been pretty brutal with highs near 100 degrees and the nights not getting remotely cool until around midnight or so. At least here it is supposed to start getting a bit cooler on Monday.

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