Breaks in Supply-Chain Links Add to Contractors’ Cost Woes

Ken Simonson, AGC

Construction firms are coping with a seemingly unending series of supply-chain disruptions that are compounding problems caused by record materials cost increases and pandemic-induced challenges to operations. As each link is repaired or bypassed, another gap appears elsewhere.

From mid-February to mid-May, the list of problems included a freeze that blanketed Texas for a week; an earthquake and fire that damaged a key semiconductor plant in Japan; a six-day blockage of the Suez Canal; a ransomware attack that shut down the Colonial Pipeline; and a crack in an interstate highway bridge over the Mississippi River that diverted road traffic and halted barges.

Some of these incidents had only tangential or indirect effects on construction supplies. But collectively, they demonstrate the interconnectedness and the fragility of a global supply web on which even purely domestic industries, such as U.S. construction, depend.

 

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