Skipping just in time…

I was being trained up as a logistician just at the tail end of the transition from having mountains of spares, repairs, and stock items piled into warehouse to “just in time” delivery. In theory, JIT reduces operating costs and usually comes with a minimal risk of going “stock out” or not actually having what you need. It’s a system that works very well, right up until the moment where it stops working. Then there’s hell to pay while everyone scrambles. 

I’ve never been the guy who thought he needed a lifetime supply of rice and beans stashed away in the basement. Nothing in the pandemic has changed my mind on that. I think JIT is probably still a valid approach to just about everything we use on a regular basis. In all but truly exceptional circumstances, supply chains work exactly the way they’re designed. 

I’m not running out to buy a 50-gallon drum of rice or ordering the 1000-serving Costco bucket of mac and cheese. I am, however, making a list of those items I’ve needed to order that ended up being stock delayed in the face of extreme demand. History tells me that having received an extreme demand signal for these items, there are factories and plants around the country rushing to fill the gap. When all this is over, demand for most of these items will drop just as quickly as it surged – and there will be a lag as material continues to surge through the supply chain towards the consumer market. 

So, I’m making a list. Fortunately, most of what’s gone backordered or been delivery delayed are things that can sit for years without going bad. When these formerly hard to find items are swamping the marketplace and being sold off at a discount, that’ll be the time to step in and stack ‘em deep against future temporary supply disruptions… You know, assuming I survive the Great Plague.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

The hardest aspect of writing What Annoys Jeff this Week isn’t finding the three things that have agitated the shit out of me during the last seven days, it’s the culling through the multitude of life’s little indignities to arrive at the three that best sum up the week that was. As ever, it’s a precarious balancing act between my liberty to speak and my willingness to deal with the consequences of those words once they’ve left my brain and shown up on the internet. In that spirit, I proudly present you with the 110th installment of What Annoys Jeff this Week.

1. Failure to communicate. Nine times in ten I don’t mind when something I’ve bought and paid for is backordered. As long as I know it in advance or it’s communicated to me as quickly as possible after the order. What you shouldn’t do is wait for two weeks, fill the balance of the order, and only then let me know that the one widget I needed to make it all work is backordered indefinitely. Some people would probably shrug it off, but for me it’s a sure guarantee that I’ll repackage the whole thing, return it at your expense, and never conduct business with you again. When you fail to communicate with the customer, at least when that customer is me, everyone loses.

2. Being not quite sick. There’s a murky line somewhere between feeling well and being sick. I’ve found astride that line for the last two days. With an obnoxious cough, a turbulent stomach, and a general feeling of malaise, I’ve mostly crashed through the mid-week period feeling vaguely out of sorts and enjoying the attention span the Almighty gave to the average walnut. It’s not the recipe for doing great and wonderful things. In fact it’s most likely the recipe to make sure foolishness and asshattery lurk around every corner.

3. Anything to do with the Winter Olympics or the Super Bowl. So there rest of the world doesn’t respond with a visceral sigh when someone mentions either the Olympic Games or the Superbowl. I’m sure there are even those reading this now who are beside themselves with anticipation of the great and exciting things to come. As for me, my disinterest has been driven to a state of outright hostility by the sheer shove-it-down-your-throatedness of media coverage of both of these events. I’ll leave the rest of the world to their excitement. As for me, I’m not a bit interested in any of it… until the summer games… or the world women’s volleyball championship. Whichever comes first.