7 Replies Latest reply on Sep 9, 2020 10:43 PM by raspberrypitechguy

    Side Effects of World Events


      How many of you are also adversely affected by current events in the world?

      Obviously Covid19 has played havoc with everyone in strange and unpleasant ways, but other issues which may or may not be related, are also aligning to cause problems.

      As regards element14 activities, I am finding serious issues related to world events.


      The Situation

      I typically have between 5 and 12 projects on the front burner at any one time, which means they see concrete actions, not just daydreams.

      This typically means some projects will be in planning and procurement phases and some will be in design and build phases and some will be in test and document phases.

      Most days, I spend some time scouring the internet for parts to use in my front burner and some back burner projects, and I usually order some parts, when I find a bargain or something that will be immediately useful or possibly useful for a future project. It also means that I receive parts in the mail essentially every day, often several packages per day. These are mostly just $2 items that were bought because they were a bargain.

      Then of course I have to do something with the parts, but that is not the subject today.


      The Problems

      That whole ordering process has evaporated, which wreaks havoc with the rest of my activities.

      I didn't stop ordering, but the parts are only arriving at a rate of about one package every 2 weeks.

      Most orders are massively delayed and many orders just never show up.

      Because of the large delays, the time period when complaints can be addressed has often expired, which greatly complicates the problem.

      It is pretty hard to track this many orders, especially when the delays are months long.

      I have also been running into quite a few instances where an order is accepted, but then the supplier cancels the order. They refund the money, but this adds a significant delay to getting a new order out.

      A further issue is that shipping costs have skyrocketed - they used to be about 1% of the cost of goods, now they are more than 40% of the cost of goods, often exceeding the cost of the item itself.

      Even the road test material from element14 is showing up months late and the last couple of shopping carts I won haven't shown up at all.


      The Results

      All these issues have resulted in me just writing off many of my orders, it just isn't a good use of time to go chasing a $2 part, but it can still paralyze a project.

      It has also forced me to reconsider the whole process - if I am losing 30% of my orders and shipping costs have gone up by a factor of 10, I just cannot afford to keep doing things this way.

      I will have to change the type of project I do to have less dependence on ordered parts and actually use fewer ordered parts.

      For example, I typically order between 40 and 80 PCBs every year, but the cost has now increased by a factor of about 2.5, so I will have to dramatically scale back on PCB orders, maybe even stop ordering PCBs.

      I still have lots of projects I can do, but it is depressing that these new constraints are affecting what I can work on.


      What Is The Root Cause?

      Obviously Covid19 has adversely affected the supply chain but there are other issues.

      Canada has strained relations with China for some idiotic reasons, and of course both sides feel justified, but it is hurting cooperation and international trade. I suspect the cancelled orders fall in this category because they use the excuse that the post offices are refusing to carry their products.

      The USA also has strained relations with China, and has started imposing more tariffs, which for some reason seems to affect prices in Canada.

      The Canadian dollar is in the dumpster because the price of oil is low.

      China has essentially lost its ability to use shipping rates reserved for "developing nations".

      Which has resulted in several steep shipping cost increases and will result in even higher shipping costs in January.

      Although this is supposed to help local industry, if they don't make the same products, all it means is I can't buy as much material.


      Where is it going?

      I don't know how it will play out, but the fun factor is decreasing - mark me down as disgruntled.


      This didn't start out as a big venting session, but I better stop before I get into a real tailspin.

      I am glad that element14 is still hanging in there, if they are having the kind of issues I am having, you know it ain't easy.

        • Re: Side Effects of World Events

          It is very very true ,what u have stated above , that has been one of the reasons even I wasn't able to take part in the community from long time , I started to explore other hackathons generally software based and also did couple of online courses to improve my skills ,making projects is what even I want to do but the logistics of current situation just don't permit that us.



          Aabhas Senapati



          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • Re: Side Effects of World Events

            The current situation shows you how fragile our environment can be to unexpected changes.


            When doing risk analysis, these types of unusual occurrences are often overlooked, but as we have seen, they can be a major disruption.


            The universe is a dynamic system, do not let a short term stable state disrupt your long term goals by staying flexible and positive.



            2 of 2 people found this helpful
            • Re: Side Effects of World Events

              Hi Doug,


              There are lots of stressors working on us. I do not do well with change and there has been way too much change in the last four years. I have been having a pain in my neck which I thought might be arthritis and I was thinking about a doctors visit when it dawned on me it was just from stress. Too much News Channel. I boil every time I get an invoice from a supplier and there is a big Tariff charge at the bottom. I have even sent a couple of the invoices to the White House requesting that they forward it to the Chinese Government as that is who we have been told is paying for these dumb Tariffs.


              Shipping and supply has been disrupted. 4 years ago I could order a bunch of cool parts from China and it would arrive with free shipping quicker than i could get a letter delivered within country. Now I have become frustrated at the shipping costs and the delays.


              I would make a fairly decent hermit as I get along with little or no direct personal contact but even I have felt the emotional disruption of isolating and avoiding personal contact these last six months. It seems that most people have pulled back into themselves. I have friends that I used to communicate with regularly by email but recently no one feels like they have any enthusiasm. We still write from time to time but it isn't the same and I suspect they all have the same pain in their necks that I do.


              I really hope it gets better. Your fountain of creativity has been a benefit to this forum and everyone that participates here regularly. I particularly liked the year where you were in high gear and keeping us amazed on a weekly basis. I wish you were close enough to raid my parts bins. I seem to have a wealth of parts and a dearth of ideas.



              3 of 3 people found this helpful
              • Re: Side Effects of World Events

                It has definitely impacted electronic shipments from China for me, but also other things.  I was going to get a new work desk and cabinets for my electronics lab at Ikea but the supply disappeared due to people buying desks to work at home and home school.  The supply chain can't keep up apparently - both source and transport.  I have essentially stopped the spur of the moment purchases of odd ball electronic stuff I used to order from China.  Because of higher cost and shipping I am more selective on projects and am doing more with parts I can get domestically.  The subsidized rates from China never made sense to me and I don't have a problem paying representative transportation costs.  But as you say the trade seems all messed up regardless.

                3 of 3 people found this helpful
                • Re: Side Effects of World Events



                  There have been many changes and disruption here in the USA.  Things that happened smoothly in the past, now experience many hiccups.  Some of these are international (like tariffs) and others are national (like our cash strapped and mismanaged postal service).


                  Tariffs have caused rather large differences in pricing and availability of a lot of electronic components that I buy and use.  I have had several issues pop up between quoting jobs and then buying parts after approvals from my clients.  This has led to some pretty thin profit margins on some projects and a change in my quoting (soft versus firm quotes).  I have tried to mitigate some of this impact by keeping larger inventory, but that is a costly approach.


                  The Postal service is a different sort of problem.  I have had products lost in the mail (both inbound and outbound).  I have experienced huge delays in shipping (again both directions) that have seriously impacted scheduling and customer satisfaction.  This is not something that I have had difficulties with in the past, so this is a bit more frustrating.


                  Hopefully, these situations will improve as Covid19 subsides, or as our political pendulum swings.

                  2 of 2 people found this helpful
                  • Re: Side Effects of World Events

                    dougw stressors LOL! I'm going bat  sh*t! Can't really go anywhere. You can't be around other friends! Watching way too much TV and I get up 8 maybe 9 or so then watch "Escape to the Country" @ 3pm 4pm 5pm. make dinner knock about tv about 8 pm - 10 pm kitchen Nightmares, 11 pm Star Trek Enterprise, and at  12 NYPD blue my tv shuts off at 2 am sometimes I get to sleep before it shuts off. Can't sleep until morning as a week/small blader..fun,.


                    • Re: Side Effects of World Events

                      China is currently, or at least used to ban all aircraft entering China.


                      Thus the US took action to make a "hey you don't let us we won't let you" deal, and now... hopefully things go better...


                      It has strained the relationship between US and China, and also that of China and western countries.


                      Advice: Get some samples... fast delivery, and aided me in quite a few projects.

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