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.
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.
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.
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.