Few portable restroom operators are immune from the ongoing shipping delays and supply shortages. Likewise, many are paying higher prices for products. Unfortunately, the situation may get worse before it gets better.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, dozens of manufacturing plants remain closed while many railroad and port staff can’t get back into the region or are coping with property losses. Regardless of your location, securing sanitation supplies and equipment will continue to be challenging.
Manufacturers use various techniques for producing portable restrooms, including sheet extrusion, a well-known method for developing durable units. Petrochemical companies generate plastic pellets, which are then shipped to portable restroom manufacturing facilities. From there, the company melts them down and turns them into plastic sheets.
Natural disasters, such as Hurricane Ida or the Texas winter storm, directly impact plastic production. In most cases, plants go offline days before the storm arrives, and when there’s a loss of power or other damage, they’re unable to come back online for a while. As a result, potentially billions of pounds of plastic go unproduced.
Several days after Hurricane Ida made landfall, 34 out of 41 chemical plants and refineries were still shut down. According to S&P Global, this reflects an estimated 2.2 million barrels per day of refining capacity offline. While the impact on the portable restroom supply chain isn’t yet known, it will likely compound the current problems.
Hurricane Ida did a number on transportation. Initially, railways closed due to fallen trees and floodgates. While the Port of New Orleans re-opened, many terminal operators paused delivery. Vessel damage and debris in the Mississippi River may delay the shipping of chemicals by barge.
Meanwhile, the already short-staffed trucking facilities are diverting equipment and drivers to haul relief loads to affected areas. The combination of obstacles makes it harder to transport plastics from the region. As a result, the backlog of orders will increase, and demand will outpace supply.
Demand doesn’t slow when the production of raw materials and transportation are halted. Instead, it builds up and leads to serious supply chain issues. There are two main things PROs can do right now to limit the effects of supply chain disruptions and potential price increases: Assess your inventory and rental prices.
At this point, lead times for new portable restrooms may increase even more, and the impact on costs isn’t yet known. While it’s important to know when to order new toilets, you should also keep a robust supply of parts to fix your existing equipment. Double-check your inventory for the following parts:
In addition, take a look at the costs of your rentals and services. If you’re able to boost your prices by a few percentage points, it could help you weather current price increases and prepare for the next storm.
AlixPartners says the ongoing plastics and resin shortages “could persist for up to three years,” as reported by Supply Chain Dive. Therefore, PROs may see higher prices and longer lead times. While natural disasters are out of your control, you can plan, stay in contact with your suppliers, and be patient as the supply chain attempts to recover.
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