The essence of the supply chain is to give companies the certainty that raw materials and components are available in order to produce the finished goods. The Covid-19 pandemic challenged this certainty.

08 February 2022

When manufacturers are looking for alternative materials and components they can face re-certification of their products, or newly developed products cannot be released. As a result of this, existing products must stay available for longer. The fire safety and security market are highly dependent on electronics and with that, the industry is affected by the supply chain crisis. 

 Several industries had problems even before COVID-19. Producers of chips, computer parts and other components needed for the digitalisation of our society were already under great pressure. The production capacity of these goods is limited worldwide and the slightest change in demand can cause supply problems. This was already the case with smartphones, computers and televisions. Chips had already entered the automotive industry on a large scale, and with the electrification of this industry, the demand for chips soared. We see a similar development in industries and parts of society where the Internet of Things is becoming commonplace. 

The consequences of the Pandemic have led many governments to recognise that the high dependence on producers out of one region poses a great a risk to certain sectors. For electronic chips and components, we face the challenge to reduce the risks, there is simply a need for more and better distributed production facilities. In the pursuit of lean manufacturing, production has been outsourced to Asia which means that a shutdown of factories in one country can have a global impact. The EU also recognised this even before the pandemic. Accelerated by the Covid crisis, the EU is focusing its policy, among other things, on increasing domestic capacity and diversifying the number of suppliers.

For many companies that were caught off guard by global lockdowns, the speed of recovery is almost as insidious and led to another supply chain crisis during the pandemic. Increased consumer spending and thus demand for products, combined with delayed transportation by sea and air caused major shortages and record backlogs. The tightness on container capacity is expected to continue for some time. This will not help to clear shortages of electronic components, which is expected to continue for some time.

The supply chain crisis caused by the pandemic also affects companies in the fire safety and security industry. The effects not only concern the manufacturers of equipment but also companies in the field of service and maintenance of systems. Outside this there are other areas that can impact   building safety. An example of this is that recommended emergency escape routes that were in place before the lockdowns are now mixed with the one-way traffic signs intended to allow employees to pass at a safe distance from each other.

Manufacturers of electronic fire safety and security equipment are affected by the disruption in transport and shortages on natural resources and core materials. COVID-19 has shown that unexpected events can shatter the basic premise that materials will be easily accessible, disrupting supply chain performance. The chain reaction initially caused by the shutdown of factories in countries effected not only the supply chains but also the workflows within and between companies.