FAU Survey: Firms Expect Supply Chain Woes to Wane

By paul owers | 8/16/2022

Supply-chain delays and shortages that have hampered deliveries since the COVID-19 pandemic could soon be easing, according to a business survey by a researcher at Florida Atlantic University.  

Results from the inaugural Port Everglades Economic Engine Performance Index show that businesses with operations at the Fort Lauderdale port are overwhelmingly optimistic over the short and long term. 

“This survey clearly shows that the supply chain troubles we’ve seen over the past two years are starting to decline,” said David Menachof, Ph.D., the study researcher and an associate professor in FAU’s Information Technology and Operations Management Department within the College of Business. “There will still be sporadic shortages, but I think the outlook for the holiday shopping season will be rosier than last year. Still, it may take until 2023 to get back to what we think of as normal.”

The supply chain issues have led to shortages of many items and products, including semiconductor chips, severely limiting vehicle production and pushing up sticker prices. Limited supply of rubber has hurt tire manufacturing, while lack of plastics has fast-food restaurants scrambling to keep ketchup packets in stock and grocery stores struggling to keep soft drink shelves filled.

The survey consisted of 35 emailed responses to questions posed of members of the Port Everglades Association, a business organization that promotes the port. Businesses that responded to the survey included cruise lines, cargo ship lines and engineering firms. 

Nearly 90 percent of survey respondents said they’re still experiencing supply chain disruptions attributed to the pandemic, with 30 percent of those disruptions severe. But the survey also found that nearly seven out of 10 firms said they have at least recovered to pre-pandemic levels, while 22 percent of respondents indicated their performances have surpassed pre-COVID levels.

Firms involved on the cargo side of the port expect imports and exports to increase or remain steady in the coming year, with only one firm indicating volume could decrease. Port Everglades set new cargo records in May and June, and CEO Jonathan Daniels said he’s encouraged by that trend.  

More than 60 percent of respondents said they will be adding employees in the next quarter, although a majority of those firms said they have experienced a shortage of qualified candidates, a problem shared by other employers nationwide.

To train more qualified industry professionals, FAU has started a Master of Science in Supply Chain Management. The new degree – a series of 10 courses that can be completed in 12 months – also will focus on international shipping and trade and business analytics.

“We fully support this survey, which allows us to gauge the pulse of the port business community,” said Lori Baer, executive director of the association. “We serve as a bridge between public and private interests to facilitate the port’s achievement of its rightful place as a leader in the ranks of America’s port ocean commerce.”