Crossing The Choppy Waters Of The Panama Canal

Amir Taichman
Founder & CEO
August 25, 2023

Two years after the Evergreen finally sailed out of the Suez Canal, freeing billions of dollars of goods to flow back into the global economy, and not much have changed in the way global supply chains react to major disruptions.

Due to extreme climate conditions water levels in the Panama Canal are extremely low, making the passage of large container vessels impossible.

Global shippers are waking up to a familiar reality - a major waterway blocked for traffic, leaving cargo owners and logistics providers scrambling to find and execute alternatives while filling in the gaps created in their supply chains.

In both cases, and in all major disruptions for that matter, everyone is asking themselves the same questions, in the same order -

  1. Are any of our shipments impacted?
  2. What inventory is in those shipments?
  3. Where is that inventory going?
  4. What is the impact to our supply chain?

Most companies can answer the first question.

Some companies can answer the second.

Very few can answer the third and forth without sending analysts on days and weeks of analysis, losing previous time where some action could still remedy the situation.

The challenge is always the same - the information needed to identify the issues, evaluate them and execute a solution is siloed, fragmented and spread across different teams and even companies.

Unity SCM was created to solve just that - give supply chain operators the information they need, when they need it, to make critical decisions.

So how do Unity’s customers handle the situation at the Panama Canal?

1. Identifying shipments at risk of disruption

Automated reports with an updated list of shipments that are supposed to go through the Panama Canal or have recently been re-routed

2. Re-route shipments to minimize impact

The shipments bound to the Canal will likely be routed in one of two ways, each with it’s own implications -

  1. Ship to the west coast
    Use ground transportation to ship inventory domestically. This will likely lead to congestion in western ports and increased loads on drayage providers, leading to delays and increased detention & demurrage fees.
  2. Go around
    Taking the longer routes, going around, will lead to lead-times longer than planned, driving costs up and creating shortages and production disruptions.
    Either way, you can seamlessly track the shipment across the different modes and carriers - without having to chase them down.

3. Analyze Purchase Orders and Inventory In-Transit

Cross-referencing Orders and Shipments is tricky - different systems, different parties, things don’t line up.

Unity collects and combines multiple datasets to present you the full picture of inventory-in-transit and where it’s headed.

4. Identify alternatives to fill inventory gaps

With full visibility into the holes in your supply chain created by re-routing inventory you can now analyze the full impact and the costs of alternative solutions.

Bottom line

The job of supply chain leaders is to find solutions when reality doesn’t line up with the plan.

I was asked whether the Evergreen was a “once in a generation” disruption. Disruptions happen every day. Some are bigger than others. But they all have something in common - they require  the right information to resolve successfully.