discussion / Community Base  / 6 April 2021

Developers, Makers, & Engineers: Recent Supply Chain Issues

Hey Widlabbers,

We've heard from several of you who build hardware and develop tech that suppy chains have been slowed down and complicated by COVID-19 impacts recently. We're interested in hearing what your experiences have been dealing with these supply chain issue lately. 

We also thought it would be useful to have an ongoing thread where you can share updates and news with each other about potential issues that could impact the community. 

Please use this thread to help each other navigate these issues as they come up!




Yep, it's quite serious and we're seeing supply chain issues in all types of semiconductors. For many of the chips we use, there's still good stock availability and we're also buffering some of the core chips. But if it doesn't get better soon, it's possible we may run into supply issues as well. 

For Arduino-based boards, the microcontroller chip supply is still quite good. But if you're using ARM based chips, especially STM32, it's probably best to stockpile ASAP. Assuming that the semiconductor fabs will be glutted with orders for the shortages, there may be a domino effect on other chips like the ones for the Arduinos too so we're watching very carefeully.  

It doesn't seem to be just technology, I know there are a lot of supply chain issues in bicycles as well, with estimated deliveries for 2021 models in October, and parts have similar issues. And across the board there seems to be a shortage of containers. Production in Asia is high again, but in Europe and the US it isn't yet, so containers aren't leaving the US and Europe as quickly as they're coming in, creating an imbalance of containers across the world.

Unfortunately yes, it is bad. There are supply issues with all kinds of semi-conductors currently. Particularly hitting GPS chips and microprocessors. Seeing backorders of several months.

In addition to production, freight is a disaster. Sea freight is booking up two months in advance and airfreight prices are double or more pre-covid levels. Many air freight destinations are simply not possible anymore as they relied on extra space on passenger flights.

Global supply chains seem almost as complicated as ecosystems - delays or issues in one area have run-on effects in seemingly unrelated industries or routings. It has been very difficult to predict where the next issue lies.

The only real solution we have is when supply and freight are available buy whatever we can. We are stocking a year or more supply of cheap raw materials if it is available - harder to do though for non-profits etc.

The next pin to drop is pricing. Already seeing bulk battery pricing up 20% or more.