A couple of weeks ago, IPC, a trade group that represents electronics companies, surveyed manufacturers to estimate the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on the industry. Manufacturers surveyed said their suppliers have warned them they should expect about three weeks of delays on average, but the manufacturers expect things to be even worse than that—about five weeks on average. A select few expect delays longer than nine weeks.
On March 3, the Financial Times ran a story claiming that electronics retailers have been informed that they should expect it to take “up to three times as long for PCs and parts to be delivered” as normal. It also notes that small OEMs are at a significant disadvantage when supply is low because large companies like Apple are in a better position to work with the suppliers that are operating most effectively.
But Apple and its ilk are not weathering this storm perfectly, either. Last week, Bloomberg wrote that Apple has told its tech support workers to expect multi-week delays for replacement iPhones at Apple Stores, and some Apple employees “also noticed a shortage of individual parts.” There were also previous reports that an iPad Pro refresh’s launch will be delayed because of the outbreak’s impact on Apple’s supply partners.
We asked our readers, many of whom are professional technologists across a variety of industries, whether they have faced problems getting needed equipment or other issues related to this health crisis. We got several stories back. Here are some anecdotes about challenges IT managers and the like are facing right now.
engrpiman 2 wrote:
Our Lenovo computers are back ordered indefinitely. Both CDW and Anixter are reporting supply chain issues.
mtgarden also relies on Lenovo and added:
Lenovo is saying anything not already in stock is now being listed as 2-3 months. Likely won’t be that long, but large orders (corporate stuff) should plan on a long lead time.
My workplace had an order of Lenovo laptops for a customer come in without the WLAN adapters installed. Lenovo has advised us that the leadtime for the parts to come in is in the three to six months region. For the time being, they’ve requested that we purchase off-the-shelf USB wireless dongles (they will reimburse this cost) and install them for the customer to use until such a time that they are able to provide the parts and installation services.
punksmurph is facing some challenges, too:
We are moving to Lenovo Laptops and thin clients (we use specific Dell models for high powered desktops). Right now our orders are all on hold. We are not returning Dell lease refreshes because we would inventory out in like two weeks if we did. Our Dell systems we need for desktops are 60-90 days out minimum for the desktops we need. And due to some technology requirements with Nvidia cards, we are stuck. It really is hell.
Supply is not the only issue, Ars readers report. Some shared stories of how their companies are attempting to address the outbreak and keep employees safe, from sanitation to remote work to travel limitations. Writes numerobis:
I have a customer, a multi-national software vendor, that’s had travel bans from certain sites for a while, and has now (today I think?) decided on a global travel ban, interviews to be done remote, global optional work-from-home. I am having my own team prepare to work at home; we don’t quite have the infrastructure yet.
All work travel has been canceled. Any conferences or in classroom training, customer meetings that were in person are now remote. All our vendors—Cisco, Dell, HP, etc.—have released statements about possible limited product delays or availability and even tech support availability as call centers shut down.
According to wkingan’s experience, some companies are going to wild sanitation measures:
Our IT Help Desk ordered about a million cases of bleach wipes and instituted a new policy where they wipe down all surfaces in the Help Desk walk-up space every 15 minutes. It smells really bleach-y in there now.
anjoschu went into much more detail about the impact their company is seeing and the responses to it:
Our company has doubled the capacities of the remote working infrastructure and is going to hold a massive test tomorrow where 50% of our employees (>1200 total) are asked to work from home as a stress test.
The policies sound relatively sensible: no work travel except with explicit exception from the highest-ups, colleagues that have been in high-risk areas as defined by the national health agency have to work from home for 14 days, stay home if feeling ill, no shaking hands please, cough/sneeze in handkerchief/elbow, wash hands immediately after blowing nose, canteen has closed open buffet in favor of plates prepared for you by staff, etc.
All in all, I feel pretty well cared for in this company. They try to make sure everyone washes or sanitizes their hands when touching buttons, door handles, etc. and provide the means to do so. There are daily updates on the company policies and measures dealing with the outbreak, which all include (strong) advice on what to do to decrease risk of infecting others or yourself and what the plans are should someone at our company become a known carrier.
And a wide range of industries are heavily impacted. dargonite reported serious challenges in the freight industry in Canada:
I live in Canada, work IT at a freight forwarding company.
Between the shutdown in China and the rail blockades here at home, the entire shipping industry is pretty much at a standstill. All of the warehouse workers here have been laid off. Our warehouse usually moves hundreds of thousands of boxes a week and there hasn’t been a truck for at least 2 weeks. We are anticipating customers will file for bankruptcy as they have not gotten their products and have missed sales/holiday sales and have had to pay for storage at the ports (ports have created Super Piles, which is hundreds of thousands of cargo containers piled sky-high)
Imagine you are a small company selling products; you haven’t gotten your goods, you still have to pay us (freight forwarding) as we have already paid the ships and truckers, etc, and on top of that any cargo that makes its way into the ports of Canada, are also not going out because of the blockades! (hence, super piles) so right now, everything is basically at a stand-still.
For more information about the coronavirus and the world’s response to it, read Ars Technica’s detailed guide, updated daily. And thanks to our readers for sharing their stories.