Ad
Ad
Ad
Pages: [1] 2 3 4 »   Bottom of Page
Print
Author Topic: Is the Photo Equipment Supply Chain Totally Broken?  (Read 16815 times)
David Watson
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 395


WWW
« on: June 16, 2011, 04:45:46 PM »
ReplyReply

Having experienced similar problems to those so eruditely described by Mark I too have been thinking about why this can be happening and not only to popular cameras.  Yes - the recession is partly to blame as manufacturers and suppliers of raw material reduce their production plans to safe guard their cash-flows.  The most important reason however and an "amplifier" of the issue is the whole concept of just-in-time manufacturing.  In days of yore the manufacturer of chemicals say would have adequate stocks of raw materials and good stocks of various standard finished products.  The plastics manufacturer ditto.  The injection moulder ditto.  The camera assembly plant ditto and distributors and retailers would carry adequate stocks to meet the demands of customers who walked into their stores.

The accountants looked at this model and said if we compress this "supply chain" we will release vast amounts of cash which can be put to good use elsewhere such as  paying inflated bonuses to themselves, buying back shares and indulging in speculative forays into new virtual markets.  Talking about virtual markets Mark could have mentioned the plethora of companies advertising products online as being "in stock".  What they mean is that they are in stock at a central logistics facility somewhere  but they are all advertising the same single item  as being in stock.

I used to own a distributor of microcomputer systems and sold the company in 1984.  We bought products, stocked them, sold them, and packaged and despatched them.  This same company still exists and turns over many hundreds of millions of pounds at tiny margins.  It does not buy products, stock them, sell them pack them or despatch them.  It "facilitates" the process by which many small companies can order these items on a credit basis and have them despatched by another specialist link in the "supply chain" directly to the end customer.  That is how all printers are now sold.

Where am I going with this?  I think that you can see that there are at least  flaws in this model.  The first is that marketing companies are all advertising the same item as being in stock but only one can sell each item at a time. Secondly any disruption at any point in the supply chain causes the mother of all multiple pile-ups as one link after another fails.  What about the accountants you might ask?  They are all okay thank you running hedge funds which specialise in moving the vast pool of liquidity released by these efficiencies from one speculative opportunity to another.

Let us get back to investing in manufacturing (stocks), distribution (stocks) and retail (stocks) so that Mark and the myriad other potential and actual customers can actually enjoy these new products before they become obsolete but then that is another story.
Logged

David Watson ARPS
sydlow
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 60


« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2011, 05:19:50 PM »
ReplyReply

When there was no supply of Nikon D3x and 200-400 in the US, there was plenty of stock in Australia, and NPS was offering members significant discount as well on a wide range of Pro bodies and lenses.
Go Figure.
Logged
billh
Full Member
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 108


« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2011, 05:58:17 PM »
ReplyReply

I was amazed to hear Leica M lenses are hard to come by - is there really that much demand at the cost of them these days?
I am not sure how much the recession is responsible for the lack of stock. I experienced this problem when I switched to Nikon when the D3 first became available, and it obviously continues today. The GH1 was so hard to get I had a photographer friend in Japan send one, and I bought the GH2 from a store in Canada that had one in stock. I also see posts like the one from Sydlow from people in the UK and Europe, claiming they are sitting on store shelves there. Could it be an issue of manufacturing capacity and a reluctance to expand facilities? Have spokesman at either Nikon or Panasonic ever commented on this issue?
Logged
CJL
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 95



WWW
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2011, 06:07:59 PM »
ReplyReply

Prior to the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster in Japan, the supply chain issues were predominantly a Nikon USA phenomenon.  Nikon gear was readily available in other countries - including Canada - as was gear from most other manufacturers. 

I got the impression that (prior to the earthquake) Nikon USA was artificially limiting supply in order to drive up prices, and if so, the unfortunate incidents in Japan will have hit them even harder than it otherwise would have.
Logged
feppe
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2909

Oh this shows up in here!


WWW
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2011, 06:22:07 PM »
ReplyReply

Where am I going with this?  I think that you can see that there are at least  flaws in this model.  The first is that marketing companies are all advertising the same item as being in stock but only one can sell each item at a time. Secondly any disruption at any point in the supply chain causes the mother of all multiple pile-ups as one link after another fails.  What about the accountants you might ask?  They are all okay thank you running hedge funds which specialise in moving the vast pool of liquidity released by these efficiencies from one speculative opportunity to another.

That's an unnecessarily simplistic and alarmist example. You really think there's nobody pulling the strings at the central depot who holds that single unit? They keep checking the demand for each product, they have their models on when to order new stock, they have their marketing euros to direct demand to where they need it. As you implied, these players work on volume due to razor thin margins, so it is in their interest to move units as fast as possible. So multiple people asking for the same unit is most likely not their fault, but caused by something upstream in the supply and/or manufacturing chain. Of course disruptions occur, and some products sell surprisingly well (or not).

There have been anecdotal reports of camera body and lens shortages in different markets for at least a year, well before any tsunami. Perhaps there have been bankruptcies of manufacturers of some essential hard-to-find parts, or disruptions in some rare raw material distribution - or more likely there's more going on behind the scenes than a failure of just-in-time manufacturing.

There's another thread here with some discussion on US vs EU shortages - yes, EU hasn't seen such severe shortages of Panasonic MFT gear, for example. So some "shortages" might be just a result of marketing strategy where Japanese companies are directing products to more lucrative markets with better ROI, higher potential for growth, or combination thereof. Reportedly MFT cameras are selling like crazy in China, maybe that's where all your US units are Smiley

By the way, the reason why you are able to buy a cutting-edge pro-grade DSLR for a mere 2k is in great part thanks to the efficiencies of just-in-time manufacturing.
Logged

jhmaw
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 16


« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2011, 06:23:05 PM »
ReplyReply

I've been talking to a friend who works in photo retail here in the UK. He says that items made in Japan are in very short supply, whereas most items made elsewhere are not too bad. Japanese car parts are similarly affected. The conclusion seems obvious. The prediction seems to be that the situation will continue, at least to some extent, for the next six to nine months.

Just don't drop your favourite camera until supplies are restored.
Logged

Mark D Segal
Contributor
Sr. Member
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 6943


WWW
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2011, 07:02:29 PM »
ReplyReply

I think there may be another - simpler - explanation for all of this. These are world-wide companies supplying world-wide demand. Don't forget that the size of the middle class in China (by our standards) exceeds the population of the USA. China, India, Brazil, Russia and other smaller "emerging" economies are growing very quickly and minting large numbers of very well-to-do people. They want the same gizmos everyone else wants. It could just be the case that manufacturers didn't anticipate the rate and extent of world-scale demand growth for the better products, and it takes time to gear-up production lines with all that is entailed.

By the way Mark, excellent wild-life photos in that article.
Logged

Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
B.J.
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 4


« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2011, 07:29:25 PM »
ReplyReply

Even more ludicrous--I'm now hearing rumors of a Panasonic GH3. Oh well, at least I won't be able to buy the latest and greatest instead of last year's old unavailable model.
Logged
tom b
Sr. Member
****
Online Online

Posts: 869


WWW
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2011, 07:45:43 PM »
ReplyReply

The Lumix DMC-GF3 has just been announced so you won't be able to get that either.

Cheers,
Logged

Alan Goldhammer
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1660


WWW
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2011, 08:13:53 PM »
ReplyReply

For Nikon gear, Thom Hogan has been chronicling the supply chain and management decisions for some time now.  It's quite complex with decisions on consumer vs. pro gear having to be made.  While many LuLa readers would opt for a D3, that's not the most salable item in terms of quantity for the company.  Nikon has to balance a lot of things in terms of making the call on what to produce.  We may not like what they decide (cannot comment on Canon as I'm a Nikonian).

While it is too late to influence Mark's choice of camera gear, I would have advised a Nikon D300s with a Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED Telephoto Zoom.  About $2K for a good camera and lens that will hold up on your journey.  You don't even have to worry about all the buttons and stuff as there are only about four or five that are important.  Battery lasts a good while (I was in Europe for 13 days recently and only ran my battery down to the 1/2 mark capturing about 500 images).
Logged

telecentricity
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 4


WWW
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2011, 08:49:16 PM »
ReplyReply

I'll second Alan's suggestion, except I would buy a couple of used DSLRs and lenses from one of the reputable online dealers.  Africa is hard on cameras and I'd be afraid to take a Leica S2.   I just looked and found a used D3X from my favorite Atlanta-based used dealer.  Best wishes on your safari, Mark.
Logged

Gary
BernardLanguillier
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 8007



WWW
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2011, 09:42:25 PM »
ReplyReply

For Nikon gear, Thom Hogan has been chronicling the supply chain and management decisions for some time now.  It's quite complex with decisions on consumer vs. pro gear having to be made.  While many LuLa readers would opt for a D3, that's not the most salable item in terms of quantity for the company.  Nikon has to balance a lot of things in terms of making the call on what to produce.  We may not like what they decide (cannot comment on Canon as I'm a Nikonian).

Yep, Thom provides a level of analyis on this topic that is very thorough.

Regarding the D3x and exotic tele lenses, I believe that the earthquake/tsunami is the #1 cause of the low availability, coupled with the fact that Nikon is about to release new pro bodies from that same plant in Sendai.

While it is too late to influence Mark's choice of camera gear, I would have advised a Nikon D300s with a Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED Telephoto Zoom.  About $2K for a good camera and lens that will hold up on your journey.  You don't even have to worry about all the buttons and stuff as there are only about four or five that are important.  Battery lasts a good while (I was in Europe for 13 days recently and only ran my battery down to the 1/2 mark capturing about 500 images).

I would personnally go with 2*D7000 if image quality is an important decision criteria.

Cheers,
Bernard
Logged

A few images online here!
stever
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1065


« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2011, 10:27:55 PM »
ReplyReply

yes, there are an unusual number of cameras and lenses unavailable now

however, b&h has Canon 7ds and 100-400 lenses (and the 400 5.6).  unless this is extremely short notice, it's surprising that lensrentals.com wouldn't have a satisfactory combination of camera/lenses available

interesting to see how Mark likes the Panasonic image quality

are 35mm slrs that much more difficult to master than the S2?  maybe a consumer superzoom is in order?
Logged
Schewe
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 5479


WWW
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2011, 11:50:35 PM »
ReplyReply

interesting to see how Mark likes the Panasonic image quality

Not so surprising...if you can GET a GH2 to test you'll find the camera, sensor, lenses and image quality for 16MP raw capture excellent...the key is finding the stuff. Unique Photo lists batteries and chargers as in stock (I bought 3 batteries a few weeks ago and just ordered a 2nd charger). They list cameras with certain lenses as being in stock as well.

And yes, right now, supplies of a lot of stuff is constrained...for a whole host of reasons (largely the economy and for anything from Japan, the fallout from the tsunami).
Logged
Alexandre Buisse
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 58



WWW
« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2011, 01:59:42 AM »
ReplyReply

For what it's worth, in my experience this is a bit less of an issue in Europe than in the US. I was able to order extra batteries for my GH1 in the UK and I see D3s, D3x and some exotics stocked at most camera stores here in Copenhagen. Of course, the downside is that we have to pay a lot more money for the same items...
Logged

tsk1979
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 4


« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2011, 06:41:13 AM »
ReplyReply

I am wondering if its correct.
B&H and your local camera stores are just 2 stores in the US. There are a lot more.
For example, panasonic GH2 kit (14-140 lens) is available in stock from this retailer.
If you look at feedback ratings, this retailer has lots of good feedback
http://www.42photo.com/pd-productid-105987-k-panasonic_dmc_gh2_165_mp_digital_camera_w_14_140mm_lens.htm

Nikon 200-400 six left in stock with amazon
http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-200-400mm-4G-II-Telephoto/dp/B003JBHSHK

With the internet, you have at your disposal 100s of search results, and reseller ratings from buyers about those sellers.

So the sky may be falling at some  places, but you can shop at others.
Logged
Mark D Segal
Contributor
Sr. Member
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 6943


WWW
« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2011, 06:55:15 AM »
ReplyReply

Mark, another thought that comes to mind about these shortages concerns the issue of strategic materials and processes that are common to a whole lot of products and brands. All you need is a supply screw-up in one of them and it can affect masses of production across the board until it is resolved. We've been hearing recently about growing supply issues with various exotic base materials. With today's inventory management systems being as tight as they are, all you need is a delay of a component and the whole production process grinds to a halt. Real-time inventory management is super-efficient and great for the bottom-line - when it works. Apart from that, one has to countenance the reality that even though it may not have been the initial cause, the earthquake/tsunami in Japan must be exacerbating the problems. Another factor, not only in Japan, but increasingly in China and elsewhere, are power shortages. Many of the fast-growing "emerging economies" from which we obtain much of our high-tech merchandise are experiencing growing and increasingly severe power shortages  - again because demand is outstripping their ability to grow their systems. Resulting supply disruptions get magnified because they have knock-on effects. I suspect if one were to drill down further on this issue, one would find a range of factors, some related, some independent, but all causing the same outcome - delay.
Logged

Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
fredjeang
Guest
« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2011, 07:47:23 AM »
ReplyReply

Not so surprising...if you can GET a GH2 to test you'll find the camera, sensor, lenses and image quality for 16MP raw capture excellent...the key is finding the stuff. Unique Photo lists batteries and chargers as in stock (I bought 3 batteries a few weeks ago and just ordered a 2nd charger). They list cameras with certain lenses as being in stock as well.

And yes, right now, supplies of a lot of stuff is constrained...for a whole host of reasons (largely the economy and for anything from Japan, the fallout from the tsunami).
I finally found one GH2 !! after dozens of calls and won't tell you where because I'm going this afternoon for it Tongue
Price is down too. 100 less that a few days ago.

But yes, it's like rushing on the only exemplary. Schewe is right, you find GH2 with kit lens although there is not that much, but what's almost impossible is body only, and I wanted body only.

There is no 5D2 stock right now.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2011, 07:51:47 AM by fredjeang » Logged
Ben Rubinstein
Sr. Member
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 1733


« Reply #18 on: June 17, 2011, 08:55:52 AM »
ReplyReply

Was talking to my local pro store last week, they're hurting badly from this, hard to be a camera shop when you haven't had a camera, lens or accessory to sell for 3 months. It's been hard enough for the smaller stores but with this it's been really nasty.
Logged

tgutgu
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 3


« Reply #19 on: June 17, 2011, 10:08:51 AM »
ReplyReply

Well, before posting such a generalized article, Mark Dubovoy should have made some research exercises to find out that this extreme short supply, is mostly something special for the US market, and is less valid for many European countries. Generally, the m4/3 lenses are in good availability in the stores, and even the GH2 - though it has some shortages, isn't that difficult to find.

Proably the US currently is less profitable to the manufactures, partly due to the recession, partly also due to some business legislation and habits. (This buying, trying, and returning habit, is less prominent at least in Germany)
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3 4 »   Top of Page
Print
Jump to:  

Ad
Ad
Ad