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In today’s world, every day brings news of a new shortage or production delay. We’ve
scoured the shelves for everything from baby formula to toilet paper and watched
as manufacturing and shipping delays have stymied the car industry.

The complex rehabilitation technology (CRT) industry hasn’t escaped these challenges. The CRT supply chain is a complicated, intricate system that involves organizations, people, activities, information and resources. So when something changes in one of those areas, it affects the rest of the supply chain.

CRT equipment is also highly customized, designed to fit the specific needs of each user. While some components of manual wheelchairs and powerchairs may be used in every chair, other components are more specialized. “This makes it hard for the entire supply chain to maintain service levels during these periods of disruption,” says Darren Lowman, NSM Chief Transformation Officer.

Let’s take a closer look at a few shortages or issues that are having a direct impact on CRT orders and repairs.

Aluminum is in short supply.

Aluminum, a metal used in
wheelchairs and a wide variety
of CRT products as well as
durable medical equipment
such as crutches, walkers and
canes, is in great demand.
Intense workforce shutdowns
in other parts of the world and
rising energy costs have slowed
production of the lightweight
metal, creating a shortage of
aluminum that’s affecting a
number of industries beyond
CRT, such as packaging,
breweries and more.

There’s a shortage of semiconductor chips.

Semiconductor chips,
sometimes called microchips,
are used in countless consumer
products, from cars to video
game consoles as well as
diagnostic equipment used
by healthcare providers, such
as ultrasound machines, CT
scanning devices and more.
They are also a vital component
of power wheelchairs and
power-assisted manual
wheelchairs. With production
slowed around the globe,
the chips are in high demand
and short supply, leading
to longer lead times on
CRT orders and repairs.

Logistical challenges
are further stressing
the supply chain.

Moving raw materials,
components and products
between locations is a major
part of the CRT supply chain.
While congestion at U.S.
ports has begun to ease,
transporting goods from
place to place is still a
challenge. Labor shortages
have further exacerbated
delays in production,
shipping, repairs and more.

Through all of these challenges, new ways of thinking and doing
things have arisen. At NSM, we have created new processes and
improved our communications—and those improvements won’t go away even after supply chain issues subside.

“Our main focus has always been to ensure we meet our clients’ needs so they can live life to the fullest.” Lowman says.

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