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The audiovisual (AV) industry has faced unprecedented supply chain challenges over the past four years, disrupting production schedules and testing the resilience of businesses.

Just as the need for videoconferencing was skyrocketing, disruptions forced the AV industry to adapt and be creative to meet the ongoing demand for AV products and services. While the good news is that the industry has now mostly recovered, let’s look at some of the challenges and the strategies that audiovisual manufacturers and integrators developed to overcome supply chain issues.

Semiconductor Shortage

The global semiconductor shortage created a cascade of effects. Beginning in late 2019, the shortage of semiconductors had a profound impact on the AV industry. Semiconductors are essential components in a wide range of AV equipment, from projectors and displays to sound systems and digital signage. The shortage led to extended lead times, product shortages, and price increases, putting a strain on AV integrators, manufacturers, and end-users alike.

Some of the innovations used by integrators to satisfy customer demands included:

Software-based solutions: Replacing hardware-dependent functionalities with software-based alternatives, where possible.

Modular and scalable designs: Utilizing modular and scalable AV systems that can be built out gradually with readily available components rather than relying on complete pre-built systems.

Cloud-based technologies: Leveraging cloud-based AV solutions and services to reduce reliance on on-premises hardware.

Port Congestion

Port congestion, particularly at major shipping hubs like Los Angeles and Long Beach, resulted in delays, increased shipping costs, and a lack of available containers, further disrupting the flow of goods, including AV equipment, worldwide.

AV companies responded by optimizing their inventory management practices, using forecasting tools and data analytics to better anticipate demand and maintain optimal stock levels. Some AV manufacturers addressed supply chain resilience in their product design, using modular components and multiple suppliers to reduce reliance on specific materials or manufacturing processes.

Today, many AV manufacturers are exploring nearshoring and onshoring strategies, moving production closer to their target markets to reduce reliance on long-distance shipping and mitigate the impact of possible supply chain issues in the future.

Labor Shortages

Labor shortages added another layer of complexity to the supply chain challenges. These shortages slowed production, hindered distribution, and contributed to rising costs.

Facing a tight labor market, audiovisual integrators streamlined processes and training for their field teams. Relying on clear and consistent workflows and documentation, using cloud-based platforms for project management, and strengthening cross-training initiatives contributed to greater efficiency and sustained quality for installations and services.

Integrators continued encouraging customers to take advantage of remote monitoring and diagnostics capabilities. By utilizing software and tools for remote monitoring of AV systems, technicians could diagnose and fix issues remotely, saving time and travel costs for both integrators and their customers.

Moving Forward

Despite the persistent supply chain disruptions, the AV industry has demonstrated remarkable resilience and adaptability. Successful integrators met the challenges by working closely with clients to anticipate needs and secure components as early as possible in the project timeline. They maintained transparent communication about delays and explored alternative solutions collaboratively. And when necessary, they adjusted project schedules and timelines to accommodate component availability and minimize downtime.

The good news today is that the AV industry has rebounded. AV integrators can plan projects with customers, order products from manufacturers, and maintain installation schedules with regular lead times. As the supply chain landscape continues to evolve, the AV industry will undoubtedly continue to adapt and find new solutions to ensure the delivery of high-quality AV solutions.

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