Manufacturing is never simple, but it’s rarely been as hard as it was in 2021. The year began with optimism as COVID-19 vaccines became widely available in the U.S.; people began returning to more-normal lives and economic activity rose.

That optimism was short-lived as the stresses of the past two years ravaged the supply chain-denying automakers and consumer electronics makers the chips needed to finish products, delaying arrivals of products from overseas as ships waited to unload goods at overcrowded ports, and forcing consumers to select Option B, C or D when their first choices weren’t available.

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