Scarcity and Abundance Depend on What We Need and Where We Are

My bedroom gets sunlight for only a few minutes every morning.  Because my room faces the north-east and because there are trees nearby, the morning sun’s rays shine through my window for only a moment, passing through a break between the tree branches. 

Then it’s gone, for the rest of the day. 

The sun’s rays hardly come in at all later in the year as the sun angles southward, away from shining directly onto my bedroom window. 

The availability of sunshine is relative to the place where it is received.  Extreme northern and southern regions of Earth get almost no sunlight in their respective winter seasons but receive almost 24 hours of sunlight during their summers.  We folks near the tropical equator get sunlight up to almost 12 hours every day.

Sunlight is free but how much we receive is beyond our control.  It is therefore abundant for some and scarce for others at different times of the year at different places of the Earth. 

The same applies for resources like water, agriculture, and fish.  Some places have plenty of these while others have to make do with much less.  For fossil fuels and minerals, there are times during the year when the stuff can easily be mined and drilled and when it’s difficult to do so (like in winters when the ground is icy hard).    

Technology offers some answers to maximise what we can get from resources but there’s only so much we can avail depending on the place and time of year. 

How we procure what we need when we need them boils down to how well we manage our inventories and schedule our operations.  We harvest, fish, or mine when seasonal stocks are abundant and accumulate enough to supply us through the lean months.  We carefully plan how much we will store to meet anticipated demand and invest in storage & logistics facilities so that we have enough to keep and sufficient resources to deliver. 

Both demand and supply are, however, fickle.  Consumers, for whatever reason, may want more or much less than forecasted.  What we harvest, fish, or mine may be more or much less than we expected.  In any case, we always need to adjust.  Whether items are perishable or not, it’s never really a good idea to have too much of anything and always downright unacceptable to have no more stock available to use or sell. 

We’d like to supply as much as we can to all buyers and exact tidy profits from doing so.  We are after all taught to be greedy; we want to sell as much as we can and obtain as much as we can get. 

Reality, for many of us, however, doesn’t work that way.  There will often be limits to how much we can get and how much we can sell.  We therefore choose whom to sell to and work with whatever supply would be realistically available.  In short, we budget and allocate. 

Management is a lot about setting targets and meeting them realistically.  As much as resources can be plentiful, there will only be so much we can avail at a given time.  And whether or not we have enough to meet demand, we can only make available finite quantities. 

There is no such thing as unlimited. 

About Ellery’s Essays

Published by Ellery

Since I started blogging in 2019, I've written personal insights about supply chains, operations management, & industrial engineering. I have also delved in topics that cover how we deal with people, property, and service providers. My mission is to boost productivity via offering solutions and ideas. If you like what I write or disagree with what I say, feel free to like, dislike, comment, or if you have a lengthy discourse, email me at ellery_l@yahoo.com ; I'm also on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ellery-samuel-lim-40b528b

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