Supply chain shortages have become a common sight over the past year as businesses were hit with sudden shifts in consumer demand, global production disruptions, and shipping delays during the pandemic. Everything from toilet paper to semiconductor chips have been affected, and some businesses are looking to adapt their business models to include more flexibility, rather than prioritizing cost and efficiency.

Many companies rely on just-in-time systems, which involve having companies receive goods only as them need them for the production process, which reduces inventory costs. But as companies shift away from just-in-time models, inventories have been growing.

In April 2021, manufacturers’ and trade inventories were up 1.3%, compared to the year before, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We have a really fragile global supply chain that had been overly leaned out,” said Dr. Nada Sanders, distinguished professor of supply chain management at Northeastern University in Boston. “Things are going to change, but it’s going to take a long time.”

She spoke to Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal about the factors driving supply chain shortages.

The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Nada Sanders: We saw the toilet paper shortages, hand sanitizer, you know, meat, right? And so, people realize now, “wait, hey, you know, I don’t just press a button and things magically show up.” Now imagine if that’s what toilet paper, what’s the case going to be when you’re talking about chips? When you’re talking about, you know pharma and so forth?

Listen to full interview.