March 2021 Archive

March 31, 2021
Why the World’s Container Ships Grew So Big (NYT)

For decades, shipping lines have been making bigger and bigger vessels, driven by an expanding global appetite for electronics, clothes, toys and other goods. The growth in ship size, which sped up in recent years, often made economic sense: Bigger vessels are generally cheaper to build and operate on a per-container basis. But the largest ships can come with their own set of problems, not only for the canals and ports that have to handle them but for the companies that build them.

March 30, 2021
How Toyota thrives when the chips are down

Toyota may have pioneered the just-in-time manufacturing strategy but when it comes to chips, its decision to stockpile what have become key components in cars goes back a decade to the Fukushima disaster. After the catastrophe severed Toyota’s supply chains on March 11, 2011, the company realized the lead-time for semiconductors was way too long to cope with devastating shocks such as natural disasters. It came up with a business continuity plan (BCP) that required suppliers to stockpile anywhere from two to six months’ worth of chips for the Japanese carmaker, depending on the time it takes from order to delivery.

March 26, 2021
In Suez Canal, Stuck Ship Is a Warning About Excessive Globalization (NYT)

The world got another warning this week about the perils of its heavy reliance on global supply chains. As a single ship ran aground in the Suez Canal, shutting down traffic in both directions, international commerce confronted a monumental traffic jam with potentially grave consequences.

March 23, 2021
America’s Covid Swab Supply Depends on Two Cousins Who Hate Each Other (Bloomberg)

Only two companies in the world make the nasopharyngeal swabs, which are used for COVID tests: Copan Diagnostics Inc. in northern Italy and a small, family-owned business in Maine called Puritan Medical Products Co. The swabs are highly specialized devices requiring precise manufacturing in proprietary machines to meet the strict regulatory requirements of hospitals. No other companies could quickly step in.

March 22, 2021
NXP could lose $100 million due to weather shutdown of Austin plants

NXP Semiconductors could lose $100 million in revenue from the shutdown of its Austin chip-making operations due to last month’s winter storms. Its two Austin fabrication plants are back up and running nearly a month after they lost power during statewide outages when sub-freezing temperatures swept across the state. A number of Austin’s largest industrial power users – including NXP and Samsung –were ordered by the city to idle or shut down their operations the week of Feb.15. The semiconductor companies had power restored last month, but have not been operational for weeks following the shutdown. Samsung, which is the biggest electricity user on Austin Energy’s power grid, has not yet resumed full operations at its Austin fabrication facility – a situation that industry experts say could be costing the technology giant millions of dollars.

March 22, 2021
Even Garbage Is Using Blockchain Now

Pilot projects that use innovative data collection to encourage recycling and responsible waste management are underway in Argentina, India and the U.S.

March 18, 2021
Everywhere You Look, the Global Supply Chain Is a Mess (WSJ)

Supply chain woes mounted world-wide for makers of everything from cars and clothing to home siding and medical needle containers, as the extreme Texas weather and port backlogs compounded problems for manufacturers already beset by pandemic disruptions.

March 8, 2021
Chaos Strikes Global Shipping (NYT)

Around the planet, the pandemic has disrupted trade to an extraordinary degree, driving up the cost of shipping goods and adding a fresh challenge to the global economic recovery. The virus has thrown off the choreography of moving cargo from one continent to another.