Rare Earth Elements and the Triple Bottom Line

Rare Earth Elements and the Triple Bottom Line

July 10, 2020

COVID-19’s impact on supply chains has brought attention to the United States’ reliance on China and other countries for manufacturing critical items using Rare Earth Elements (REE).

REE materials are needed to make hybrid car batteries, computer touch screens, and special magnets used in the defense of the nation. The issue arose from environmental regulations that begin in the 1960s to the 1980s.  As costs rose to make products using REE in the United States, manufacturing shifted to other countries.


Video Spotlight: 


This post is based on the Supply Chain Brain article, It’s Time to Reconsider the Math on Rare Earth Elements, by Shubho Chatterjee and Joe Carson, May 19, 2020, and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: Peter Sobolev/Shutterstock

Discussion Questions:

1.  What are options that the United States could consider to reshore REE manufacturing capability?

Guidance: REE manufacturing left the United States in part due to Triple Bottom Line considerations several decades ago.  This is a good general discussion question.  Students may argue Continue reading

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Manufacturers Plan Nearshoring and Reshoring

Manufacturers Plan Nearshoring and Reshoring

In April 2020, 878 North American companies were surveyed, with 64% of those companies reporting they will likely reshore or nearshore manufacturing and sourcing to avoid supply chain disruptions in the future.  Manufacturers can shorten lead time and cut transportation costs by reshoring and/or nearshoring.

The handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in China further illustrated the vulnerabilities associated with sourcing from distant regions of the world.


Video Spotlight: 


This post is based on the Supply Chain Dive article, 64% of manufacturers say reshoring is likely following pandemic: survey, by Matt Leonard, May 14, 2020, and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: Shutterstock / 3D_creation

Discussion Questions:

1.  Let’s suppose a United States company is planning to maintain a current supplier in China and plans to nearshore a new supplier in Mexico.  What is the best sourcing strategy for each supplier from the company’s perspective?

Guidance: Lead time from China is longer, but the costs may or may not be lower.  Lead time from Mexico should be Continue reading

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Possible Meat Shortages Due to Plant Closures

Possible Meat Shortages Due to Plant Closures

Three of the United State’s largest pork processing plants, namely Tyson Foods, Smithfield, and JBS, were closed because employees their tested positive for the coronavirus.

The plant closures reduce the production of meat by 25% and may result in meat shortages in grocery stores.  In addition, farmers are impacted as they cannot sell their livestock to be processed, leading to a serious food waste issue that exacerbates disruptions to the meat supply chain.


Video Spotlight:


This post is based on the Eco Watch article, Tyson Foods Warns of Meat Shortage Following Coronavirus Slaughterhouse Closures, by Olivia Rosane, April 28, 2020, and the YouTube videos in the Video Spotlight. Image source: John A. Rizzo/Digital Vision/Getty Images.

Discussion Questions:

1. How does the COVID-19 pandemic affect the meat supply chain?

Guidance: The pandemic affects  the downstream and upstream meat supply chain.  The production of meat is reduced by 25% because meat processing plants are closed as workers are sickened with the coronavirus.  Continue reading

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