California’s Ag Labor Shortages Lead to Automation

California’s Ag Labor Shortages Lead to Automation

May 19, 2019

California’s farmers, who produce almost half of the nation’s fresh fruits and vegetables and over 90% of tree nuts, are increasingly mechanizing operations to cope with ongoing labor shortages and increasing costs of labor.

In particular, mechanized planters, weeders, and harvesters, along with specialized tractor attachments are gaining popularity.  Robotic farm technology is also being developed to harvest crops like strawberries and grapes.

One other potential way to address the labor shortage lies in improving the cumbersome temporary visa program that allows people from other countries to enter legally for the purpose of filling jobs that American workers don’t want to do.


Video Spotlight: Farms Face A Severe Labor Shortage And These Robots Are Here To Help


This post is based on the CNBC article, California farmers increasingly turning to mechanization due to labor shortages, says survey, by Jeff Daniels, May 1, 2019; and the YouTube video, Farms Face A Severe Labor Shortage And These Robots Are Here To Help, by CNBC, March 8, 2018. Image source: Shutterstock / tanger

Discussion Questions:

1. What are some of the pros and cons of increased use of mechanization?

Guidance: For larger farm operations with the capital Continue reading

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McDonald’s Simplifies Operations By Removing Fancy Burgers

McDonald’s Simplifies Operations By Removing Fancy Burgers

McDonald’s is decreasing the number of menu items in an effort to improve speed of service and order accuracy.

The fast food chain has made a lot of changes in the last few years. OM in the News previously reported on McDonald’s decision to remove artificial ingredients from a number of products, new ordering kiosks to reduce queuing, and it’s $1-2-3 menu.

This latest change to decrease product lines allows McDonald’s to improve stores’ operational efficiencies.

This post is based on the CNN article, Here’s why McDonald’s is ditching its fancy burgers, by Danielle Wiener-Bronner, April 18, 2019. Image source: Shutterstock/stormcab

Discussion Questions:

1. How does McDonald’s menu item simplification enhance both efficiency and effectiveness? How do efficiency and effectiveness relate to the competitive priorities?

Guidance: Students should recognize that fewer menu items will reduce inventory/supply chain complexities and improve store operations as efficiency improvements.

Effectiveness is improved by delivering the menu items faster.  Discuss with students how effectiveness can sometimes be the result of efficiency improvements, as in this case.

Have students link the competitive priorities being addressed in this article to either efficiency and/or effectiveness improvements.

This is a straightforward whiteboard exercise Continue reading

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Panera Pushes Breakfast as Lunch Maxes Capacity

Panera Pushes Breakfast as Lunch Maxes Capacity

Panera is reaching maximum capacity at lunch in many locations.

To continue growing, the company is exploring opportunities in the breakfast time slot.  Panera provides alternative options to traditional fast-food, and is also trying out a new ordering app.

The key is to provide the customer with a speedy delivery process while maintaining quality.


Video Spotlight: Panera expanding on breakfast


This post is based on the CNN article, Why Panera is redoing breakfast, by Danielle Wiener-Bronner, April 15, 2019; and the YouTube video, Panera expanding on breakfast, by WETM 18 News, April 15, 2019. Image source: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Discussion Questions:

1. What are other options to expand capacity that Panera could consider that are not mentioned in the article?

Guidance: This is a good opportunity to review service capacity options.  Panera is trying to create demand to fill the capacity at breakfast.  What could Panera do to handle more lunch demand volume?  Students should mention the “tap and go” system added to the lunch service delivery system, and discussion should include an application of both level capacity and chase demand options at Panera during lunch hour.

2. Are order winners at breakfast Continue reading

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