Stay-At-Home Improvements Mean Appliance Shortages

Stay-At-Home Improvements Mean Appliance Shortages

December 16, 2020

A surge in home improvement projects and new home construction has created a strong demand for appliances from refrigerators to washing machines. As a result, manufacturers, retailers, shippers, and raw materials suppliers are struggling to keep up with the strong demand.

Amid item shortages, retailers like Lowe’s are shifting from in-store showrooms to direct-to-customer deliveries.


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This post is based on the Business Insider article, Kitchen appliances and washing machines are in short supply as families stuck inside turn to home-improvement projects, by Graham Rapier, October 23, 2020; the Consumer Reports article, How to Get a Deal During the Appliance Shortage, by Tobie Stanger, December 10, 2020, and the YouTube video in the Spotlight. Image source: Corbis/Superstock

Discussion Questions:

1. How does the surge in demand of appliances affect inventory management for manufacturers such as Whirlpool?

Guidance: Appliance manufacturers maintain a low level of inventory to begin with. The level of inventory has remained low despite high production, resulting in order backlog and item shortages.

2.  How does the surge in demand of appliances affect its supply chain?

Guidance Continue reading

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The Interconnected Modern Supply Chain

The Interconnected Modern Supply Chain

The supply chain for medical needs during the pandemic has highlighted the weaknesses of modern global supply chain management.

In lean operations, demand management, procurement management, and fulfillment management are integrally interrelated. The removal of redundancies in the supply chain, the reliance on offshoring, and the lack of a larger safety cushion are part of the just-in-time global supply chain design.

During this pandemic, the just-in-time system has backfired, causing critical healthcare supplies to be insufficient in both quantity and location.


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This post is based on The Hill article, Supply chain management is a vital weapon in the war against coronavirus, by Ricardo Ernst and Jerry Haar, April 15, 2020, and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: McGraw-Hill Education/Sandra Mesrine

Discussion Questions:

1. The article notes that 95% of surgical masks and 70% of tighter-fitting respirators such as the N95 mask are made overseas, mainly in China.  How does this negatively impact the supply chain in getting masks to hospitals in the United States?

Guidance: Continue reading

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Toilet Paper: A Potential Bullwhip Example

Toilet Paper: A Potential Bullwhip Example

April 19, 2020

Toilet paper demand from retailers is up 25% due to the pandemic.

Even though manufacturers are already operating their mills 24/7, the capacity may be constrained as the workforce is reduced to prevent the virus spread.

Demand may or may not be an issue, depending how long the panic buying associated with the pandemic lasts.  As of the date of this post, most retailers reported being able to resupply stores from their warehouses.  Some manufacturers are shipping directly to retailers to cut lead time and restock their warehouses.

There are two major questions confronting the mills:  Can the mills increase capacity if the pandemic lasts multiple months? Will demand drop because consumers overbought and bullwhip the mills?


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This post is based on the CNN article, Toilet paper makers: ‘What we are dealing with here is uncharted’, by Parija Kavilanz, March 19, 2020, and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: Comstock Images/Alamy Stock Photo.

Discussion Questions:

1. How can the Continue reading

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