Hyperloops: Speeding toward the future

Hyperloops: Speeding toward the future

July 30, 2018

Hyperloops are vaccum-sealed tubes predicted to enable high-speed transportation. Preliminary feasibility and environmental impact studies are set to begin for our nation’s first hyperloop route, which would go from Pittsburgh-Columbus-Chicago in less than 45 minutes while traveling up to 700 mph.

These speeds are possible because only a small amount of propulsion is required to push the transport pod through the near vacuum environment inside the tube.  Virgin Hyperloop One hopes to have a working prototype system by 2023, with the Pittsburgh-Columbus-Chicago route completed sometime after that.

At first the route will likely be used to move freight, but later it could move people as well.  Other studies are also in the works for other locations, but this project is about a year of two ahead of other similar projects.

Interest in hyperloops has been growing for several years. Engineering students flocked to SpaceX earlier this month for the company’s third hyperloop competition, competing for top speed on the company’s private track. Elon Musk has called hyperloops a “5th mode of transportation.”

This post is based on the TribLive.com article, Pittsburgh-Columbus-Chicago hyperloop route set to begin preliminary studies, by Aaron Aupperlee, June 26, 2018; and Continue reading

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Trucker shortages affecting supply chains

Trucker shortages affecting supply chains

July 19, 2018

OM in the News has previously posted about the national trucker shortage. The saga continues, and looks to worsen: there are 63,000 positions unfilled this year, and the number is expected to more than double in the future.

This is a challenging problem, especially since almost every item that is sold in the U.S. is transported by truck at some point.  Trucking companies are raising wages to the $60,000 – $70,000 range, with full benefits and signing bonuses, even for new trucking school graduates.  Those ready to work are snapped up quickly.

The dangerous and demanding nature of trucking makes it difficult to attract qualified workers despite the promise of generous compensation.  Rising wages are being passed along to consumers as transportation costs increase distribution costs and force companies to raise prices.

Delivery delays have become common, affecting inventory management and product availability.

This post is based on the Washington Post article, America’s severe trucker shortage could undermine the prosperous economy, by Heather Long, June 28, 2018. Image source: Rouzes/Getty Images.

Discussion Questions:

1. How does the trucking shortage impact manufacturers or other businesses?

Guidance: Trucker shortages mean businesses are finding it difficult to find Continue reading

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Chick-fil-A’s Chicken Shortage

Chick-fil-A’s Chicken Shortage

July 18, 2018

What happens when Chick-fil-A has no chicken?

In Texas, Chick-fil-A had to temporarily close two restaurants because an issue was characterized as a “delivery delay.”  This problem was much smaller than the KFC chicken shortage in the UK earlier this year, when almost all of its restaurants were shut down for lack of its key ingredient, but it none-the-less disrupted the organization’s operations in a very significant way.

In an unrelated issue, in mid-June, In-N-Out shut down in Texas due to an unspecified problem with the quality of its hamburger buns.

This post is based on the Inc.com article, Oh No, Chick-fil-A. First KFC, Then In-N-Out. Now You Too?, by Bill Murphy, Jr., June 30, 2018. Image source: Livingpix/Getty Images.

Discussion Questions:

1. How does this article pertain to operations strategy and the socio-cultural dimension of the external environment?

Guidance: While the causes behind these product shortages have not been clearly identified, the issue of stockouts may become more widespread in the future due to the shortage of qualified truckers in our nation.  Trucking is often viewed as a dangerous and difficult occupation, and companies are struggling to find enough drivers.  Even one cancelled or Continue reading

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