Big Ship Creates Big Backlog

Big Ship Creates Big Backlog

When the Ever Given got stuck in the Suez Canal, its gigantic size became a gigantic problem.

To support an ever-expanding global trade, ship size has been increasing for decades. Today, the largest ships can carry between 18,000 and 24,000 containers.  A larger cargo makes perfect economic sense because the cost of shipping one container decreases as cargo capacity increases. However, when things go wrong, big ships mean big disruptions in an already strained global supply chain. It is estimated that the stranded ship held up 12% of global trade at an estimated cost of $9.6 billion a day. This financial and logistic threat, along with more elusive cost savings in the future, may signal the need for fresh ideas in global shipping.

 


Video Spotlight: The Ripple Effects of the Backlog


This post is based on The New York Times article, Why the World’s Container Ships Grew So Big, by N. Chokshi, March 30, 2021, and the YouTube video, Cargo Ship Freed from Suez Canal, but Shipping Backlog Could Last, by CBC News: The National, March 29, 2021. Image source: (c) Glow Images/SuperStock.

Discussion Questions:

1. Will the short-lived blockage have a major Continue reading

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UPS and FedEx Manage Capacity for Peak Vaccine Shipping

UPS and FedEx Manage Capacity for Peak Vaccine Shipping

April 4, 2021

UPS and FedEx are planning to increase vaccine delivery capacity threefold by May.

As of February 2021, the two companies were delivering about 14 million doses per week.  UPS in particular believes it can still prioritize timely vaccine delivery when increased production by multiple manufacturers allows triple the volume in May 2021.


Video Spotlight: 


This post is based on the Bloomberg article, UPS expects 40% jump in vaccine doses next week, peak in May, by Thomas Black,  February 25, 2021, and the YouTube video in the Spotlight. Image source: FG Trade/Getty Images

Discussion Questions:

1. How have distribution points grown since the start of 2021?

Guidance: Distribution points are becoming increasingly varied as local and state governments open up stadiums, arenas, amusement parks, and other large-scale venues in addition to smaller outlets like pharmacy and grocery chains.  Whereas there were about 14,000 distribution points in the vaccine supply chain when UPS and FedEx began deliveries, there were 100,000 as of late February 2021, with that number increasing rapidly.  As distribution points open up, more delivery capacity is needed Continue reading

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LocusBots Track Real-Time Warehouse Operations

LocusBots Track Real-Time Warehouse Operations

In response to a surge in e-commerce, Locus Robotics is developing better and more efficient robots to handle increased warehousing demand.

Locus Robotics’ robots are called “LocusBots”.  They are autonomous and mobile and can track real-time warehouse operations using iPhone or wearable technology.

New features for LocusBots to better handle item picking and handling in warehouses are in the research and development stage.


Video Spotlight: 


This post is based on the Forbes article, Meet The Newest Robotics Unicorn: Locus Robotics Raises $150 Million At A $1 Billion Valuation On Surging E-Commerce Sales, by Amy Feldman,  February 17, 2021, and the YouTube video in the Spotlight. Image source: Baloncici/iStock/Getty Images

Discussion Questions:

1. What impacts do robots have on warehouse operations?

Guidance: Robots are automating warehouse operations in general, and item picking and handling in particular. A robot can pick up more bulky/heavy items, and move them to desirable locations, faster than its human counterpart.  Warehouse operations will be more efficient and reliable and have less errors and injuries.

2.  In what ways is product design important to Continue reading

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