Hacks and Cracks Disrupt the Supply Chain

Hacks and Cracks Disrupt the Supply Chain

July 10, 2021

Since the onset of COVID-19, shortages of products have been common.

Many shortages were the result of the pandemic, including unexpected increases in demand, and facilities shutdown due to sick workers. With the re-opening of the economy, shortages have continued. Demand spikes, coupled with organizations being unable to re-staff enough workers, has led to product shortages in areas such as lumber.

However, not all disruptions in the supply chain are directly tied to the pandemic. Recently, the Colonial Pipeline was shut down due to hackers. This pipeline is one of the largest in the world, stretching from Houston, Texas into the northeastern United States. Its 5-day shutdown led to gasoline shortages along its length.

Another disruption to supply chains is being caused by a crack in the I-40 bridge in Memphis, Tennessee.  The crack has forced the closure of the bridge for months, and temporarily shut down barge traffic on the Mississippi River. Traffic from this bridge has been diverted to the I-55 bridge, backing up traffic. Memphis hosts FedEx’s largest hub, and is a key artery for many supply chains.

Disruptions such as these illustrate weaknesses in the US infrastructure that can disrupt supply chains.


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The Automat Returns

The Automat Returns

Under the category of “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” is the return of the Automat.

The original Automat opened in Berlin in 1895.  America’s first Automat was opened by Joseph Horn and Frank Hardart in Philadelphia, in 1902. Their Automat chain, Horn and Hardart, grew in popularity, with over 100 restaurants in New York City by the 1950s.

Restaurants served home-style comfort food.  Many even had a wall of pies, with hot coffee being one of their most popular items.  Diners could see their item through a window, and then insert a coin and turn a chrome and porcelain handle to receive their hot meal.  At its peak, over 800,000 customers ate at a Horn and Hardart’s each day.

The Automat offered customers an efficient and affordable dining experience, with at one time over 400 choices of food.  Behind the scenes, an assembly line of workers replenished the items in the machines.

However, their popularity declined as the popularity of fast food restaurants, such as McDonald’s and Burger King, grew to replace them in the marketplace.  In fact, in the 1970s, several of Horn and Hardart’s Automats were replaced Continue reading

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The Future of Ghost Kitchens

The Future of Ghost Kitchens

OM in the News previously reported on the rise of ghost kitchens, and we’re back with an update. Ghost kitchens as a concept have grown tremendously popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Red Robin recently introduced 3 national ghost brands — Chicken Sammy’s, The Wing Dept, and Fresh Set.  They join a long list of restaurants using the ghost kitchen concept. Restaurant chains and their products include Chili’s It’s Just Wings, Applebee’s Cosmic Wings, and Blooming Brands (the parent company for Outback Steakhouse and Bonefish Grill) with Aussie Grill and Tender Shack.

A ghost kitchen typically uses a kitchen that can be shared across several companies and/or brands.  Orders are placed online or through apps for delivery using services such as Uber Eats or DoorDash.

Franchises are using ghost brands to bring in more business, especially with less dine-in due to COVID-19.  MrBeast is an example of a ghost franchise.  They take the orders through their app, and send it to a number of ghost kitchens to be filled and delivered.  They opened over 300 locations overnight, using the ghost franchise concept.

A third variation is that local kitchens can join a ghost franchise, take Continue reading

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