Semiconductor Shortage Takes a Bite out of Apple

Semiconductor Shortage Takes a Bite out of Apple

May 18, 2021

 

 

A shortage of semiconductors is affecting the production of cars and electronics.

This is another example of a bottleneck in a strained supply chain. Several factors converged to create the current situation, and it appears that consumers will have to endure the consequences of disrupted supply chains for some time. A solution to the problem is to strengthen the domestic supply chains, but it will take years to implement.

 


Video Spotlight: The Reasons for the Semiconductor Shortage


This post is based on the npr.org article, Get Ready for a Shortage of iPads and MacBooks, by C. Domonoske, April 29, 2021, and the YouTube video, Worsening Semiconductor Shortage Spreads Beyond Vehicle Manufacturers to Hit Apple, Samsung, by Arirang News Center, April 30, 2021. Image source: Jag_cz/Shutterstock.

Discussion Questions:

1. According to the information provided in the video and the article, what are the conditions that created a shortage of semiconductors?

Guidance: The underlying problem is the reliance on a handful of suppliers throughout the world. Even though US companies have 47% of the global chip market, they manufacture only 12% of the chips. Today, Taiwan and South Korea have the most advanced fabrication Continue reading

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Out of Delivery Drivers and Out of Gas

Out of Delivery Drivers and Out of Gas

 

Gas prices have been going up, and this trend is expected to continue.

Usually, oil shortages fuel this phenomenon, but today, there is an abundant oil supply. The weak link is somewhere else in the supply chain: delivery from refineries to gas stations. During the pandemic, tanker drivers quit their jobs and changed careers. As people are starting to travel again, it is difficult to fill these positions, and the shortage of drivers is being felt at the pump.

 

 


Video Spotlight: No Panic at the Gas Pump


This post is based on the NBC News article, Shortage of Delivery Drivers Means Some Gas Station Pumps Could Run Dry, by P.A. Eisenstein, April 28, 2021, and the YouTube video, Experts Say Drivers Won’t See Difference at Gas Pumps Despite Fuel Driver Shortage, by WBIR Channel 10, April 30, 2021. Image source: kabby/Shutterstock.

Discussion Questions:

1. Describe the widespread workforce shortage in the trucking industry. How does it impact the availability of fuel at gas stations?

Guidance: The shortage of drivers is exacerbated by shortages of dispatchers and office staff, qualified mechanics, registered inspectors, and design-certified engineers. The lack of capacity has created a bottleneck Continue reading

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Highly Automated Microfactories for E.V. Start-Up

Highly Automated Microfactories for E.V. Start-Up

A developer of electric vans and buses bets that smaller is cheaper. UPS seems to agree.

Automobile production and assembly line have been intrinsically linked for more than a century. Volume production justifies the high capital investments. Nevertheless, Arrival, an E.V. start-up, believes that highly automated microfactories are the way to go to produce small volumes of delivery vehicles. The production relies on flexible robots able to perform a variety of tasks. This unproven approach is appealing to UPS, BlackRock, Kia, and Hyundai. Time will tell whether it can actually produce quality output at a lower cost.

 


Video Spotlight: Gigafactory vs. Microfactory


This post is based on The New York Times article, An E.V. Start-Up Backed by UPS Does Away with the Assembly Line, by N.E. Boudette, April 21, 2021, and the YouTube video, Gigafactory? How About Microfactory? Arrival Rethinks How an EV is Built, by Undecided with Matt Ferrell, December 22, 2020. Image source: REUTERS/Alamy Stock Photo.

1. Why is the assembly line the process layout of choice for car manufacturing?

Guidance: The primary process characteristics of car manufacturing are repetitiveness (low variety) and high volume. In order to produce the required volume, resources Continue reading

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