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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Rare Earth Elements and the Triple Bottom Line

Rare Earth Elements and the Triple Bottom Line

July 10, 2020

COVID-19’s impact on supply chains has brought attention to the United States’ reliance on China and other countries for manufacturing critical items using Rare Earth Elements (REE).

REE materials are needed to make hybrid car batteries, computer touch screens, and special magnets used in the defense of the nation. The issue arose from environmental regulations that begin in the 1960s to the 1980s.  As costs rose to make products using REE in the United States, manufacturing shifted to other countries.


Video Spotlight: 


This post is based on the Supply Chain Brain article, It’s Time to Reconsider the Math on Rare Earth Elements, by Shubho Chatterjee and Joe Carson, May 19, 2020, and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: Peter Sobolev/Shutterstock

Discussion Questions:

1.  What are options that the United States could consider to reshore REE manufacturing capability?

Guidance: REE manufacturing left the United States in part due to Triple Bottom Line considerations several decades ago.  This is a good general discussion question.  Students may argue Continue reading

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COVID-19 Exposes the Fragility of Our Global Supply Chains

COVID-19 Exposes the Fragility of Our Global Supply Chains

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. What happens when several links are weak?

If you think shortages of consumer products and personal protective equipment are worrisome, think again. Despite prior warnings that pandemics may paralyze our supply chains, we may soon run out of many other goods, including food and critical vaccines. Deep, scattered supply chains and reliance on a few global suppliers have hindered our ability to respond quickly to changes in demand. As it turns out, a lean supply chain may not be an agile one.


Video Spotlight: Making Vaccines


This post is based on the FiveThirtyEight article, How COVID-19 Is Wreaking Havoc on our Ability to Make Things – Including Vaccines, by M. Koerth, April 15, 2020, and the YouTube video, Vaccine Manufacture: It’s Complicated, by GSK, May 4, 2016. Image source: Shutterstock/Ienetstan.

Discussion Questions:

1. What are the current hurdles in the manufacture of vaccines?

Guidance: The hurdles include: ingredient sourcing (thousands of ingredients coming from factories with many tiers of suppliers; limited quantities of materials to meet surging global demand), worldwide shortage of glass since 2015, and heavy reliance on overseas suppliers and manufacturers.

2. What are Continue reading

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