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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Operation Warp Speed

Operation Warp Speed

March 15, 2021

Not since World War II and the Manhattan Project, has a project been so important to the world as Operations Warp Speed.  Its goal was to take a process that normally takes years to complete, and bring the COVID-19 vaccine to the world.

As a result of its importance, a public-private effort using many resources sped the development of the vaccine.  Under less urgent circumstances, vaccine development may take up to 10 years, billions of dollars, and have a high failure rate.  Several COVID-19 vaccines have been developed and made ready for distribution in less than one year.

A variety of tactics were applied to the problem.  One is the combination of private/government collaboration.  Additionally, the US Federal Government allocated $10 billion in federal funds to support the effort.

This money allowed organizations to apply funding to crash activities, in order to reduce completion time.  In many cases, activities normally completed in sequential fashion were completed simultaneously, or at least allowed to overlap.  For example, many phases of the clinical trials were overlapped to reduce time.

Also, with government funding, production of the vaccines began before the clinical trials had ended.  Under Continue reading

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Virgin Hyperloop: First New Mass Transport in 100 Years?

Virgin Hyperloop: First New Mass Transport in 100 Years?

March 2, 2021

Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop, is in the news again, this time pitching the idea of a 43-minute commute from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

A new concept video accompanies images of what customers of the future can expect.  Walder envisions this technology being used primarily for “short haul” routes for both passengers and cargo, and touts it as the first new form of mass transportation in 100 years.


Video Spotlight: 


This post is based on the Fox Business article, Virgin Hyperloop reveals passenger experience on high-speed trains, by Ann Schmidt, February 3, 2021, and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: Amy Johansson/Shutterstock

Discussion Questions:

1.  In what phase of the product life cycle are hyperloops?

Guidance: Hyperloop technology is in the earliest introductory phase. This is a time when a lot of money needs to be invested in developing the product, introducing it and its uses, and marketing its potential.

A number of different companies and business leaders are in a race Continue reading

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