VW Rethinks Globalization

MARCH 31, 2022

For years, Volkswagen thrived as a global company, building its cars all around the world. But as war, health scares and trade disputes roll back decades of globalization, the firm is changing its manufacturing approaches to adapt. VW’s goal now, writes The Wall Street Journal (March 28, 2022), is to shore up access to components and raw materials and to shorten supply chains to make its regional businesses less dependent on faraway suppliers.

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Amazon Air’s Supply Chain Obsession

MARCH 24, 2022

There is nothing like a pandemic and a European war to highlight the value of logistics, writes The Wall Street Journal (March 17, 2022).  Amazon’s growing fleet of planes shows that it is investing hard to deliver—probably at the expense of FedEx, UPS, and DHL.

Amazon’s cargo airline currently makes an average of 187 flights a day, compared with 85 in May 2020.

Since the Covid-19 crisis started, e-commerce purchases have skyrocketed and a lot of belly-hold space in planes has been removed. Many airfreight companies have seized the opportunity to grow. Amazon has taken the lead. It now has as many as 110 jets—less than DHL’s 202, UPS’ 289 and FedEx’s 474 but a lot more than the 50 it had at the start of 2020.

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Easing Worker Shortages with Automation

MARCH 13, 2022
We used to ask whether robots will take over the jobs of humans. But that’s not quite the right question in 2022, as finding workers to fill the large number of jobs currently open in manufacturing is almost impossible. “There aren’t enough workers,” says a 3M exec. “And it’s not just large factories with low mix and high volume that are seeing this, it’s also medium-sized and small companies. Everyone is looking to automation to bridge the worker shortage.”

Operations managers are getting the message and in 2021, factories and other industrial users ordered 39,708 robots (valued at over $2 billion), a 28% increase from 2020. While robots have been in auto plants for a long time, orders from non-automotive companies now represent 58% of the North American totals.

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