Chips and Chip-Making

May 5, 2022

The drought in chip availability that has hit auto production, raised electronics prices and stoked supply-chain worries in capitals around the globe has a new pain point: a lack of chips needed for the machines that make chips.

The wait time it takes to get machinery for chip-making—one of the world’s most complex and delicate kinds of manufacturing—has extended over recent months. Early in the pandemic it took months from placing an order to receiving the equipment. That time frame has stretched to 2 or 3 years in some cases. Deliveries of previously placed orders are also coming in late.

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Delivery Drones are Arriving, at Last

APRIL 8, 2022

“After nearly a decade of largely unfulfilled hype about flying robots dropping orders at your doorstep,” writes The Wall Street Journal (April 2-3, 2022), “several companies have started commercial operations in the U.S. involving dozens or hundreds of deliveries a day at each location.” The companies are vying to be Americans’ choice when they want a bottle of Advil, a takeout meal, or the next iPhone delivered in under 30 minutes—once federal regulators enable broader rollouts.

Zipline recently started working on deliveries with Walmart at an Arkansas location. Flytrex, an Israeli startup focused on food delivery in the U.S. suburbs, just announced a new delivery station in Texas after 2 years of testing. Wing, a unit of Google, has rapidly increased its deliveries in Virginia as a result of the pandemic. While still small-scale, the operations mean that in a handful of locations, regular people now can try these services for themselves.

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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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