October 21, 2021

For months, supply chain problems have led to increased prices and long delays that show no sign of ending anytime soon. As a result, industry analysts are recommending that consumers start their holiday shopping as soon as possible if they want their items to arrive by December. While supplies remain low because of factors like jammed ports and truck shortages, demand is expected to ramp up this holiday season as experts predict a 7 to 9 percent increase in retail Continue reading

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October 5, 2021

More than 3.5 billion people around the world communicate through Facebook and its collection of apps like Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Oculus. But for about six hours yesterday, no one was using these platforms as Facebook disappeared from the Internet. Company representatives said that this outage occurred when “backbone routers that coordinate network traffic” failed and brought services completely to a halt. The total shutdown meant that Facebook could not remotely reset its network, requiring it to send out a Continue reading

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October 1, 2021

For months, supply chains across the globe have become highly disrupted due to a multitude of factors related to the pandemic. From closed factories and clogged ports to a shortage of shipping containers, supply chain snags are harming small businesses and could possibly affect the flow of goods during the Christmas season. And in the immediate term, shipping issues are contributing to rising inflation which then leads to price increases, something that has been felt by consumers across Continue reading

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September 3, 2021

It’s a scenario that plenty of fast food fans have faced before: they pull up to the drive-thru speaker at McDonald’s and ask for their favorite frozen treat, only to hear the reply, “Sorry, but the machine is broken right now.” Responsible for about 60 percent of the chain’s desserts, the McFlurry machine is a vital asset for Golden Arches franchises across the country, even though their unreliability has become something of a running joke. Along with serving as the Continue reading

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September 1, 2021

Over the course of the pandemic, problems with global supply chains have affected companies both large and small, leading some to reconsider their relationships with international manufacturers. Many other businesses are waiting for their products to arrive after weeks or even months of delays. For instance, the toy maker MGA Entertainment said its stock of Rainbow High dolls has been held up overseas due to a shortage of shipping containers. As a result, the company will likely not Continue reading

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August 10, 2021

For decades, many American companies have relied on facilities in Southeast Asia to manufacture products that are then shipped over for dometic sale. Along with reducing production costs, firms also saved on inventory space through “just-in-time” ordering that allowed them to quickly bring in materials from overseas when necessary. But while relying on long-distance industrial suppliers has always been risky, the worst case scenario for this approach became a reality during the pandemic.

The global economy nearly shut down for Continue reading

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August 6, 2021

Our complex, world-spanning system of global trade relies enormously on shipping containers, metal boxes that range from 20 to 40 feet long that transport nearly every product imaginable. But just like so many of the items that are usually packed into these receptacles, the pandemic has caused a shortage of shipping containers that is reverberating across global supply chains. Despite an upsurge in production of containers and rebounding consumer demand, many manufacturers are unable to prepare products for transportation due Continue reading

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July 30, 2021

Most people probably don’t think about how bunches of bananas make it from farms in Central America to store shelves in the U.S. That’s certainly not the case at Top Banana, a company that handles more than one million pounds of fruit every week. This long but fascinating video takes a look at how Top Banana ripens and ships an enormous amount of bananas through sophisticated logistical processes. 

Questions:

  1. Why does Top Banana constantly check to ensure that its Continue reading
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July 28, 2021

Yesterday, the CDC announced that vaccinated Americans should once again wear masks in indoor public places. This reversal of course from guidelines established just two months ago comes as the Delta variant spreads across the country. As a result, companies that intended to bring their employees back into the office in the coming months are now reconsidering their reopening plans. 

For instance, Apple hoped to bring staff back into its corporate offices by September but have now pushed that Continue reading

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July 21, 2021

Over the last month, communities across the Western United States have imposed restrictions on water use as a major drought wreaks havoc on the region. This video looks at how the drop in the supply of surface water has hurt California farmers and why their pain could soon ripple out across the country.

Questions:

  1. How has the drought in the Western U.S. affected farmers in the region? 
  2. Do you think regulators should place restrictions on the use of groundwater Continue reading
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