drone pilot industry11 ways companies, government tackling supply crisis

October 16, 2021by helo-10

Ports are in turmoil, the biggest retail season of the year looms near, and companies can’t get enough workers, trucks, fuel or the products they need and customers want.

As the Covid-19 crisis continues across North America and around the world, supply chains are so tangled that businesses are seeking innovative ways to improve their bottom lines and keep Covid-weary customers happy.

Small businesses hurting

“The fourth quarter is underway, but it’s going to be a rocky one,” according to a report this week by the National Federation of Independent Business. The report indicates small businesses are hurting, with about two-thirds of companies reported feeling moderate to significant impacts from supply chain issues and inflation.

A report by Salesforce about the coming shopping season estimated the cost of goods for retailers in the US will skyrocket by more than $223bn (£162.24) this holiday season compared to a year ago, in large part due to a jump in the cost of manufacturing, labor and freight.

Consumers to spend more over holidays

And Americans are in the mood to shop, a September survey by installment load provider Affirm indicated.

Just under 50% of respondents to the survey said they plan to spend more money this year to make up for the Covid-impacted holidays last year. But that will come at a price – consumer prices rose 5.4% in September from a year ago – the largest hike in 13 years, according to the US Labor Department.

The supply chain crisis has led retailers to find innovative ways to get products into shoppers’ hands.


1. Walmart and Target are hiring their own cargo ships or shipping containers to expedite delivery and stay clear of backed-up ports. “Chartering vessels is just one example of investments we’ve made to move products as quickly as possible,” Joe Metzger, U.S. executive vice president of supply-chain operations, told Reuters.

2. These and other retail giants, including Target, UPS, Amazon, are boosting the minimum wage or hiring en masse to find and keep staff. WalMart is hiring 20,000 supply-chain employees, such as freight handlers and lift drivers.

3. Drone manufacturer Manna Aero, meanwhile, is offering zero-emission drone delivery in Ireland to restaurant chains to shorten wait times, and Costco has brought back limits on toilet paper and bottled water as its supplies dwindle.


4. EV automaker Tesla announced it will start manufacturing its own chips to address the supply shortage that has plagued the automotive industry. And self-driving startup Aurora is joining forces with delivery giant FedEx and truck manufacturer PACCAR to pilot driverless-capable trucks. 


5. The state of Iowa Friday launched a Butchery Innovation and Revitalization program to strengthen Iowa’s food supply chain and rural development. Grants of up to $50,000 will be given to eligible businesses of a total pool of $750,000. Gov. Kim Reynolds said the funds will help small-scale meat processors expand capacity and alleviate supply disruptions.

6. In the UK, Christmas turkey production has sunk 20% due to staff shortages, according to the British Poultry Council. Producers say temporary visa extensions for foreign workers may have come too late to ensure enough supply.

7. The Turkey Farmers of Canada, meanwhile, said there will be a shortage of fresh turkeys below 20 pounds (9kg) this year. Smaller holiday gatherings due to Covid will mean a lot of leftovers to repurpose.


8. The US White House this week announced that several key ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, will begin moving toward 24/7 operations. The ports account for about 40% of the shipping volume entering the US. However, the labor shortage is still unresolved.

9. US president Joe Biden has established a Supply Chain Disruption Task Force to monitor and address supply issues, which are expected to return to normal levels in the spring of 2022.

10.  Thailand’s Ministry of Transport said it will open a national shipping line next year to reduce reliance on foreign ships, as well as to promote exports and imports.

11. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said this week that Canadians need to be realistic about the challenges of restarting the global economy and curbing the supply chain problems. She told reporters during meetings at Washington, DC., that Ottawa is watching for bottlenecks at Canadian ports.

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