The story that dominated many of the discussions I shared in March was around the supply chain disruption caused by semiconductor shortages. It was novel for the disruption to not be directly related to the pandemic, but it isn’t a novelty to be talking about disruptions in the supply chain. In 2019 it was all about tariffs and trade wars, in 2020 it was, of course, the pandemic and this year we have a new disruption that seems set to last most of the year. Afterall, you can’t stand up a new semiconductor facility overnight.
What all of these disruptions have shone a spotlight upon is the need for supply chain security, the need for resilience and the need for agility. The technology industry has done exceptionally well through the pandemic, particularly high tech, but industries like EV (Electric Vehicles), space, avionics and even sustainable energy solutions are all at risk if the supply chain is not secure. Many, including governments, believe that supply chains need to be secured and in some cases onshored for many critical parts, components and materials, right back to raw materials like lithium for electric-car-batteries, titanium, silicon, and rare earth elements.
- According to the Wall Street Journal, “Biden Orders Broad Supply-Chain Review Amid Chip Shortages”. The president signed an executive order with the aim of eventually increasing domestic production of critical materials — from semiconductors to pharmaceuticals and rare-earth minerals — with the aim of spurring domestic production while strengthening ties with allies.
- Also in the WSJ, this time Scott Patterson and Amrith Ramkumar “America’s Battery-Powered Car Hopes Ride on Lithium. One Producer Paves the Way.” The U.S. is racing to catch up to China in mining and refining the metal, and Piedmont Lithium is at the leading edge.
- The topic of shortages also featured front and center on the last two editions of the Eric Miscoll Show. In episode 3, an update from China, Carl Hung, CEO of Season Group, an EMS with facilities in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mexico and UK, and Mark Rinehart, Founder of White Horse Laboratories offered their own insight. And in episode 4, EMS in the USA, David Longshore of Creation Technologies and Rob Crawford of Benchmark added their thoughts.
- In WIRED Magazine, Will Knight says, “Intel Wants to Revive US Chipmaking—but It Has to Catch Up First.” The semiconductor giant announced plans to open its factories to others, but it will send some of its most advanced designs to be made in Taiwan.
- One person keeping a close eye on this is Willy Shih, Harvard Business School professor and senior contributor to Forbes, who most recently wrote, “Under The Hood Of Intel’s New Foundry Strategy” and “It Might Take A Long Time For The U.S. To Become Self-Sufficient In Rare Earth Materials”, offering some great insight and data.
- There are two other go-to Forbes contributors who never let me down. Bright Machines CEO, Amar Hanspal, was my guest on EMS@C-Level in January and most recently asked, “Is Your Automation Automated? How Software Is Opening The Door For Increased Innovation In Manufacturing”.
- And SCOOP’s newest senior partner and former GE chief economist, Marco Annunziata, worte, “How PCH International Is Helping Companies Reinvent Their Supply Chains” in Forbes, adding “If there is a company that seems custom-built to encompass and leverage the key technology-driven changes in our economy, it’s PCH International. It’s a product development and manufacturing company that supports its customers through engineering, manufacturing, supply chain management, packaging, fulfillment and distribution.”
- The aforementioned PCH International has written a white paper, entitled “Direct-to-Consumer Success Requires Rethinking Your Supply Chain”. It is well worth downloading and reading.
- And lastly bringing us right up to date, here are “Three heated and funny moments from Big Tech’s Congressional grilling today” from Fortune’s Danielle Abril. Frustrated about years of misinformation and extremism on social media, legislators bombarded the CEOs of Facebook, Alphabet, and Twitter with criticism and pointed questions on Thursday. The executives defended themselves, as they have in previous Congressional hearings, by citing their work to combat hate speech and COVID-19 falsehoods. But this time, several House members pushed back and attacked them for failing to police their sites and prevent real-world harm.
- This supply chain story is going to roll on and on. On April 7th at 2pm Pacific it will be central to the next edition of The Eric Miscoll Show – Material Supply Chain Update with Don Akery of TTI and Dale Ford of the ECIA. I can’t wait for the next edition of the Dan and Dale show.
And that’s the SCOOP for this month, more soon!