The US Patent and Trademark Office has granted Amazon a patent for a blockchain system that enables "verifiable tracking of an item through a supply chain," helping improve trust and ensure product authenticity, according to the filing. If implemented, the blockchain system would be available for manufacturers, couriers, distributors and consumers to track the flow of goods ordered via Amazon.
Amazon modified routes, pared down deliveries and called drivers back to hubs in Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities over the weekend due to the nationwide protests stemming from the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis. Protesters blocked numerous roadways, and drivers turned to social media to caution others about specific locations.
The US Postal Service has been hurt by staffing shortages and an influx of e-commerce orders from consumers staying at home, delaying deliveries by days or weeks. Data from ShipMatrix shows a 68.2% delivery rate for Priority Mail packages between April 19 and May 23, compared with 87.4% between March 1 and April 18.
In this interview, former USDA chief and Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns discusses the changes the coronavirus pandemic has caused for farmers and food processors, the potential long-term impacts and ways that government can help. He also points to the value of automation and says more of it is "absolutely inevitable."
Sysco West Coast Florida has adapted to the coronavirus pandemic by helping restaurant customers launch pop-up stores and tailor menus for takeout. The company is also selling groceries online and helping health care workers get supplies they need.
Office supply distributor W.B. Mason has shifted its business model to sell and deliver directly to customers at home, which CEO Leo Meehan says will continue even after offices reopen. "They're ordering janitorial products, snacks, coffee [and] obviously office supplies as well as masks, personal protective equipment, booties, shields for your face [and] acrylic space dividers," he says.
The Institute for Supply Management's index of US factory activity was 43.1 in May, still at contraction levels but up from April's 11-year low of 41.5. Other optimism could be found in ISM's sub-indexes for forward-looking new orders and factory order backlogs.
Alexandria Industries Chief Financial Officer Jon Olson suggests questions that can help assess supplier financial standing, including the diversity of the supplier's customer base, access to capital and whether the business has been deemed essential.
Organizations looking to reopen to the public are straining manufacturers' supply of protective barriers, face masks and hand sanitizer, and some deliveries may take months. Kimberly-Clark is returning to the protective mask market, while Lydall is operating 24 hours a day with more machines to meet demand for its filtering material that goes in face masks.
Parts shortages and coronavirus cases that continue to crop up are challenges for automakers that have resumed vehicle production. "You need to have the confluence of healthy workers, a healthy supply chain and healthy demand all at the same time," says Kristin Dziczek of the Center for Automotive Research.