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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Sept. 30, 2021

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Sept. 30, 2021

Amazon Winning the DC Labor War; Oil Prices Headed Still Higher; Exosuit Maker Raises Big Money; Container Delays in SoCal Ports get Still Worse



That is how many workers Amazon has added since the pandemic in a labor constrained market, most of them for fulfillment center jobs, as it is winning the labor wars, according to a blog post on the Motley web site this week. And why is that? The primary factor is the level of compensation, the article says, noting Amazon has made several upgrades to its total compensation package, starting a few years back with a $15 minimum wage, and raising the ante from there. Its benefits also start on day 1 of employment. Recent Amazon moves included paying for workers' college tuition (something Walmart and Target already had put in place), higher hourly wages, sign-on bonuses, and more. In September Amazon announced it was looking to hire 125,000 more employees in the US at an average starting pay of $18 per hour, reaching as high as $22.50 per hour in some markets. In addition, Amazon offers sign-on bonuses of as much as $3,000 in some FCs.

 $260 Million

That’s how much Sarcos Technology and Robotics Corp. raised in a public offering this week, cash the company says will enable it to deliver its “exosuits” to market by the end of 2022. What is an exosuit? Well if you are thinking Marvell’s Iron Man, you are not too far off. Loaded with sensors, they provide a mechanical assist for various tasks such as lifting – potentially making it a lot easier, for example, to pick and place heavy cartons on to pallets in a distribution center. Sarcos says that most warehouses handle small and medium-sized packages with material handling equipment such as lift trucks, tugs, sorters, pick arms, conveyors, autonomous mobile robots (AMR), and humans. But Sarcos says that approach ignores the need to manage bulky, less-than-pallet-load, and non-conveyable items, such as refrigerators, furniture, and basketball backboards. The firm says its products combine the judgment and physical flexibility of human warehouse workers with the power of robotics that enables them to lift goods of up to 200 pounds.




That is the estimate this week for how many containers were in ships waiting off the Southern California coast for a berth at either the port of Los Angeles or the nearby port of Long Beach. According to the Los Angeles Times, local truckers say the driver shortage is not the problem, and that instead, the ports needs to speed up cycle times and have more dock help ready to offload. Some blame outdated infrastructure, importers with nowhere to store the containers, and dock help not keeping up with demand. “Last night I was there from eight o’clock to three in the morning. They kicked me out because they leave at three o’clock,” said driver Oscar Ovalle. “There’s one crane for 60 trucks and it’s ridiculous! They have two other cranes sitting.” Meanwhile Gene Seroka, the Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles, is calling for more federal investment in the SoCal ports, saying there has been an underinvestment versus other ports over the past decade, leading to the current chaos.




That is the new estimate for the price of a barrel of oil (Brent Crude) by the end of year, according to analysts at Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs this week. That’s up from a previous estimate of $80 per barrel previously. Such a move in price would obviously hit most consumers in the wallet – and stoke more fears about prolonged inflation. If Goldman Sachs is correct, it would be the first time Brent Crude hit $90 since 2014. "While we have long held a bullish oil view," Goldman Sachs said in a research note to clients, "the current global oil supply-demand deficit is larger than we expected,” driving prices much higher. A key factor - the pandemic forced US oil companies and OPEC to dramatically cut production in 2020 - and much of that supply remains offline.

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