Friday in 5 – interesting news bits from around the supply chain horn, served up in one spot to keep you up to date. This quick roundup of industry news includes a look at the skills gap in manufacturing, how small businesses are benefiting from a newer generation of robots, the development of an autonomous ship, as well as how some retailers are tackling e-commerce.  

Skills Gap Still an Issue for Manufacturers

Andrew Soergel’s U.S. News & World Report article, Manufacturing Hiring Surges, but Skills Gap Sows Vacancies, looks into the latest data on job openings and labor turnover from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The bureau’s report emphasizes the recent high demand for industrial work, but also points to the 394,000 manufacturing jobs that still haven’t been filled. The article discusses whether a mismatch in skills is a factor in why there continues to be a shortage of qualified workers for increasingly available positions in the manufacturing sector.

Get Ready for the Invasion of the Robots

In Cheap Robots Are Helping Small Businesses Survive, Thomas Black reports on how robots have made their way into some of the smallest factories, thanks to new technological advances. The Bloomberg Technology article examines the potential impacts this new generation of smaller, cheaper and easily programmable robot models will have on the manufacturing sector, especially small and medium-sized businesses.

Autonomous Ships to Set Sail   

Norwegian chemicals group Yara, as reported by Joon Ian Wong for Quartz, recently announced that it is building a battery-powered ship, which will be capable of fully autonomous travel by 2020. The article, A self-driving electric ship will replace thousands of truck trips at a Norwegian fertilizer firm, examines the benefits of autonomous ships, as well as how other companies are developing self-driving vehicles for use in their global cargo supply chains.

The Secrets to Home Depot’s Success

While many large and well-known retailers are struggling these days, there are a few companies bucking that trend. Michael E. Kanell’s article, How Home Depot is winning while retail loses, on explores the reasons behind the Atlanta-based retailer’s post-recession success. The article looks at how factors such as a halt on new-store openings, more effective sales tactics, and the availability of click-and-collect services have influenced Home Depot’s nearly 43 percent rise in revenue over the past seven years.

Your Target Run Will Soon Have an Online Counterpart 

According to Kavita Kumar’s StarTribune article, Target Restock bringing household supplies to a doorstep near you, Target Corp. will start testing a new online shopping service for everyday household staples, possibly as soon as next month. The article examines details of the Target Restock program, as well as looks at the online sales tactics used by some of the retailer’s competitors.