Great post! Its been unfortunate to see the degree these tariffs have hurt industries, particularly the solar energy industry which is so important for the future. Instead of focusing on innovation and operational improvements, companies like SunPower are forced to instead spend money on lobbying the government. Additionally, it seems for the most part companies end up finding creative ways around tariffs by shifting production to other plants or making small changes to the imported part such that it no longer violates tariffs. Given the pressing need for more sustainable energy solutions its sad to see solar companies thwarted due to this regulation.
Great post and interesting to learn how Monsanto is investing in and using machine learning to weather. The company seems it be preparing for climate change in a number of ways. First by creating seeds that are more resistant to harsher climates and now to making decisions around when and how much to plan based on big data analytic forecasts of weather. In the future, companies like Monsanto or farmers in general may consider using technology that enables them to manipulate the weather. Although quite effective, this technology as it works today, tends to be very bad for the environment. I wonder if Monsanto has anything in its R&D pipeline to manipulate weather for the agriculture business.
Great post! Your question around how Amazon should consider the human displacement impact as it automates more of its warehouse functions was particularly interesting to me. In the past towns have offered Amazon significant tax incentives for setting up warehouses in their area, with the thinking that their town would benefit from increase employment. As these jobs disappear with more automation I imagine some of these towns will feel cheated by Amazon and in the future towns will be less willing to offer these types of benefits. An alternative to explore would be to design an incentive system for companies to not only bring warehouse management jobs that work in conjunction with robots but also bring jobs to design, maintain and develop the robotic systems in the same town. This will spur a new kinds of economy and bring additional investment from other parts of the value chain the robotics industry.
Great post and interesting to learn what Primark is doing to address sustainability issues in its supply chain. Given fast-fashion retailers like H&M, Primark, and Zara are under pressure to get products to market quickly and inexpensively to consumers, these companies have tended to be the worst in terms of ensuring products are being made in a sustain way. It is becoming more common for these stores to set up a task force to address sustainability issues, buts its often difficult to integrate new ideas into business processes and enact real change. One change H&M has made is to allow encourage customers to bring old clothes to the store where H&M then handles the recycling. I wonder if the industry could consolidate an only work with distributors and suppliers who maintain high quality standards when it comes to sustainability. Companies in the fishing industry and diamond industry have been somewhat successful in doing so.
Great post and something relevant to really any industry that relies on a low-income workforce. Small businesses that rely on low-income workforce to operate are significantly hurt by these more stringent regulations. Advocates of these policies argue that this leads to higher employment of American workers and higher wages. However, there is very little evidence that this is the case and in reality, immigration tends to be a positive for countries and it helps businesses grow as well as improves the overall economy with more labor and spending. I’d be interested to study how towns which had a high percentage of illegal immigrants have been impacted by the changing regulation. My initial thinking is that it would not have helped employment of American workers and could have resulted in higher prices for consumers and hurt economic activity for businesses.
Great post and interesting to learn how companies are leveraging technology to speed up and customize design as well as the production process. It seems like Speedfactories are more of a job-shop model while the factories in Asia are potentially a mix of Job-shop with some parts manufactured in an assembly line. I’d be curious to know if there are any learnings and capabilities that Adidas can take from Speedfactories and apply it to their large scale manufacturing processes in Asia. Also what are product lines can this method be applied to?