I believe that the company at the end of the supply chain has the responsibility to internalize the costs of their business activities. To the extent that governments have failed to do this so far, it really has become a social issue where companies cast the deciding vote. Unfortunately, there is not very much impetus in the consumer market to force this sort of change.
Really, this issue is the reason that I choose to write my article on Tesla, given that they are positioning near the front of field in the use of these resources that are so difficult and dirty to mine- I truly believe there is an intersection between their responsibility and the responsibility of the cobalt miner, insofar as Tesla continues to espouse a “green” solution to our world’s problems- much as Toyota currently aides in operations throughout their supply chain in order to minimize costs, Tesla has a similar responsibility to minimize ecological costs along their supply chain.
I agree that we enter potentially muddy waters, but I would posit to you the following:
We are currently giving large tax credits for purchasing an electric vehicle. This means that the government is actively encouraging the purchase, ostensibly to lead consumers away from other alternatives. If the public is going to make this investment, then I believe that we should ensure that these companies internalize the current externalities, such as pollution required to create the product that we are encouraging the production of (by encouraging the consumption).
Also, Tesla is attempting to vertically integrate (battery manufacturing, lithium production) and are likely to rapidly become the largest user of the rare earths, which leads me to believe that they should bare some of the responsibility that they are produced in a responsible way. This is not unprecedented- such as DeBeers and blood diamonds in Africa.
I actually completely agree with you that an apples to apples comparison is necessary; indeed, it is the entire crux of my argument that an apples to apples comparison does not currently exist- and before we jump wholesale into massive infrastructure and manufacturing investments to change our current way of doing business, we NEED an apples to apples comparison to ensure that we aren’t making a massive mistake.
Also, I agree that the process will improve for withdrawing rare earths, but they will remain rare. Indeed, I cited instances where Tesla is attempting to invest in processes to increase yields of these materials.
That said, a Cat Dump truck burns a lot of fuel and as I noted in my paper, they run an awful lot just to yield small amounts of material. To the extent that more than one dump truck has to move to yield each car production, you are dealing with years worth of potential carbon savings for each material. In contrast to your opinion, I would not be surprised to learn that an electric car is grossly less “green” than current vehicles, insofar as the vehicles used in the production of batteries, in particular, are grossly inefficient. Maybe we’ll make them electric too though.
Having flown a Boeing aircraft for the past 6 years, I can tell you that the political connections with that company run much deeper than people realize from the surface. In fact, you probably could have written a supply chain management paper on this subject, since I am pretty sure that they manufacture components in nearly every congressional district.
I was actually surprised near the end of the article when you began to address political concerns surrounding losing the deal- in fact, I enjoyed a bit of an internal laugh when, in the middle of your article, I read that we carved out an exemption to very rigorous sanctions to allow for civil aviation exports. Indeed, as the Iranian government makes steps, particularly in Iraq and Syria, that are so counter to American interests abroad, I would have expected further sanctions or a hardening of the lines around the sanctions currently in place. The fact that the exception for Boeing and Airbus exists at all is really a strong statement of their political capabilities.
You could probably update the “McDonald’s” and “Dell” Theories of International Relations, both of which by and large state that wars between countries sharing economic connections, or a significant amount to lose from supply chain disruptions, are extremely unlikely to engage in armed conflict. In this case, countries willing to purchase roughly $30 billion in exports from large American and European manufacturers are unlikely to face sanctions precluding them from doing so.
As with the Apache Helicopter and other American military exports from the Boeing corporation (most recently the F35 being linked to Arab nation exports), the real money for Boeing lies in maintenance, parts, and tooling support. I wonder if the long term implications of this relationship will serve to loosen up some of the vitriol between the nations, as opposed to the vitriol killing a deal so clearly beneficial to the American worker.
This is an interesting article with a great embedded video to help explain block chains to people that do not understand them. What I think is the most interesting is the idea that you would be able to quickly and efficiently track a food/manufacturing issue down to the person that caused that issue, which would enable you to hold that person/entity accountable.
As we have seen in past TOM lessons, the ability to isolate the issue inside a manufacturing chain is critical to process optimization. In this case, you could cut out suppliers who fail to meet standards.
My concern would be if this really enables you to catch a perpetrator before the food issue has arisen- which is really to say, this still sounds like a “reactive” solution as opposed to a “proactive” solution. A proactive solution would identify an issue in the supply chain before the product went to market. While you can cut someone out who has failed in the past, they can always change the name of the entity or corporation and continue to produce inside someone else’s supply chain.
This is an interesting article because it is the first time that I have ever read a proposal for a Chinese company to off-shore its manufacturing to the United States. I wonder if the company could be successful here, given its lack of understanding of our regulatory framework, particularly since the company is charged with receiving state aid at home- I would expect the opposite of state aid upon arrival in the U.S.. Has the company faced sufficient pressures to make its processes leaner? Would the uptick in complexity of the supply chain erode any potential margin? Could you find a partner willing to do your manufacturing? If so, why would this company simply not manufacture the end product in its own name?
Moreover, I would be particularly concerned about regulatory framework insofar as it applies to public service projects, many of which already have odd policies underlying.
For the author, I think that there is interesting dialogue around whether or not the introduction of tariffs on these products constitutes protectionist behavior. As I look at the list of companies impacted by the decision, the company you chose appears to be the least targeted given a number of 152.5 applied to most of its Chinese competition. Is there denial that the state is subsidizing production?
This is an interesting article on an industry attempting to find a solution to what seems the inevitable circumstance that many of these water strapped areas eventually run out of fresh water. While I would be surprised to find that you could ever make fracking water potable again, at least they are out striking deals with other producers of water that is extremely difficult to make potable again (waste water plants).
In any case, I think that this is a somewhat rosy view of an industry that have serious concerns is creating an ecological disaster via fracking. The idea that we are injecting a chemical slurry cocktail into the ground to fracture rocks, while not contaminating the ground water supply, simply does not pass the sniff test, at least for me. It is also likely that I would maintain this stance regardless of any evidence collected by even the purest of investigators and essentially zero chance that I will ever believe research funded by these companies.
I’m not educated enough on the problem set to have a definitive view in either direction, but the assertion that brick and mortar stores have less data available than online retailers seems as though it doesn’t necessarily have to be true. Particularly in the case of Walmart, a store that must have invested in a strong point of sale system that allows it to collect all manner of data about its customers- grocery stores with rewards programs should have a similar capability.
I am interested in fact that there is now a reasonably sized competitor to Amazon- even if they lag behind Alexa in terms of home occupancy. The last piece of the equation, in my mind at least, is Walmart figuring out the last mile of movement to the end customer. As more and more Amazon branded drivers arrive at my home, I wonder if it is too late for a legitimate challenge to Amazon’s e-market hegemony.
This seems like an fairly simple way of solving the problems associated with theft of containers. Operating in Iraq and Afghanistan, convoy attacks and container theft were a fairly regular occurrence, particularly in the more lawless/remote regions of the country- as I am sure is the case to a lesser degree across relatively unoccupied portions of Africa.
I have two primary questions
1) What are they going to do about it when they find out that a container was stolen? Will they be able to track it to the end location? Or are thieves smart enough to remove the tag? While I am used to seeing entire villages composed of stolen shipping containers in Afghanistan, I am guessing that this is not the case in Africa.
2) This seems as though this would solve the “worst case” that entire container is stolen, but what we experienced much more often is that the locks were popped at an overnight stop and most of the contents stolen. Is it economical to tag the internal cargo?