Struggling Toys ‘R’ Us Tries Fuller Stores (WSJ)
More than a decade after Toys “R” Us Inc. was acquired in a leveraged buyout, the retailer is still struggling with a chronic problem: running out of goods during the important holiday season. To tackle the issue, Chief Executive David Brandon, who took the helm in July, asked engineers to design an algorithm to better predict when goods will run low. He also is filling shelves with more products—a move that is counter to the get-lean mind-set of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other retailers.
Automakers in Chennai face logistics nightmare
Automobile manufacturers in and around Chennai have suffered heavy losses due to the floods. While most of the original equipment manufacturers have restored operations, many are facing challenges since supply chains have not been fully restored. Logistics, due to road conditions, continues to pose a challenge.
The Creed of Speed (Economist)
There is an impression that the pace of business is speeding up, which is not supported by the data. However, firms still need to pay new attention to time as they can be seen as time transformers, mediating the different time horizons of customers, staff, suppliers and owners. Mastering the clock of business is about choosing when to be fast and when to be slow.
Amazon Buys Own Truck Trailers for Warehouse to Warehouse
Amazon has purchased thousands of trailers to make sure it had the shipping capacity to move products on time as its North American business continues its rapid growth. The trailers will be utilized to transport items from one Amazon fulfillment center to another as well as between fulfillment centers and sort centers, where Amazon organizes orders by zip code to be delivered to local post offices. It will continue to rely on existing trucking partners, which own and drive the tractor portion of the vehicles that will tow the Amazon trailers.
Wal-Mart Revamps E-Commerce Technology as Amazon Applies Pressure (WSJ)
A massive overhaul project begun in 2012 and named Pangaea, for the prehistoric supercontinent that broke apart to rearrange world geography. For Jeremy King, the diehard engineer who is chief technology officer of Wal-Mart’s global e-commerce operation, Pangaea was a chance to rearrange the world’s biggest company. Mr. King’s team has remade everything from how Wal-Mart’s website works and looks to underlying transaction software, databases and servers, and the backend data center tools to manage it all. Wal-Mart built new cloud infrastructure and data centers and wrote its own search engine in its all-out effort to develop the technological wherewithal to compete with Amazon.
Unilever Finds That Shrinking Its Footprint Is a Giant Task (NYT)
Unilever’s sustainable living plan pledges to cut the company’s environmental impact in half by 2020, it also vows to improve the health of one billion people and enhance livelihoods for millions, all while doubling its sales. None of this is easy to achieve. In broad terms, sustainability means meeting the needs of today while preserving resources for tomorrow. But selling more products means consuming more energy and more natural resources. However, Unilever’s factories are emitting 37 percent less emissions than in 2008, even while producing more goods. Waste going to landfills is down 85 percent. At the same time revenue is up 22 percent, though profits are up less.
The Shape of ‘Things’ to Come (Inbound Logistics)
As sensors, communications systems, and analytics solutions all become cheaper, faster, and more capable, many more things will start talking to one another via the Internet. Supply chain operations are already part of that exchange.
TPP intends to spark a boom in trade in services, but it will take time
TPP is about opening up trade for services industries so that one day they may be as efficient and as globally integrated as manufacturing is today. TPP is a step toward that ideal, but just one of many that are needed. This process was slow for manufacturing as many pieces had to fall in place. For most of industrial history, countries traded raw materials or finished goods, with the process of turning the one into the other located entirely within a single country, and often within a single factory. From the 1980s, however, a large and rapidly growing share of trade consisted of “intermediate goods”. Rather than produce a computer from scratch in one country, for example, a tech firm would source components from several different countries, bring them together in yet another country for assembly, and then ship the completed good to consumers around the world. The great supply-chain revolution was slow in coming, however. Tariff rates fell precipitously from the 1940s to the 1980s, by which time the duties imposed on most goods traded between rich economies had fallen to negligible levels. The shift to container shipping, which made transit by sea much faster and more reliable, was largely over by the early 1980s. From 1950 to 1985 the cost of a long-distance phone call dropped dramatically. Yet it was not until the 1990s that the supply-chain boom really got going, abetted in part by China’s economic opening.