Artificial Intelligence Swarms Silicon Valley on Wings and Wheels (NYT)

The new era in Silicon Valley centers on artificial intelligence and robots, a transformation that many believe will have a payoff on the scale of the personal computing industry or the commercial internet, two previous generations that spread computing globally. Computers have begun to speak, listen and see, as well as sprout legs, wings and wheels to move unfettered in the world. The shift was evident in a Lowe’s home improvement store here this month, when a prototype inventory checker developed by Bossa Nova Robotics silently glided through the aisles using computer vision to automatically perform a task that humans have done manually for centuries.

Walmart Wants to Apply Blockchain to Other Products Beyond Pork

Trying to make pork products in China safer was just the first step of Walmart’s global plans for blockchain. The pilot unveiled last week uses technology from the Hyperledger project to track pork shipping information, including farm origination details, batch numbers and storage temperatures on a secure blockchain. Over the months ahead, the retail giant wants to expand on that work.

Amazon’s Newest Ambition: Competing Directly With UPS and FedEx (WSJ)

To constrain rising shipping costs, the online retailer is building its own delivery operation.

SenseAware is FedEx’s IoT sensor-based logistics solution.

SenseAware is a multisensor device that monitors critical shipments – in near real-time – from when they are packed and picked up to the time they’re delivered and beyond. Typically placed inside packages, pallets, trailers and warehouses, the device collects data from items and transmits that data via wireless communication to an online application for monitoring and analysis.

Fast-Fashion Tricks Are on Display at Department-Store Chains (WSJ)

Lord & Taylor identifies top sellers, uses quick-turnaround methods from Xcel Brands to deliver goods to shoppers.

This is the first Adidas shoe made almost entirely by robots

Adidas’ robotic shoe manufacturing plant in Germany is now up and running. The athletic footwear giant shared its first shoe made almost entirely by robots late last week, building on the company’s long-term plan to add robot-staffed, custom shoemaking factories, dubbed Speed Factories, to its global supply chain.

Blockchain Makes Inroads in Shipping (WSJ)

Marine Transport International Ltd., a U.K.-based freight forwarder, has started using blockchain to create real-time digital ledgers of shipping data for use by port officials, cargo owners and others along global supply chains, the company said Thursday.

Five Technologies That Will Self-Orchestrate The Supply Chain (Forbes)

The supply chain of tomorrow will be leaner, faster and most importantly, self-orchestrated. This unprecedented pace of change will be driven by a few radical technologies that will be cautiously adopted by industry participants over the next 15 years. Here is a view of the top five Frost & Sullivan has identified from its comprehensive analysis on the Future of Logistics.

How to Transform Your Company into A Data-Driven Enterprise

In a recent study from Accenture, 97 percent of the senior executives surveyed see great value in creating a data-centric culture, yet only 17 percent had actually gone on to implement a big data strategy in their business. David Simchi-Levi examines this incongruity and reveals how business leaders can transform their company into a data-driven enterprise.

Inside McDonald’s Bold Decision to Go Cage Free (Fortune)

The era of mass-produced and processed food that McDonald’s helped create and came to embody is falling out of favor fast, especially with coveted millennial consumers. Industrial food was once viewed as safe and therefore better. Today wellness has moved from calories, carbs, and salt to ‘Where did the food come from?’ The terms that are important now are ‘antibiotic- and hormone-free,’ ‘natural,’ and ‘organic.’ ”

Fire at Gap New York Distribution Center Slows Online Orders (WSJ)

Gap Inc.’s turnaround efforts hit a glitch this week as a fire at one of the retailer’s largest distribution centers set back the company’s ability to fulfill online orders heading into the holiday season. On Monday, a fire burned through a company warehouse in Fishkill, N.Y. The building supplies Gap and Banana Republic merchandise to online and store customers primarily in the Northeast and represents about 10% of the company’s nationwide warehouse capacity.

Cloud Chronicles : Linux and AWS (Economist)

How open-source software and cloud computing have set up the IT industry for a once-in-a-generation battle

Cracks in the surface (Economist)

THE cement industry is one of the world’s most polluting: it accounts for 5% of man-made carbon-dioxide emissions each year. About 4.3 billion tonnes of cement were consumed in 2014—China alone needed more than half of that. It also produces 60% of the stuff, followed at a distance by India and America. The industry brings in about $250 billion a year. Cement firms have not attracted the ire of environmental campaigners in the way that oil firms have. But that could change if they shirk efforts to cut emissions in a manner consistent with keeping the world less than 2°C warmer than it was in pre-industrial times. For now, few cement companies are setting environmental targets that are tough enough.

Apple’s little-known (and somewhat unsexy) secret to success (recode)

Over the years, I have talked with various ODM and manufacturing equipment makers, and many have told me Apple’s real secret to success is how deep the company goes into the overall manufacturing process. Very few companies go to that level of detail when it comes to their supply chain. Besides Intel, Apple is one of the only other major tech companies I know of that will actually invent the manufacturing equipment needed to bring a new product to market. Most others accept the limitations of the equipment, and instead design the product around the things these machines can do with as little customization as possible.

G.E., the 124-Year-Old Software Start-Up (NYT)

Concerned about disrupters with no assets and tech companies to take their internet connectivity expertise and try to apply it to industrial businesses, G.E. reimagined Predix as a cloud-based operating system for industrial applications.
The basic idea is that G.E. and outside software developers will write programs to run on Predix. This software might, for instance, monitor the health and fine-tune the operation of equipment like oil-field rigs and wind-farm turbines, improving performance, reducing wear and adapting to changing environmental conditions.

Nike Forms Supply-Chain Pact With Apollo (WSJ)

Under the alliance, a new apparel supply chain company has purchased existing Nike apparel suppliers in North and Central America and will buy more to “create a more vertically integrated apparel ecosystem.

China’s Factories Count on Robots as Workforce Shrinks (WSJ)

China’s population of workers aged 15 to 59 is starting to shrink – the number of the country’s workers peaked in 2010 at more than 900 million and will fall below 800 million by 2050. The average hourly labor cost of $14.60 in China’s coastal manufacturing heartland has more than doubled as a percentage of U.S. manufacturing wages, from roughly 30% in 2000 to 64% in 2015. China, in 2013, became the world’s largest market for industrial robots, surpassing all of Western Europe. In 2015, Chinese manufacturers bought roughly 67,000 robots, about a quarter of global sales, and demand is projected to more than double to 150,000 robots annually by 2018.