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.

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.

Startups Try to Put Remote E-Commerce Customers on the Map (WSJ)

Firms like what3words, Fetchr and OkHi try to link sellers to the many customers who have no address.

IBM Moves Blockchain to the Supply Chain Realm (WSJ blog)

IBM’s launch of a blockchain cloud platform for supply chain applications pushes the distributed online ledger technology beyond the financial services industry, where the technology is used by banks and exchanges to track financial transactions. Startup Everledger, which helps companies track the provenance of diamonds worldwide, is testing IBM Blockchain.

GM Risk as a Result of Supplier’s Bankruptcy (WSJ)

Clark-Cutler-McDermott (CCM) produced 175 parts for GM and is the Detroit auto maker’s only supplier of certain interior and acoustic insulation parts. The 115-year-old company has been a General Motors “Supplier of the Year” four times in the last seven years, but has absorbed losses of $12 million since 2013. The company filed for bankruptcy protection on July 7, saying it was losing $30,000 a day as a result of its contract with GM. GM said supply disruptions caused by CCM’s bankruptcy and refusal to deliver parts and finished inventory threatened to cause disruptions at 19 GM assembly plants in North America and cost it tens of millions of dollars.

Top 20 software suppliers (MMH)

The story for the 2015 market for supply chain management (SCM) software, maintenance and services is a tale of two currencies. Measured in current currency—that is a comparison of results based on currency values for 2014 and 2015—the market grew by about 2.8% to $10.145 billion. That total includes applications for supply chain execution (SCE) (+3.4%), supply chain planning (SCP) (+3%) and, for the third year in a row, procurement software (+1.9%), which is increasingly integrated with supply chain management. Growth is growth in a tough economy, but 2.8% is not much more than last year’s yield on a 10-year treasury note. If you look at the market in constant currency, you get a different story. Now, that $10.145 billion translates into an 11% gain, or the equivalent of a pretty good growth stock. Individually, SCE grew by 11%, SCP grew by 11.3% and procurement grew by 10.8%.

Airplane Makers Automate to Meet Surging Demand(WSJ)

Boeing and Airbus last year built a combined 1,352 jetliners. According to their production plans, the two intend to build 33% more each year by 2020, or around 1,800 planes, rivaling the burst of large-aircraft production last seen in World War II. The world’s biggest plane makers are digging deep into the technology toolbox using robots, drones and exoskeletons to deliver what they have promised as well as cut costs.

Gap Inc takes to cloud to optimize clothing price

Clothing retailer Gap Inc is localizing the way it prices inventory in its network of retail stores using a cloud-based optimization system.

Amazon Is Quietly Eliminating List Prices (NYT)

The retailer built a reputation and hit $100 billion in annual revenue by offering deals. The first thing a potential customer saw was a bargain: how much an item was reduced from its list price. Now, in many cases, Amazon has dropped any mention of a list price. There is just one price. Take it or leave it.

Retailers Rethink Inventory Strategies (WSJ)

Retailers including Home Depot, Target and Walmart are cutting their in-store inventory because of the high cost and their financial challenges. Any reduction in the level of capital tied up in unsold goods frees up resources to invest elsewhere, such as building out online operations or covering wage increases. But destocking isn’t without risk. Bare shelves are a major annoyance to shoppers who take the time to go into stores to shop.

The New Panama Canal: A Risky Bet (NYT)

For more than 100 years, the canal has been a vital artery nourishing the world economy, a testament to American engineering and one of the signature public works of the 20th century. The new locks, built by Panama without help from other governments, were sold to the nation and the world as a way to ensure that the canal remained as much of a lifeline in the hyperglobalized 21st century as it was in the last.

Gap Inc takes to cloud to optimise clothing price

Clothing retailer Gap Inc is localising the way it prices inventory in its network of retail stores using a cloud-based optimisation system.

Fashion Company Desigual’s Multi-Stranded Approach to Omni-Channel

Omni-channel customers buy and return goods online or via physical stores, and expect excellent service regardless of how they receive their purchases, meeting these expectations requires inventory to be visible and available globally.

Wal-Mart and P&G: A $10 Billion Marriage Under Strain (WSJ)

As both companies face stalling growth, the big-box retailer challenges the consumer-products giant with more store brands, lower prices and less shelf space

How to Revitalize U.S. Manufacturing (WSJ)

Nine policies that could spark new growth in factory jobs and the economic benefits they bring

An Operating System for Global Trade (TechCrunch)

Transparency begets data, which begets efficiency. Smarter shipping shrinks the physical world the way faster internet shrinks the digital one. New businesses emerge. High bandwidth connections paved the way for Netflix. Now Flexport could make meatspace merchants as nimble as Amazon.