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.
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%.