August 2016 Archive

August 31, 2016
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.

August 30, 2016
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.

August 22, 2016
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.

August 17, 2016
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.