subscribe: Posts | Comments | Email

Report Indicating the Assembly of the First iPhone in India

0 comments

In late January, we alerted our Supply Chain Matters readers to a report indicating that global smartphone and consumer electronics provider Apple was nearing a deal to manufacture its products locally in India. In March, we updated readers to a report from The Wall Street Journal that production could begin in a matter of 4-6 weeksiPhone 6 und 6 Plus 324 267 300x253 Report Indicating the Assembly of the First iPhone in India

The WSJ reports today that initial trail-run pilot production of the Apple iPhone SE model has now begun in Bangalore. (Paid subscription required) with devices scheduled to ship to customers across India this month.

Taiwanese contract manufacturing services provider Wistron is reportedly managing local manufacturing of iPhone6 and 6S smartphones from an existing production facility located in Bangalore, and longer-term plans include a production facility to be in the southern state of Karnataka. The report cites market research data indicating the smartphone ships across India grew 18 percent annually compared to 3 percent globally, thus making the country a very attractive growth market.

According to the latest report, domestic pricing for the iPhone SE still remains unclear, with speculation that Apple would want to maintain its gross margins.  Government officials in India are apparently pressuring for a lower domestic price.

The report again notes that the government of India is very supportive of an Apple manufacturing presence in the country, noting that it represents a sense of great pride for its citizens. Officials in the state of Karnataka are reported as eagerly cooperating to ensure that the future domestic manufacturing site means Apple’s needs.

We view Apple’s manufacturing strategy concerning India to be quite savvy, one that when completed, can provide a lot of market and supply chain benefits down the road. The key however, as always, will be Apple’s pricing and distribution strategy for smartphones managed in this country.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.


Describing an Exponential Organizational and Supply Chain Capability

0 comments

In February, this supply chain industry analyst attended the Oracle Modern Supply Chain Experience Conference held in San Jose California.  Through Supply Chain Matters, I have shared several prior observations and takeaways from this conference. We noted the extraordinary attendance, upwards of 2800 attendees at a supply chain management information technology focused conference. We further highlighted the momentum of Cloud-based technology deployments in the many different business process areas that today come under the umbrella of supply chain management along with the building interest levels surrounding Internet of Things (IoT) technology being applied to future supply chain management processes.

There was one keynote that I initially did not share in prior conference highlights, principally because I needed time to absorb the many compelling messages that were delivered. The title was Exponential Organizations and the presenter was Yuri van Geest, Co-Founder of Singularity University. Yuri Exponential Organizations sized 207x300 Describing an Exponential Organizational and Supply Chain Capabilityhas a background in organizational design and is noted as a keen observer of exponential technologies and trends.  He is a co-author of the book- Exponential Organizations- Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it).

The keynote opened with van Geest recounting the dizzying exponential developments that have occurred in artificial intelligence, alternative energy, biotechnology and medicine, robotics, additive manufacturing, sensors, and drones. His primary message was that most of these exponential technology developments will eventually impact supply chains and the organizations and people that makeup this community. His takeaway message was that the best vision of the future is happening at the peripherals of such technology development.

My initial presumption was that many of the conference attendees would have a difficult time absorbing the stark nature of the messages or would dismiss this talk as that of a technology genius speaking far above an ability to absorb the real implications.  Frankly, the conference organizers should have allowed additional time to accommodate all the content as well as to allow for further audience interaction.

Since the conference, I have had the opportunity to read the book and revisit my notes from the keynote. My goal in this blog is help distill what I perceive to be some other key takeaway messages related to future supply chain management organizational purpose, design, and work activities, at least from my perspective after having time to really absorb the content.

Geest did a suberb job of translating today’s far more exponential technology trends to what he viewed as direct impacts on industry supply chains. As an example, he stated that over the next ten years, the exponential developments in 3D printing capabilities will foster the ability to print nearly everything in materials including molecular assembly. The implication is the ability for products to be produced within primary areas of consumption, with the model of contract manufacturing being one of virtual capabilities to receive electronic design information and print on-demand products. A further implication is a more localized supply chain or regional network.

The notions of machine learning or cognitive acquired deep learning technology capabilities will at some point in the future lead to autonomous supply chain planning and customer fulfillment, where algorithms and physical sensing manage supply chain needs. While on the subject of planning, the book declares traditional five-year planning as obsolete, and that in exponential organizations, there should never be more than a one-year planning cycle supplemented by continuous just-in-time learning and events.

Regarding the physical, Geest further spoke to the compelling impacts that IoT focused developments would have on supply chains.  In the book, there is a passage that is worth sharing:

In the same way that today we can no longer handle the complexities of air traffic control or supply chain management without algorithms, almost all the business insights and decisions of tomorrow will be data-driven.”

Obviously, the messages are profound and perhaps threatening to many. None the less, van Geest’s message is that we cannot ignore compelling events and individually, people need to be trained and prepared with new individual and team-based skills.

To better understand the implications, I turned back to book to ascertain what were described as the key competencies of the future Chief Operating Officer, Chief Human Resources Officer and either Chief Data or Chief Innovation Officers.

Here are just a few excerpts to ponder:

  • Digital based production and the unbundling of production steps will free the company to focus on its core competencies (customer relationships, R&D, design, and marketing)
  • The notion of a recycled materials supply chain where production materials recycled and reused multiple times.
  • Internet of Things sensors used to monitor the entire supply chain.
  • The need for long-distance transport to drop over time due to the rise of localized production and a closed-loop material supply chain.
  • Universal Cloud access to social technologies, data, and services, independent of physical location.
  • Data management systems that use methodologies, processes, architectures, and technologies to transform raw data into meaningful and useful business information, available to all teams.
  • The need for Big Data security practices.
  • The hiring of employees based on overall potential, not just past record of accomplishment, and on the premise of who can ask the right questions.
  • New notions of peer-based and continuous learning.
  • Reputation measured by contributions in communities and work teams.

 

The book addresses the obvious question regarding the impact on future jobs. The premise is that the democratization of technology will allow individuals and teams to follow their passions and create new economic opportunities and businesses, far different than work being performed today.

These are heady messages, and will cause some pause or skeptics. We applaud Oracle’s supply chain management  conference organizers for hosting such a thought-provoking presentation.

From our lens, there is no denying that the exponential changes occurring in technology and business will eventually impact how supply chains are manifested and managed. The question is in what time frames.

The other obvious question, will teams and individuals be prepared?

We encourage readers to share further thoughts and comments.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.


Apparel and Footwear Supply Chain Meets Industry 4.0 Adoption

0 comments

The first notions of what is today ‘s prolific global industry supply chain presence began with the apparel and footwear industry. Now this same industry is moving in the direction of Industry 4.0.

A posting by Digiwaxx Media’s TheBlast  observes that German based apparel and footwear manufacturer Adidas will soon start the marketing of shoes manufactured by robots within Germany.

This posting notes:

More than 20 years after Adidas ceased production activities in Germany and moved then to Asia, Adidas unveiled the group’s new prototype “Speedfactory” in Germany.”

The German footwear provider is also planning to operate similar “Speedfactory” in the United States along with one in Western Europe. Both the German and U.S. automated factories are initially being planned to produce upwards of half a million pair of shoes annually, and according to reports, would be priced similarly as those produced in Asia.  Addidas Futurecraft MFG 300x145 Apparel and Footwear Supply Chain Meets Industry 4.0 Adoption

The basis of the supply chain strategy is to produce closest to the major areas of product demand, thus avoiding added global transportation and inventory carrying costs. What has brought this strategy closer to fruition is the combination of higher direct labor costs in high volume manufacturing areas such as China, meeting the technology convergence of faster, more dexterous, and cheaper robots.

In his book, Thank You for Being Late, An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations, internationally recognized author Thomas Friedman has an entire chapter devoted to what is described as The Supernova. Noted by Friedman:

With each new (computing and technology) platform, the computing power bandwidth and software capabilities all meld together and change the method, cost, or power and speed in which we do things, or pioneer totally new things we can do that we never imagined- and sometimes all of the above. And these leaps are now coming faster and faster, at shorter and shorter intervals.”

Many publications cite the statistic that it took 50 years for the world to install the first million industrial robots while the next million will take only eight years to reach that milestone. That includes the wide-scale adoption of automated assembly techniques within China itself. Thus is the opportunity being provided to apparel and footwear providers, as well as other industry supply chains that have a high sensitivity to direct labor costs within respective products. Noted is an estimate from German robot producer Kuka indicating that a typical indutrial robot can cost in the area of 5 euros an hour to operate.

Nike was one of the first shoe manufacturers to pioneer the 3D printed Flynit athletic shoes five years ago and now, Adidas is pioneering its application of automated shoe manufacturing.

In the not too distant future, apparel manufacturers will do the same. Industry disruptors focused on “fast fashion” business strategies have been leveraging supply chain near-shoring strategies to provide far more agile responses to the latest and most prominent fashion trends. Their appeal to higher margin, in-demand fast fashion supports higher pricing and thus flexibilities to support near-shoring of fast production. The key to fast fashion has proven to be more agile supply chain sourcing strategies and such strategies will be enhanced further when robotics is applied to the precision cutting and sewing of fabrics.

Of course, there are many social and workforce implications to these trends, all very important to social responsibility practices. That topic deserves a more detailed blog commentary.

Suffice at this point, to close with the takeaway that an industry that was noted as one of the earliest adopters of global based, low-cost manufacturing outsourcing is now on the verge of adopting Industry 4.0 supply chain practices.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.


Tesla Reports Q1 2017 Vehicle Production and Delivery Performance

0 comments

Global electric auto and solar power producer Tesla reported Q1-2017 automobile production and delivery performance this weekend, and the numbers provide both good, or concerning news, depending on perspective. Tesla ModelX Live 300x210 Tesla Reports Q1 2017 Vehicle Production and Delivery Performance

The automaker reported that it had delivered just over 25,000 vehicles for the March-ending quarter, establishing a quarterly record. Total deliveries consisted of 13,450 Model S and approximately 11, 550 Model X vehicles. These numbers were characterized as a 69 percent increase over the year-ago quarter. However, the year ago, quarter is perhaps not a meaningful benchmark, given Tesla’s strategic objectives.

As noted in our last Tesla operational and business performance focused commentary, the company still has a long way to go to meet its milestone of producing upwards of 500,000 vehicles across all model lines on an annual basis by 2018.

There are many areas all along the supply chain that could prove to be weak links, not to mention the steep ramp-up needs for both the battery gigafactory and the Fremont facility. We called attention to a published San Jose Mercury Times expose commentary in February indicating that long hours and reported unsafe working conditions was causing disgruntled workers to seek out potential external labor union assistance. The report indicates that during November and December, employees worked a minimum of 6-day workweeks to keep-up with production needs, as well as a supply chain disruption involving auto pilot technology, that skewed production output into December.

Included in Tesla’s Q4 production report was a notation that 2750 vehicles missed the production cutoff at the end of December, while a total of 6450 vehicles were classified as in-transit to customers.  Thus, the recent Q1 2017 performance numbers had a total Q4 carryover of 9200 vehicles at the start of the quarter.  Thus, net production could be interpreted to be 20,450 vehicles when one nets out the 9200 vehicle Q4 carryover and the 4650 vehicles that were still in-transit to customers at the end of the quarter.

A broader historic to the vehicles in-transit carryover numbers would be the following:

Q1-2016: 2615 vehicles in-transit

Q2-2016: 5150 vehicles in-transit

Q3-2016: 5500 vehicles in-transit

Q4-2016: 6450 vehicles in-transit

Q1-2017: 4650 vehicles in-transit

As Supply Chain Matters has previously observed, the above in-transit trending points to a building vehicle transportation and customer last-mile fulfillment challenge, that continues to weigh on overall operational performance. To reach its 500,000-annual performance goal in just under two years, both production, distribution and customer delivery processes must scale at a much higher rate.

Tesla is now completing an additional round of equity and debt supplemental funding to launch the scale-up of the new Model 3, designed to appeal to a broader consumer audience, and with higher pent-up demand for production output.

Which each passing quarter, there will be far more scrutiny surrounding Tesla’s operational performance as well as the underlying supply chain processes and management systems. While this week’s financial headline is that Tesla may be a more valuable company than perhaps Ford Motor Company or General Motors, we submit the broader determinant is overall consistent supply chain performance and scalability.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.


Let’s Not Import nor Export an Ethos that Turns a Blind Eye to Social Responsibility

0 comments

Our Supply Chain Matters readers have likely discerned that the notions of globalization are being challenged across many political and media platforms these past months, including this blog platform. Many are beginning to question the benefits, and the global and domestic supply chain implications brought about by globalization. That includes the potential for exploitation of labor and of worker safety. While many of our prior blog commentaries have brought forward reported incidents among lower-cost global manufacturing regions such as Bangladesh, China, or Myanmar, we were taken back to read a report of such conditions in the United States.

As a supply chain management community, we can sometimes turn a blind eye when production facilities in external countries provide workers with unsafe conditions. Burning factories with workers inside, workers forced by economic needs to work excessive hours have not stopped U.S. companies from doing business with suppliers residing in these nations. Rather, there is a call for factory audits and oversight when unsafe working conditions become public.

We now have a report that may well serve as a call for audits and responsible actions for certain U.S. production facilities.

The Bloomberg Businessweek published article, Inside Alabama’s Auto Jobs Boom: Cheap Wages, Little Training, Crushed Limbs- The South’s manufacturing renaissance comes with a heavy price is a sobering account of jeopardized worker safety in its most concerning form. Take away any reference to the location, and one could assume the report describes a low-cost manufacturing region within an emerging region of our world.

The report profiles worker conditions among lower-tiered automotive component suppliers across Alabama. The sub-headline takeaway reads:

In the American South, auto parts workers are poorly paid, barely trained, and under relentless pressure. And they’re being maimed and killed.”

Ladies and gentlemen, please do not view this article as “fake news”, rather, a report that provides some compelling observations and evidence. It does not point a finger toward global and domestic OEM manufacturers, who’s plants and worker safety measures are described as good. Rather, it points to a component supplier environment that has described unrealistic OEM contract performance measures, delivery commitment and profitability as overriding needs.

The report describes that conditions among auto parts suppliers in this region:

epitomizes the global economy’s race to the bottom. Parts suppliers in the American South compete for low-margin orders against suppliers in Mexico and Asia. They promise delivery schedules they can’t possibly meet and face ruinous penalties if they fall short. Employees work ungodly hours, six or seven days a week, for months on end. Pay is low, turnover is high, training is scant, and safety is an afterthought, usually after someone is badly hurt. Many of the same woes that typify work conditions at contract manufacturers across Asia now bedevil parts plants in the South.

One could certainly conclude from this report that the ethos of low-cost manufacturing practices has de-facto spilled over to certain regions of the U.S. to compete to a global norm.

We encourage our Supply Chain Matters readers to take the time to read the many incidents and respective production conditions described. Conditions like a maintenance worker being paid $13 per hour working a continuous 12-hour shift in an environment with little worker protections (gangways, handrails, cables), and subsequently falling into a tank of sulfuric and phosphoric acid. Another, an account of a female worker impaled by a production robot because of the overriding concern of the production team that they were falling behind in daily output.

For us, the conditions described evoked a sense of outrage.

As global citizens, we need to all do better to protect basic worker safety. Providing a job comes with certain responsibilities, and that includes a belief in social responsibility practices when it comes to wages and worker safety.

And by the way, we are not a political blog platform. We are rather a platform for responsible global and domestic supply chain practices that are both financially and socially sustainable.

Bob Ferrari

© Copyright 2017. The Ferrari Consulting and Research Group and the Supply Chain Matters® blog. All rights reserved.

 


« Previous Entries