The digital supply chain

This video from PwC explains how supply chains can be reconfigured to speed up deliveries to consumers operating in a digital world.

Posted in Chap 05 Supply chain, Sector: Manufacturing, Sector: Retail | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Insight into workforce development in the U.S.A.

Since most operations are reliant on people, understanding the labour market is important to managers.  That is why we discus this topic in chapter 11 of our book.  Governments, both at national and local level, also recognise the importance of having a knowledgeable and skilled workforce.

Deloitte Insights provides an article that explores how public sector interventions in the developing the workforce operate in the U.S.A.  In most countries, government at national and/or local level seek to tackle unemployment and skills shortages by providing training and skills development opportunities.  In many cases, there is a debate about their efficacy and the extent to which these actually meet the needs of employers.  It seems this is no different in the U.S.A.

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Leaders way behind the A.I. curve?

Thoughtful piece in the Sloan Management Review concerning the adoption of A.I.  Mukherjee argues that CEOs and consultants are far too complacent about the speed that A.I. will be adopted and hence unprepared for the disruption that it will cause.  He points out that statistical process control (SPC) was invented in the 1920s and deployed in arms manufacturing during the Second World War.  After this the Japanese adopted SPC and improved upon it, whilst Western manufacturers ignored it until the 1980s, when it was almost too late.  He suggests the same thing is happening with regards A.I.

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The Internet of Things – everything you want to know but never dared to ask

We all like to think that we are completely up to speed with every new technology that comes along.  And I blog about these technologies on that assumption.  But the reality is that our understanding is fairly superficial.  So it’s great when someone comes along, in this case Deloitte Insights, and provides a summary overview of all you need to know about a technology.  In this case, the Internet of Things (IoT).

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Manufacturer’s views on a range of issues

Interesting insight into the major concerns UK manufacturers have right now, on website.  Although the headline is about barriers to innovation, the discussion is more wide ranging than that.  There are some good examples of how new technologies are being used to transform operations.

Posted in Chap 14 Operations strategy, Sector: Manufacturing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Ambulance drone

An interesting application of drone technology that makes significant improvements in performance.  Also some insight into design.

Posted in Chap 08 Queuing and customers, Sector: Public Services & Charities | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

No deal Brexit might be “clean” but it will not be lean

I am not going to get into the debate about whether or not a no deal Brexit is desirable or not (it’s not), but I will look at the OM implications of this.  The most obvious impact – taking place right now – is the stockpiling of materials, in particular medicines and drugs.

According the the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) 45 m. patient packs are transported into the UK from the EU every month.  This flow is forecast to be seriously disrupted in the event of no deal.  So AstraZeneca is increasing its inventories in warehouse in the U.K. by 20%, as well as stockpiling at EU ports.  Whilst  Sanofi is increasing its stocks from 10 weeks supply up to 14 weeks.  In order to do this it is leasing additional warehouse space – not as straightforward as it  might seem, as some medicines need to be kept in a temperature controlled environment.

Another implication for this sector is drug testing, market authorisations and licensing.  No deal would mean that all of this would need to be duplicated when the UK is not part of the EU.  GlaxoSmithKline estimate the cost of this to be £70 m. over the next 2 to 3 years, and £50 m. thereafter.




Posted in Chap 06 Materials and inventory, Chap 12 New products and services, Sector: Manufacturing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Agile provides alternative career paths for frontline workers

Having recently written an Operations Insight about ING and blogged about agile teams, this blog from Paul McNamara emphasises an interesting outcome of this way of working. He argues that the most productive and talented frontline staff get promoted into management, where they cease to be “doers”.   By developing agile teamwork, it is possible to provide new career paths at the frontline which provide opportunities for higher salaries and promotion.  He suggests that this could reduce the 30%-40% of overhead spent on “non-doers” down to just 10%-15%.  He gives three examples of companies that have done this – including ING.

Posted in Chap 11 Jobs and people, Sector: Construction, Sector: Financial Services, Sector: I.T. & ecommerce | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Traditional building skills in decline

Traditional building skills are needed in the U.K. in order to maintain the many historic properties we have.  But there is a shortage of skilled crafts people.  So the National Heritage Training Group (NHTG) and The Churches Conservation Trust (CCT) have developed a Traditional Building Skills Training Toolkit. This Toolkit provides a step by step guide to putting traditional building skills and conservation training at the heart of built heritage projects.  It can be downloaded for free from here.

Posted in Chap 03 Processes and life cycles, Sector: Construction | Tagged | Leave a comment

“…as a Service” applied to agriculture by the Small Robot Company

Back in 2012 I blogged about cloud computing and explained three alternative models of this –  ‘infrastructure as a service’ (IaaS), ‘platform as a service’ (PaaS), and ‘software as a service’ (SaaS).  The “… as a Service” business model is based around the idea of the manufacturer retaining the asset but receiving payment by results or by usage.  For instance, Rolls Royce provide their aero engines to airlines on the basis of power usage.

Now the Small Robot Company is promoting its concept of “farming as a service” (FaaS) here.  The company specialises in providing robots that can perform a variety of functions in agriculture:

  • soil and crop monitoring
  • precision spraying
  • laser weeding
  • precision drilling and planting.

The farmer pays nothing upfront, but on a per hectare basis for a healthy crop.

Posted in Chap 14 Operations strategy, Sector: Agriculture & Food | Tagged , , | Leave a comment