Reminders

Manufacturing Value Chain

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Over 190,000 people from all over the World, including President Barack Obama, converged on Hannover, Germany, April 25th through 29th for the 2016 Hannover Messe industrial conference. This years event consisted of over 5,200 exhibitors spread across 17 conference halls broken down into 5 focus areas: Digital Factory, Energy, Industrial Automation, Industrial Supply, and Research & Technology.


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I recently visited the HQ of Rethink Robotics and came away completely impressed with the company, the robots, and the potential for this company to transform the manufacturing industry, especially the low and mid-market manufacturers that were previously unable to make the investment in robotics. The market for robotics is expected to increase significantly over the coming years (16.8% CAGR forecast through 2020), with many vendors, such as Rethink Robotics, innovating and bringing robotics to areas of the market that have been left under served in regards to robotics.


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iRobot to Sell Off Military Unit

By John Santagate

iRobot, maker of the Roomba, has entered into a deal to sell off its military robot unit for up to $45million in order to focus on its core business of consumer robots. The company has been providing consumer robots since it first introduced the Roomba in 2002, but its roots go back to 1991 with the release of its first robot Genghis which was designed as a space exploration robot. As a well known maker of consumer robotics, perhaps the sale of its military unit has more to do with the future direction of military robotics and the potential for negative perception should those robotics become weaponized.


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Dow Chemical and DuPont recently announced a merger that will result in two of Americas oldest firms becoming a $130 billion behemouth. The deal, a merger of equals, has been agreed as an all stock deal with an even split of board members and share holder value. Dow and DuPont are the 3rd and 4th largest chemical companies in the world, and the merger will make the new company (DowDuPont) the 2nd largest trailing only BASF. Shortly following the merger, the company will then split into three separate publicly traded companies in agriculture, material sciences, and specialty products.


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Infor Announces Acquistion of GT Nexus

By John Santagate

Infor announced today that it has entered into an agreement to acquire the world's largest cloud based global commerce platform, GT Nexus, for $675 million. This acquisition brings together two highly innovative organizations, with a complementary solution set that will deliver for customers "the first global commerce cloud with end-to-end control and visibility for the production of direct goods"


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In my recent post, "Rise of the Machines - 4 Factors Driving an Increase or Robotics in the Manufacturing Supply Chain", I discussed a few elements that are supporting the move towards leveraging robotics in manufacuting. We are certainly seeing a move towards automation in the manufacturing process, and in at least one Chinese Province (Guangdong Province) there is an active effort to replace human labor with robots.


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The impact of the omni-channel revolution is being felt across every element of business today including warehousing and fulfillment strategies. Customers today are more connected, more informed, and more demanding than ever before, and as a consequence, manufacturers are forced to reevaluate their fulfillment strategies in order to meet ever increasing demand for fast, accurate, and low cost delivery of product to the customer. One element of this adaptation is for manufacturing firms to evaluate the viability of a micrologistics network.


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The use of robotics in the manufacturing supply chain began back in 1961, when GM installed the Worlds first industrial robot on a production line. Granted, that first robotic installation was nothing compared to The Terminator or Wall-E, but what it lacked in Hollywood appeal, it made up for in its ability to transform the way things are made. In the manufacturing environment of today, robotics are now playing a significant role, taking on jobs beyond assembly and helping to drive efficiency, consistency, and productivity across the supply chain.


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LLamasoft, a rapidly growing Supply Chain solutions company, has announced its acquisition of the LogicTools business unit from IBM for an undisclosed amount. The move enhances the already robust competencies at LLamasoft in the areas of inventory and product analysis, transportation analysis, and network design while allowing IBM to continue to focus on reshaping its business towards its cloud and analytics offerings.


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Visibility of inventory as it navigates its way through the supply chain is a common objective and challenge across organizations, regardless of industry. In a perfect world, visibility extends through the supply network (raw material) to the point of consumer consumption (finished goods) and everything in between (WIP/sub-assemblies) to provide an accurate portrayal of the health of the organization relative to inventory. Clear line of sight of all inventory in a supply chain network as well as the velocity, variability, and other related data, goes a long way in supporting supply chain optimization efforts. However, robust visibility in the supply chain is not a reality for many organizations leading to excess inventory in the network driving sub-optimal supply chain performance. One area of significant delinquency in improving inventory visibility is seaborne container shipping.


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