Category Archives: Product

Car Makers Reap What’s Sown During Chip Shortage

By George Leopold – Despite optimistic predictions that auto makers have seen the worst of ongoing semiconductor shortages, sources closer to the technology supply chain maintain things will get worse before they get any better.

Industry consultant Semiconductor Intelligence downplayed auto industry assertions about the second quarter representing the “trough” of IC supply chain disruptions. Citing a growing list of auto production cutbacks stemming from the chip shortage, the market tracker countered in recent weeks that “the shortage of semiconductors for automotive applications is getting worse.”

It cited production cuts at Ford, GM, Hyundai, Toyota, the merged Fiat-Chrysler-Peugeot group called Stellantis and Volkswagen. more>

Master Bond

militaryaerospace.com – With a product line of over 3,000 formulations, Master Bond has been supplying aerospace and defense manufacturers with custom formulated compounds for structural bonding and a variety of electronic applications. Master Bond’s mission is to develop cutting edge adhesives, sealants, coatings and potting/encapsulation systems utilizing advanced technology for challenging applications.

Our expansive line of epoxies, silicones, UV curable and LED curable systems feature superior performance properties even in extreme conditions including:

  • High/low temperature resistance
  • Electrical conductivity/insulation
  • Thermal conductivity
  • High/low viscosity
  • Flexibility and toughness
  • Chemical resistance
  • Optical clarity

Our products feature superior long-term durability. They are used in a variety of industries and are designed to meet stringent industry standards and are certified for:

  • NASA low outgassing
  • Federal Aviation Regulations 25.853(a) for flame retardancy
  • UL 94V-0 and UL94V-1
  • U.S. MIL-STD 883J (Section 3.5.3) for thermal stability
  • U.S. MIL-STD 810G (Method 508.7) for fungus resistance.
  • Airbus testing for flame retardancy, smoke emission and toxicity
  • Boeing standards for low smoke and toxicity

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Updates from McKinsey

Buy now, pay later: Five business models to compete
Financing at the point of sale may be a small share of unsecured lending in the United States today, but it’s growing fast. Banks seeking long-term growth should explore market entry, and merchants should reassess their financing offers.
By Puneet Dikshit, Diana Goldshtein, Blazej Karwowski, Udai Kaura, and Felicia Tan – Point-of-sale (POS) financing services in the United States have grown significantly over the past 24 months, especially since the onset of COVID-19. Trends fueling growth include digitization, rising merchant adoption, increasing repeat usage among younger consumers, and an expanding set of players targeting lending at point of sale, a service also known as “buy now, pay later.”

Thus far, fintechs have taken the lead, to the point of diverting $8 billion to $10 billion in annual revenues away from banks, according to McKinsey’s Consumer Lending Pools data. In our view, only a few banks are responding fast enough and boldly enough to compete. Banks that underestimate the threat may see continued loss in share and could lose out on participating in a growing value pool and gaining share among younger and new-to-credit customers, as banks in Australia and China did when facing a similar situation. To avoid that outcome, US banks need to understand the landscape for POS financing and choose from among the emerging models.

This article seeks to give POS financing players as well as merchants the necessary insights to refine their strategies in the POS-financing arena. It provides an overview of the market, details key trends and factors influencing growth, and offers ideas for market entry for banks and partnerships for merchants. The insights are based on McKinsey research, including McKinsey Consumer Lending Pools (a proprietary database covering granular market size and growth trends), the McKinsey POS Financing Consumer Survey and POS Financing Merchant Survey, and our recent experience with banks and merchants. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

Why craft beer’s rise is a warning flag for all sorts of big brands
Research suggests a supply-driven explanation for millennials’ taste for craft beer
By Brian Wallheimer – Over the past 20 years, the largest consumer packaged goods companies have seen their sales erode while smaller companies selling artisanal and locally sourced products have grown. These changes, many believe, occurred as millennials came of age and used their buying power to disrupt established brands with significantly different preferences from those of their forebears.

Those who buy into this demand-side explanation can point to countless surveys in which millennials—born after 1980—profess a desire to support companies that align with their values, offer more sustainably produced or nutritious foods, or take part in social causes.

But Tilburg University’s Bart J. Bronnenberg, Chicago Booth’s Jean-Pierre Dubé, and University of Texas at Dallas’s Joonhwi Joo  analyze the recent surge in sales of craft beers and reject the demand-side explanation in favor of an alternative supply-side one. Millennials often have a wider selection of craft beers to choose from than past generations did, as artisanal products have disrupted a century-old market structure dominated by a small number of big players, and they developed preferences on the basis of that experience, the researchers argue. It’s important to understand the mechanisms, the researchers note, because the same dynamics could erode the dominance of major brands in other categories, or alter how they maintain control. more>

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Updates from McKinsey

The dos and don’ts of dynamic pricing in retail
Dynamic pricing doesn’t have to be extraordinarily complex, but it does have to be strategic and disciplined. Here’s a checklist for retailers.
By Sara Bondi, Maura Goldrick, Emily Reasor, Boudhayan Sen, and Jamie Wilkie – Over the past year, as homebound consumers placed online orders for everything from groceries and soap to yoga mats and laptops, many people were reminded of how easy it is to comparison shop on the internet. With just a few clicks, a shopper can find out which retailer sells a particular item at the lowest price. And because the shift to e-commerce is expected to continue even in the postpandemic era, pricing will become an increasingly important competitive tool for retailers. Dynamic pricing, in particular, is poised to become one of the core capabilities that sets winners apart in the retail landscape of the future.

Simply put, dynamic pricing is the (fully or partially) automated adjustment of prices. It’s a staple of the travel industry: dynamic pricing is the norm for airline tickets, hotel rooms, and ride-sharing services. In e-commerce, Amazon has long been a leader in dynamic pricing; the company reprices millions of items as frequently as every few minutes. But dynamic pricing isn’t just for travel companies or e-commerce giants, and it doesn’t necessarily require ultra-sophisticated software that changes every product’s price multiple times a day. Even traditional retailers can reap tremendous benefits from merchant-informed, data-driven algorithms that recommend price changes for selected products at some level of frequency.

Despite the competitive advantage that dynamic pricing can confer, few omnichannel retailers have developed this capability. Some are only now starting to explore the potential of dynamic pricing. Other retailers conducted half-hearted and poorly planned pilots that, unsurprisingly, had little impact and thus failed to get the organization’s buy-in.

Dynamic pricing isn’t just for travel companies or e-commerce giants, and it doesn’t necessarily require ultra-sophisticated software that changes every product’s price multiple times a day. more>

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maxon introduces a multi-axis controller for highly dynamic positioning tasks

maxon is launching the next generation of Motion Controllers with its MiniMACS6-AMP-4/50/10. The controller is ideal for use in applications where PLC solutions may be too expensive or cannot meet customer-specific requirements.
maxon – maxon’s new multi-axis controller, the MiniMACS6-AMP-4/50/10, offers precise and highly dynamic control of up to six brushed DC motors or four brushless DC motors (up to 540 W continuous output power and 1.6 kW peak output power). The controller is an economical and compact solution for system designers who develop autonomous robots or shuttle systems.

A significant advantage of the new multi-axis solution is that it is programmable with the comprehensive ApossIDE automation software and the license-free Motion Control Library (written in C). Integrated bus interfaces enable efficient data exchange with higher-level controllers; however, it is also possible to run complete process sequences autonomously, without a PLC or PC. The MiniMACS6-AMP-4/50/10 will be available in early 2021.

This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the cancellation of nearly all trade shows. Despite this, maxon is offering a digital trade show experience to all of its customers and anyone who’s interested in learning about the latest in drive technology. Visitors to maxon’s virtual booth will discover the benefits of our latest products such as the MiniMACS6 master controller, learn about high torque brushless DC motors as well as flat motors for robotics, and get to know the Mars rover. Visit virtualbooth.maxongroup.com and contact us to get your ideas moving. more>

Updates from McKinsey

What start-ups need to scale and succeed
Statistically, the odds against a start-up are formidable. Companies that emphasize talent, customer-centricity, and core principles are the ones most likely to succeed.
By James Bilefield – Most start-ups have one thing in common: they usually fail. But the minority who beat the odds and survive share a number of traits. From the outset, they work incredibly hard and move extraordinarily fast to attract early customers, great talent, and additional funding. Once they begin to scale, successful start-ups maintain their momentum, respond quickly to market changes, and remain focused on outcomes and delivering value to customers. Digital entrepreneur James Bilefield shares his start-up insights with McKinsey’s Philipp Hillenbrand.

Philipp Hillenbrand: We always hear that start-ups need to operate at an incredible pace, that speed is everything, and if they slow down, they die. Is this just a cliché, simply a function of entrepreneurial impatience, or actually true?

James Bilefield: The data show that the overwhelming majority of start-ups fail. Some fail fast, while some fail over a longer period of time in markets where funding is usually finite.

To overcome those extraordinary odds, an unusual amount of speed, hard work, and agility is required by the founders and first employees to rapidly develop the business and achieve enough momentum to delight initial customers, attract great talent, and secure further funding. The impatience you highlight is more about ambition, competitive instincts, and, ultimately, survival.

Philipp Hillenbrand: It’s much easier to get off to a running start when you’re small. How did you manage to sustain or even accelerate the velocity while Skype was expanding?

James Bilefield: At Skype, we were on a simple but extraordinary mission—to let the world talk for free and change the face of global communications. Initially, we hired a diverse set of mavericks who really shared our excitement and energy. As we scaled, we strove to ensure that our unique culture and values stayed strong. And thanks to our flat and nimble management style, we maintained a clear focus on outcomes and an obsession on delivering for customers. more>

Manufacturing Predictions for the Next Decade

By Rob Spiegel – Digitalization in automation has been getting a lot of attention in the manufacturing industry over the past year. The popularity of emerging technology is partly due to the pandemic. COVID-19 unexpectedly accelerated the progress of digitalization in automation as factories worked to catch up on the production of essential supplies and run their operations with fewer workers.

2020 was just a peek into the coming technology deployment for manufacturers. Over the next 10 years, new technology will become common in plants. “The form of automation that will be coming in the next 10 years will be a transfer from looking at robotics as automation to looking at true collaborative learning systems,” Matthew Putman, CEO and co-founder of Nanotronics, told Design News. “This will involve robotics improving through artificial intelligence, and that artificial intelligence will improve through collaboration with people.”

Putman predicts that we’ll see the robot market produce equipment this is increasingly intelligent and connected across the network. “There will be more robotics, but more importantly, the robots will be working differently and intelligently. Rather than following human strategies and tactics, robotics will follow artificial intelligence (AI) tactics.” more>

Updates from Siemens

Designing large scale automation and robotic systems using Solid Edge
By David Chadwick – Precision Robotics and Automation Ltd (PARI) is a leading developer of automation and robotic systems globally. Their customers in the automotive sector include established giants like Ford, Chrysler, PSA, Daimler-Benz, Tata Motors, Mahindra, and new significant players like VinFast. PARI designs, manufactures and installs complete, automated systems including multi-station lines for machining and assembly of powertrain components and assemblies.

PARI has been a major user of Solid Edge for 15 years with 160 licenses deployed at their headquarters near Pune in India. Typical automation solutions deployed by PARI incorporate a wide variety of robots, actuators and sensors and other mechatronic items. These systems can comprise over 25,000 unique components.

Mangesh Kale, Managing Director of PARI describes their design process. “If a six-axis robot is required for a specific application then we use robots from major suppliers like FANUC, ABB and Kuka, or other makes specified by the customer. We typically receive 3D models from these manufacturers and we integrate these into our automation system designs. However, many applications demand gantry type robots that we design and manufacture ourselves. In a typical solution, about 60% of the design is using standardized commodities of PARI. However, custom parts are typically 40% of the design. For example, the gripper sub-assembly for any material handling solution is typically a custom design. This design meets specific application needs to handle components at different stages in the machining or assembly process. The customization required for assembly processes is even higher. We find that Solid Edge is a very powerful and flexible solution for designing these sub-systems.” more>

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Updates from McKinsey

Small capital markets businesses have been insulated against many of the troubles affecting their larger competitors. Now things are getting tougher.
By Fuad Faridi, Jared Moon, Anoop Ravindranath, Roger Rudisuli, Manu Saxena, Matthew Steinert – The capital markets arms of regional and national banks are often seen as smaller versions of the capital markets businesses of the top 10 global firms. However, they are actually quite different. Regional businesses have evolved along their own paths, with distinct client franchises, operating models, and sources of profitability. As a result, they require a strategic agenda that is tailored to their specific needs.

Until recently, the capital markets businesses of regional banks have been insulated against many of the troubles affecting larger global banks, and in some cases have performed better than them. Regional capital markets businesses’ returns on equity (ROE) held up better than those of their larger counterparts and regionals maintained their market share.

Now, however, there are signs that life is getting tougher. Structural shifts such as increasing electronification and falling revenues, and questions about the sustainability and “fit” with their parent organizations, are leading to increased scrutiny of these businesses. This has been especially pronounced in Europe. Temporary revenue upticks from market volatility linked to COVID-19 are seen as providing only temporary relief.

Even seemingly more robust franchises are being forced to answer difficult questions. They have found that after stripping out the impact from internal flows and adjacent client bases, the businesses that remain are often far less profitable. They have also found it challenging to unlock the next phase of growth.

In response, regional players across geographies are focusing on improving productivity end to end. A subset of firms is also trying to identify three to five pockets of opportunity for capturing revenue. more>