Why Restarting the Global Economy Won’t be Easy
By Jerry Grillo – As the world contemplates ending a massive lockdown implemented in response to COVID-19, Vinod Singhal is considering what will happen when we hit the play button and the engines that drive industry and trade squeal back to life again.
Singhal, who studies operations strategy and supply chain management at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has a few ideas on how to ease the transition to the new reality. But this pandemic makes it hard to predict what that reality will be.
“There is really nothing to compare this pandemic to,” he said. “And predicting or estimating stock prices is simply impossible, unlike supply chain disruptions caused by a company’s own fault, or a natural disaster, like the earthquake in Japan.”
But COVID-19 represents a new kind of mystery when it comes to something as complex and critical to the world’s economy as the global supply chain, for a number of reasons that Singhal highlighted:
- The global spread of the virus and duration of the pandemic. “We have no idea when it will be under control and whether it will resurface,” Singhal said. “With a natural disaster you can kind of predict that if we put in some effort, within a few months we can get back to normal. But here there is a lot of uncertainty.”
- Both the demand and supply side of the global supply chain are disrupted. “We’re not only seeing a lot of factories shutting down, which affects the supply side, but there are restrictions on demand, too, because you can’t just go out and shop like you used to, at least for the time being,” he said. “And all this is taking place in an environment where supply chains are fairly complex – intricate, interconnected, interdependent, and global.”
- Longer lead times. “We get close to a trillion dollars of products annually from Asian countries, about $500 billion from China,” Singhal said. “Most are shipped by sea which requires a four-to-six-week lead time. The fact that logistics and distribution has been disrupted and needs to ramp up again will increase lead time. So, it will take time to fill up the pipeline, and that is going to be an issue.”
- Supply chains have little slack, and little spare inventory. While manufacturing giants such as Apple, Boeing, and General Motors have more financial slack to carry them through a massive economic belt tightening, their suppliers, spread out across the globe, come in different sizes, different tiers, “and these smaller companies don’t have much financial slack,” said Singhal, pointing to a report of small and medium sized companies in China, “which have less than three months of cash. They’ve already been shut down for two months, and cash tends to go away quickly.
“Many of these companies may go bankrupt,” he added. “So we need to figure out how to reduce the number of bankruptcies. Government is going to play an important role in this, and the stimulus package the U.S. has approved will be helpful.” more>
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Posted in Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, Healthcare, History, How to, Nature, Product, Science, Technology, Transportation
Tagged Business improvement, Georgia Tech, Health, Industrial economy, Skills, Technology
Why noise is one of the biggest problems with electric cars
By Steven Dom – Imagine your company is engineering the next line of electric vehicles. You create technical specifications that reduce range anxiety, you’ve perfected the colors that pop and entice customers to buy and with battery technology advancement, you’ve priced it right.
But there are problems with electric cars.
Because the electric vehicle engine emits no noise, pedestrians are more likely to be struck by an electric vehicle. A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicated that hybrid and electric vehicles are 57 percent more likely to cause accidents with cyclists, and 37 percent more likely to cause an accident with pedestrians, than a standard internal combustion engine vehicle.
Countries are requiring the quietest cars emit a sound to warn those around the vehicle of its presence.
Now, imagine after creating the ideal electric vehicle, the customers reject it based on the noise it emits. What if your vehicle’s noise is too strange or annoying?
This is just one of the many perils facing the quiet electric vehicle.
The goal of successfully getting an electric vehicle to market, one that a consumer would be interested in and enjoying, was about improving range. In a world lacking in electric vehicle infrastructure, solving range anxiety would allow customers to feel more comfortable driving the electric vehicles to-and-from work and longer trips beyond.
Engineers focused on vehicle architecture including the number of motors driving the wheels, managing the HVAC system’s energy consumption and finding ways to reduce weight, such as using thinner panels and less sound deadening components to provide better mileage. Without the roar of a combustion engine, there was no need to reduce noise. more>
Posted in Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, Science, Technology, Transportation
Tagged Business improvement, Electric vehicles, Industrial economy, Noise, PLM, Product lifecycle management, Siemens
Being Numerous: Essays on Non-Fascist Life, Author: Natasha Lennard.
By Bradley Babendir – This idea runs through Being Numerous, a collection of essays that seek to demonstrate and enact a means of non-fascist thinking. Lennard approaches a range of subjects as part of this project, from the controversy over someone punching Richard Spencer, to representations of dead bodies in media, to suicide. Each essay is rooted in Lennard’s foundational argument that “liberal, capitalist ideology … fails to address its own potential accidents and limitations.”
The first essay, “We, Anti-Fascists,” is a forceful piece in favor of anti-fascist organizing and thinking. Lennard opens the essay with an endorsement of the on-the-ground counter-violence of Antifa, and makes a convincing case for the necessity of such violence when traditional institutions cannot be trusted to protect counter-protesters. She also argues against the overreaction to Antifa by mainstream American media after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, after which, Lennard says, newspapers spent more page-space condemning anti-fascists than they did the white nationalists who had murdered the civil-rights activist Heather Heyer.
This defense of Antifa is perhaps the part of the essay that will grab most readers’ attention, but Lennard’s subsequent exploration of what she calls “fascistic habit” is its liveliest and most engaging section. more>
Posted in Book review, Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, History, How to, Leadership, Media, Net, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Capital, fascism, Future, Industrial economy, Internet, Rights
4 critical requirements for the next-gen photonic layer
By Paulina Gomez – Today’s market dynamics are making it harder for network providers to effectively compete in an environment where revenue per bit is declining, and network bandwidth requirements are exploding. In the face of these business challenges, network providers are realizing they must evolve and transform their networks towards a more programmable infrastructure that can scale and respond on demand, to meet changing customer expectations and unpredictable traffic requirements.
While coherent optics are a critical element in enabling a programmable optical infrastructure, alone they are not enough to fulfill operators’ requirements for successful network transformation.
So what else is needed?
The photonic layer is the foundation of this programmable infrastructure, leveraging the latest coherent optical technology to deliver maximum scale at the lowest cost per bit. When examining the requirements of metro and long-haul infrastructure applications, including global data center interconnect (DCI) networks, there is a growing need for an agile, resilient and intelligent photonic layer.
This Reconfigurable Add-Drop Multiplexer (ROADM)-based optical foundation leverages flexible, instrumented photonics and Layer 0 software control to scale the network for maximum capacity at the lowest space, power, and cost per bit. more>
Posted in Broadband, Business, Communication industry, Economic development, Economy, Education, How to, Net, Science, Technology, Telecom industry
Tagged Broadband, Business, Business improvement, Ciena, Fiber optics, Industrial economy, Internet, Technology
Plant Module Design
Siemens – Deliver greater innovation at higher quality and lower cost with our comprehensive 3D plant module and equipment design solutions for the Energy & Utilities industry. Our 3D CAD solutions provide a fully integrated and intuitive suite of broad and deep, best in class capabilities. They combine a data-centric approach to modular plant design with full configuration management to dramatically improve efficiencies at the fabrication facility.
Global megatrends such as the rise of international competition and prolonged low commodity prices are disrupting the entire Energy & Utilities industry. Leading Equipment OEM’s and EPCs are adopting a more modular approach to plant and module design and fabrication. more>
Posted in Business, Economy, Education, How to, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Health, Industrial economy, Manufacturing, PLM, Siemens, Technology
Aerospace and Defense Verification Management
Siemens – Our aerospace and defense verification management solution helps companies achieve faster time to certification by providing a single, integrated environment that ensures all product verification events, whether simulation modeling and analysis or physical tests, are driven by requirements, planned and executed in the correct sequence, link individual tests and analyses to necessary resources and provide full traceability.
For commercial aircraft development and certification and military development and qualification, increasing global competition puts contractors under pressure to win new orders and to deliver on time and at cost. Aerospace and defense companies must also demonstrate, in an auditable and efficient manner, that program requirements are achieved through successful test definition, simulation, planning and execution.
Successful product launches and customer acceptance require manufacturers to verify that product requirements have been fulfilled throughout the design and development of the product. more>
Posted in Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, How to, Net, Product, Science, Technology, Transportation
Tagged Business improvement, Industrial economy, PLM, Productivity, Siemens, Technology, verification management