Supply Chain Article

Ziv Carmon’s picture

By: Ziv Carmon

Counterfeiting is widespread and rapidly expanding. In 2015, the value of fake and pirated products globally was estimated at $1.7 trillion, equivalent to the GDP of Canada. The scope of this phenomenon is vast. In both developing and developed countries, counterfeiting affects many sectors, including apparel, electronics, beverages, food, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, and even vehicle and airplane parts and heavy machinery.

Companies actively try to fight the trade. They seek damages for lost sales from other firms that rip off their designs and conduct major, aggressive outreach campaigns to deter potential buyers from purchasing fake products. They also band together to raise awareness about how counterfeiting funds organized crime and terrorism, and often involves child labor. The Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting and Piracy (BASCP), under the International Chamber of Commerce, for instance, represents 25 companies at intergovernmental forums, formulates best practices in supply chains, as well as funds outreach campaigns such as ibuyreal.org to fight the flood of fakes.

ZEISS Industrial Quality Solutions’s picture

By: ZEISS Industrial Quality Solutions

Decanter centrifuges from Hiller GmbH, headquartered in Vilsbiburg, Germany, are in demand globally. These centrifuges separate solid and fluid materials, such as in the production of olive oil or wine, or for wastewater treatment. The multiton machines achieve high yields unmatched by competitors, thanks to Hiller’s unwavering commitment to precision. Recently, the company acquired a ZEISS ACCURA to help it deliver on this promise.

Dietmar Heller, Hiller’s plant manager, holds up a small bottle to the light and gently shakes the liquid inside back and forth. It has a golden yellow color with just a hint of green. Any gourmand would identify the substance immediately: olive oil, the best kind, even. A brief taste confirms this: the premium oil has a pronounced olive flavor, but there is no stinging aftertaste. “Extra virgin, extra natural” is written on the bottle, and Heller would swear this is true. He knows the producer of this outstanding olive oil from the south of Spain personally. Moreover, Heller knows a lot about the decanter centrifuge, in which the oil is separated from the solids and water found in the olive paste following the harvest.

Rob Matheson’s picture

By: Rob Matheson

In the Iron Man movies, Tony Stark uses a holographic computer to project 3D data into thin air, manipulate them with his hands, and find fixes to his superhero troubles. In the same vein, researchers from MIT and Brown University have now developed a system for interactive data analytics that runs on touchscreens and lets everyone—not just billionaire tech geniuses—tackle real-world issues.

For years, the researchers have been developing an interactive data-science system called Northstar, which runs in the cloud but has an interface that supports any touchscreen device, including smartphones and large interactive whiteboards. Users feed the system datasets, and manipulate, combine, and extract features on a user-friendly interface, using their fingers or a digital pen, to uncover trends and patterns.

Stephanie McArdle’s default image

By: Stephanie McArdle

The FDA has announced an end to the alternative summary reporting (ASR) program for medical device manufacturers and will make the data publicly accessible.

The ASR program originally launched in 2000 when device manufacturers sought an “alternative summary” reporting exemption. ASR permitted medical device manufacturers to send the FDA an accounting of device injuries and malfunctions on a periodic basis (e.g., quarterly or annually) in lieu of fulfilling their standard public reporting obligations. The ASR program actually ended in 2017, but evidence shows that device exemptions were still accepted by the FDA.

Venkatesh Shankar’s picture

By: Venkatesh Shankar

A quarter of a century ago, on July 5, 1994, a company that shared a name with the world’s largest river was incorporated. It sold books to customers who got to its website through a dial-up modem.

It wasn’t the first bookstore to sell online. (Books.com launched in 1992.) But it behaved like a local store, whose shopkeeper knew customers by name; a bell even rang in the company’s Seattle headquarters every time an order was placed.

Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos, set his sights on making it an “everything store.” The company would go on to become not just an everything store, but an “everything company.”

Today, 25 years later, Amazon has reshaped retailing permanently. It is one of the top three most valuable companies in the world, with a market capitalization hovering around $1 trillion, greater than the GDP of nearly 200 countries.

If you had bought $100 worth of its IPO shares in 1997, it would be worth about $120,000 today.

Multiple Authors
By: Stephen Rice, Scott Winter

As driverless cars become more capable and common, they will change people’s travel habits not only around their own communities but across much larger distances. Our research has revealed just how much people’s travel preferences could shift, and found a new potential challenge to the airline industry.

Imagine someone who lives in Atlanta and needs to travel to Washington, D.C., for business. This is about a 10-hour drive. A flight takes about two hours, assuming no delays. Add to that the drive to the airport, checking in, the security line, and waiting at the gate. Upon arrival in D.C., it may take another 30 minutes to pick up any checked bags and find a rental car—and even more time to drive to the specific destination. The average person would estimate a total travel time of four to five hours. Most people would choose to fly instead of driving themselves.

Matthew M. Lowe’s picture

By: Matthew M. Lowe

While most business sectors have welcomed the efficiencies and benefits that cloud technologies and software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings bring, the life sciences industry has been slow to embrace external cloud networks. Merely a decade ago, in fact, an International Data Corp. survey showed that 75 percent of CIOs and IT executives in life sciences and healthcare fields surveyed said that security risks were their primary reason for opposing cloud technologies.

Cloud-averse attitudes are slow to change, and industry research shows that companies that manage health information continue to show major resistance to cloud technology.

Alex Bekker’s picture

By: Alex Bekker

Do you know what a retailer and a tightrope walker have in common? They both have to balance. For the tightrope walker, the logic is clear. But what’s the balance that a retailer is looking for?

A typical dilemma of shortages vs. storage costs

Although the dilemma of shortages vs. storage costs is applicable to any product category, it’s much more painful with perishables. If their quantity can’t meet the demand, retailers should be ready to see a frown from an unhappy customer who didn’t find her favorite dairy, fruit, or vegetable on the shelves.

However, staying on the safe side by ordering more perishables is hardly a cost-effective solution. Perishable products require special storage conditions, and their shelf life seldom exceeds a couple of days, which means retailers must address disposal issues. So, it’s easy to understand why retailers, by all means possible, try to find the optimal balance between storing too much and too little.

A way of handling this dilemma with data science

There is a way to handle the storage/shortage dilemma efficiently: It’s via a deep neural network (a DNN), the most advanced data science approach.

Bill Laverty’s picture

By: Bill Laverty

Operations management plays an important role in the manufacturing process, but similar to a stage crew at a theater, operations managers do all their best work behind the scenes. The best operations managers strive to go unnoticed, and why shouldn’t they? A seamless supply-chain process should require little to no attention from customers.

But recent tariffs are jolting operations. NAFTA changes, along with tariffs on Chinese imports, are forcing operations managers to step out on center stage. New tariffs on materials like steel and aluminum as well as electronic components could mean disruption in the supply chain process, and operations managers have to work diligently to mitigate any hiccups that crop up for the company and its customers alike. Certainly costs are going to increase somewhere, so companies have to decide whether they’re going to absorb them or pass them along to their customers, both of which are less than ideal options.

Terry Onica’s picture

By: Terry Onica

Since the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) and Odette International introduced the Materials Management Operations Guideline/Logistics Evaluation (MMOG/LE) more than 16 years ago, it has become the de facto standard for evaluating supply chain processes in the global automotive industry.

MMOG/LE is widely used globally among automotive suppliers and original equipment manufacturers’ (OEMs) for internal assessments, benchmarking, and improving supply chain performance to help accelerate development of the global automotive industry and deliver significant improvements in moving the industry toward perfect delivery performance.

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