What We're Reading This Week: Unpredictability Impacts Supply Chains Globally

Our regular roundup of what’s new in the manufacturing and supply chain media.

Things continue to move fast with coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, and it continues to occupy many headlines. Many are starting to consider what this outbreak will mean in the medium and long term. The medium-term impact is likely to be substantial - industry events in China have been rescheduled, aviation and travel industries have been damaged, and companies are issuing earnings warnings relating to COVID-19.

As for the long term, some real questions need to be answered around how supply chains and manufacturing footprints are designed and managed in the future. 

  • Our own CEO Dave Evans wrote about this topic in Forbes, noting that coronavirus has shown just how outdated and unfit traditional supply chains are for a modern manufacturing world. The recent outbreak is another example of how quickly and easily traditional supply chains can be disrupted, exposing the risk in what is clearly an outdated and unreliable model. In a world where markets and supply chains are global, there needs to be a way to modernize manufacturing.
  • Also in Forbes, Ed Garsten notes that coronavirus has exposed the auto industry’s lack of a contingency plan for manufacturing. Inadequate backup plans and limited supply chains have put the automotive industry in an especially tenuous position for surviving the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, according to two analysts studying the situation. Should the situation extend close to the first day of Spring, the effects of that lack of preparedness could become an even bigger problem.
  • Some of the largest global companies are reporting earnings warnings too. According to  Supply Chain Dive, Under Armour is forecasting up to a $60M revenue hit from the unexpected coronavirus disruptions. Reuters shares that Apple has warned that they expect sales to fall short of expectations due to that impact. Apple warned on Monday that the company is unlikely to meet its March quarter sales goals set just three weeks ago, as the world’s most valuable technology company has become one of the biggest impacted by China’s coronavirus epidemic. 

And in other news:

  • WIRED Magazine thinks that, with his $10 Billion fund, Jeff Bezos can control the planet’s future, believing that the Amazon CEO’s pledge will fundamentally reshape the fight against climate change. 
  • Fictiv CEO Dave Evans is also passionate about sustainability and what the supply chain and manufacturing industry can do to support it. If you’ll be at this year’s SXSW, Dave will be moderating a speaking panel, entitled Design for End of Life: Build Sustainable Product, with speakers from Supplyframe, Dow, and Dragon Innovation.
  • And because we love a teardown, how about this in electrek for a teardown. A new Tesla Model 3 teardown, ordered by the Nikkei Business Publications, came to the conclusion that Tesla is six years ahead of both Toyota and VW when it comes to electronics.
  • According to EE Times Editor Bar Jorgensen, Flex, the large electronics design and manufacturing services company, believes that AR/VR will be the future of manufacturing. Flex says that AR/VR will be so important to the manufacturing industry that they have adopted the combined technologies as one of six key pillars of its Industry 4.0 strategy. The company is focused around enhancing its global manufacturing processes and delivering customer solutions through smart automation and robotics, AR/VR, 3D manufacturing, and more.
  • Are humans underrated? IndustryWeek suggests that they are. It’s likely that the next 50 years will combine the adaptability and context awareness of humans with the strength, precision, computing, and sensing capabilities of robots. It’s certainly an interesting idea, and while we firmly believe that this human augmentation is coming, we continue to be in awe of what humans can achieve and how hard we have to work to get machines to achieve the simplest things we take for granted. This human machine interaction will likely be part of what defines many of our futures.

And that’s a wrap for this week! If you like what you see or would like to hear more about a specific topic, subscribe to our blog and drop us a note on one of our social channels.

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