General Motors recently wrapped up a multiyear effort to reorganize IT operations and bring them in-house, says Chief Information Officer Randy Mott. GM has automated tasks and consolidated its footprint, focusing on two enterprise data centers and four geographically situated innovation centers.
Capacity issues and rising logistics costs are creating challenges for Sysco, US Foods and other companies. US Foods is using its own trucks to save on costs, while Sysco has had to use "the spot market more often than we normally would," said Chief Financial Officer Joel Grade.
Predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and other tools could transform the way we think about supply chain management within 10 years, write Allan Lyall, Pierre Mercier and Stefan Gstettner. Fewer supply chain professionals will be needed, they predict, and those that remain will need a different set of skills.
Manufacturers such as Caterpillar and Ford are establishing microservices software structures so that they can offer subscription data services in addition to physical products, says Zuora founder and CEO Tien Tzuo. "These are companies with physical products that they're realizing are smart products, and they're finding all these new revenue streams that they now can create and sell and monetize," he says.
Advances in additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, have made the technology faster, smarter and competitive enough to keep pace with conventional manufacturing plants, writes Richard D'Aveni of Dartmouth University's Tuck School of Business. He argues that additive manufacturing is now feasible for mass manufacturers through any of six business models.
HP Chief Technology Officer Shane Wall says blockchain could help protect manufacturers' intellectual property, including part designs. Watermarks on 3D-printed parts could provide a way for original manufacturers to trace ownership along the blockchain.
Teel Plastics takes an incremental approach to internet of things deployment that saves money, allows for a learning curve and delivers quick results, the company's Owen Gwynne says. "We feel the start-small approach is best for us because it gives us the opportunity to master unseen issues before we commit to a major implementation," he says.
An incremental approach to the industrial internet of things can help overcome budget constraints and skepticism from executives, said panelists during the Automation Conference & Expo in May. "To justify the cost and determine the benefit you're going to get, make it a pilot project," suggested B&R executive John Kowal.
Manufacturers can successfully recruit by reaching students early on and by focusing on women, minorities and people from different economic backgrounds, USG Corp. President and CEO Jennifer Scanlon says. "You really get great results when you have people who shine a different light on the same problem," she says.
CVS is launching nationwide delivery service of prescription medication and over-the-counter products in partnership with the US Postal Service. The company, which owns around 9,800 pharmacies across the country, will charge $4.99 for the deliveries that will take one or two days to arrive.
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