Stefan Kaluzny of Staples wrote last week to Essendant CEO Richard Phillips urging an acquisition deal between Essendant and Staples. Essendant says it is moving ahead on a merger with Genuine Parts' S.P. Richards business.
Unstructured data such as text files, spreadsheets and emails often account for most of a company's data and can offer valuable insight into operations, writes Bridget McCrea. "For example, if an electrical distributor looks deep into the customer support data (from call centers, support tickets, emails, etc.) that it has collected over the years, it will actually find patterns of customers' general problems or what prompted a call," says Opinosis Analytics founder Kavita Ganesan.
Manufacturers with complicated supply chains or field service operations -- including outsourced work -- should examine their reverse logistics process to save money and improve efficiency, writes Tom DeVroy, senior product evangelist at IFS. "Reverse logistics software needs to account for multiple subcontractor types, and reimbursement policies in order to manage the complex situations caused by sub-contracting," he writes.
Nearly 10% of shoppers in the UK admitted to buying clothing only to return it after posting a photo of it online, according to a survey from Barclaycard. Brands' "try before you buy" offerings might be contributing to this trend.
Thailand has announced a ban on 432 types of electronic-waste imports, including circuit boards and television parts, that will take effect within six months.
Robots in a tightened labor pool are a benefit for manufacturers and their employees, says Vecna Robotics executive John Hayes. "You see workers move into way more productive positions, not just for them, but also for the company," he says.
Additive manufacturing's effects will be particularly noticeable in discrete and job shop manufacturing, writes Bradford Goldense, because both use little automation and tend to produce low-volume products.
General Motors, Ford and other automakers are using the data gathered from in-vehicle sensors to mitigate problems early on and improve product quality. "To some extent, the sky is the limit for what could be done with the data," says Cason Grover of Hyundai Motor.
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