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This article does a very good of highlighting the complexity and interdependency of the automotive supply chain something I generally feel is missing from the current political rhetoric. In general, the focus seems to fall mostly on where final assembly takes place while ignoring the upstream components. What I think NAFTA has been very successful in doing is keeping a much larger part of the automotive supply chain in North America (spread across all three countries) because the final assembly is happening at a competitive price in Mexico. In a world where more final assemblies are completed overseas, I believe more of the upstream steps will also move overseas to keep the supply chain integrated. I agree that Ford (and the broader automotive industry) need to ensure their opinions about NAFTA are known, including the larger impact a change could have on the entire production ecosystem.
To your point about autonomous cars and the shift to being a technology company, I completely agree that if successful this will shift the centers of knowledge in the automotive industry. However, I don’t believe (at least in the medium term) that the proliferation of autonomous vehicles will fundamentally alter the manufacturing process and the industry will still largely be dependant on the same infrastructure. For this reason, I believe it’s imperative that the industry continues to invest in completing manufacturing in the most efficient way possible despite all the unknowns (political, technological, etc.) that could impact their decisions.

A very interesting view of a different supply chain in a rapidly changing industry. I was particularly intrigued by the concept of leveraging digitization and machine learning to open up the co-creation aspect of the digital supply chain further. While I think an open discourse is essential to the evolution of the internet I look at other internet supply chains and find myself nervous about the ability to have these conversations productively and without influencing the validity of the parent platform (thinking of Twitter and YouTube as two examples). Does the new machine learning approach the NYT is investigating have the ability to fundamentally change the monitoring aspect of a conversation? To your question of the balance between reporting and marketing in the digital supply chain, I think these two forces will always have to exist as competing interests. You need the journalism driven content to manage your credibility (and I think for a productive society) but you also have to balance with some marketing-driven content because the best journalism in the world won’t survive if it no one is reading it.

On November 12, 2017, D commented on Apple: A Thousand Trees :

It is very interesting to see a complete supply chain view of Apple’s impact on climate change. Through the companies self-published environmental report and their often touted goal of powering all the facilities with 100% renewable energy, I had a relatively positive view of their environmental impact. I agree that the extraction of raw materials specifically for Apply products should be factored into their environmental impact but I question how you track and manage that through a supply chain as distributed as Apple’s. In general, I would not expect Apply to have a direct relationship with the raw materials providers working through at least one other manufacturing partner. However, given their size in the market they could start to apply pressure to create this change. To your suggestion of paying a premium for sustainable mining I’m curious if you think end consumers would be willing to carry the cost of that premium, perhaps as a special edition “carbon neutral” iPhone that consumers could purchase at a slightly higher cost.

On November 12, 2017, D commented on Ice, Cold Corona – Get it here for a 35% higher price! :

As a Canadian, I’m very familiar with the current renegotiation of NAFTA in the wake of isolationist policies and it’s very interesting to see a potential outcome that would directly result in increased costs to US consumers. The uncertainty of the whole issue creates a really difficult situation for companies like Constellation Brands that need to be prepared to adjust their supply chain quickly should anything change but don’t want to overreact and change prematurely as a truly renegotiated/canceled NAFTA is still an exercise in theory. To your question of how to maintain morale and communication with your employees, I think Constellation needs to push transparency around it’s lobbying efforts and emphasize that 47% of their revenue is currently generated outside the US, while also developing a plan to improve their international market size. One thing you didn’t touch on that I’m curious about is the response of US national breweries and if they support the isolationist policy or if their supply chains also have a significant international component that will drive similar (although possibly lower) cost increases.

On November 12, 2017, D commented on Scan that drug! :

While I was conceptually aware of the current Opioid epidemic I had no concept of where the supply was coming from and how some level of traceability could improve the situation. While TraceLink certainly offers an interesting solution I echo your security concerns as they will be creating a massive central repository of sensitive data, particularly if they bridge the gap with EMRs. In order to do their best to ensure security they need to design it into the system from step one (well-written APIs, no open access, etc) while also ensuring they manage the human factor as tightly as possible (think the Target data breach). You also mention the concept of an international market and I wonder if TraceLink offers any value proposition without regulation, currently they add cost to meet an externally imposed condition, but if that condition is not present in an international market I’m unsure if TraceLink offers any fundamental value to drive adoption.

On November 12, 2017, D commented on Hot cups of coffee need cold climates :

As an avid coffee consumer, this is a great example of how climate change could impact me directly, something that I feel is often missing from the discussion. I think Starbucks has a unique position because of their scale to drive change and research in the industry and I’m happy to see they are not taking a hands-off approach. I am particularly hopeful for their R&D and education efforts in the space. However the diversification effort concerns me as I don’t believe it actually reduces the risk. You mention other items like Tea as an alternative but recent research[1] is pointing towards climate change also having a significantly negative impact on long-term tea production as well. However, given Starbucks core value proposition I don’t see how they can diversify their supply chain away from a climate change risk and that’s why I feel the R&D effort is critical to their long-term success.

[1] Brian Kahn, “Climate Change Poses a Brewing Problem for Tea,” Climate Central, June 4, 2015, http://www.climatecentral.org/news/climate-change-altering-tea-industry-19071, accessed November 2017.