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I am excited by Dubai International Airport’s idea of a smart baggage tracking system – it provides value to both the airport / airlines and the customers. This tracking system allows real-time visibility of where one’s baggage is, and will reduce labor and time required to deal with lost baggage as well as customer complaints. In addition, using this tracking system may help to improve the overall process of baggage handling systems, moving the baggage from check-in point to the airplane loading point, and moving the baggage from the airplane to the baggage claim are. The tracking system should be further developed to increase efficiency of the physical flow, by identifying and fixing the bottleneck of the process especially during peak hours when there is delay moving from one point to another.

On December 1, 2017, hchoi commented on Samsung, “America First” and the Washing Machine Wars :

This is an interesting debate – I agree with the comments above that further analysis will be needed to judge whether Samsung is really “dumping” in the U.S. and hurting local manufacturers like Whirpool or if it is playing a “fair game” and adding value to drive innovation and efficiency through competition in the marketplace.

It is important to evaluate the consequences of the decision to impose sanctions on foreign corporations. While this may help domestic manufacturers in the short-term, there are high risks following the decision, thus should be carefully considered. One, if the U.S. starts to impose heavy sanctions on imports, it is likely that foreign governments will follow and issue tariffs on U.S. exports. This effect will be prevalent across different industries and not only limited to the the washing machines or the household appliance industry. Second, as you mentioned, Samsung has begun and will continue to increase its direct foreign investment in the U.S. but such trade barriers may discourage Samsung to continue with this investment.

On December 1, 2017, hchoi commented on The impact of climate change on Saint-Gobain’s supply chain :

There are a variety of risks from climate change, and physical risks from severe weather related disasters are one of them. I agree with your point that Saint-Gobain should move away from locations that are highly exposed to severe weather in the long-term. But because of the heavy capital investment and time needed for this change, it should focus on developing technical capabilities to help mitigate the potential risks from such disasters in the short term.

Today the government, environmental agencies, as well as construction/infrastructure companies are prioritizing global climate change sustainability initiatives. I think Saint-Gobain should collaborate with these stakeholders to gain support to develop innovative solutions that reduces the environmental impact of buildings throughout their entire life cycle, from the raw materials to the end-product. I really like Saint-Gobain’s promoting dialogue with the public, and it should continue to lead and educate customers on their initiatives.

I also think because Saint-Goban heavily depends on raw materials like water, sand, and minerals, it should develop sophisticated tools to track down energy data for each of its products and increase visibility of real-time energy use to identify and improve areas where energy inefficiencies occur.

As you pointed out, extreme weather is increasingly becoming a huge threat to distribution service providers like CenterPoint. I think it is critical for CenterPoint to continue to invest in improving infrastructure to prevent power outage as well as develop the ability to react quickly to such situations and minimize the impact. I agree with you that a back up plan for the power grid should be available to mitigate the unexpected risks. Finding the ideal solution seems to be very challenging. Placing the grid overground is exposing the risk of damage from storms or wind and snow. To add to CenterPoint’s optimizing the layout of the power grid, I learnt that CenterPoint has developed an intelligent grid using digital technology that provides real-time data, which enables them to respond to floods very efficiently and deploy the appropriate resources.

Following up to your question on government subsidy, I wonder if the government be willing to spend millions of dollars to a system for major outages that may happen only once in a decade. I agree with the comment above that it would be helpful to quantify the amount of lost economic activity to convince the government.

Time and costs are the key barriers of driving experimentation and innovation in space. I thought that 3D printing would be valuable only in areas where customization is important, but this case shows that it is also valuable in remote locations by drastically improving logistic efficiencies. While the costs of applying 3D technology in traditional manufacturing companies are significantly high relative to their existing costs, the costs to ISS are outweighed by the benefits of removing unnecessary shipments to space. I also read in the news that another benefit of this technology is that waste products could be melted down and used for 3D printing feedstock. This will help ISS to reduce costs by recycling the materials and making them into new tools and equipment.

Regarding your question on the effects on human labor, I don’t think 3D printing will be a threat in the space industry. This technology requires significant labor input to create printable files for various outputs and to continuously develop and polish. I also think it will require complex control to overcome safety issues of operating the technology in space.

On November 29, 2017, hchoi commented on No Longer One Single Shade: Sephora and the Beauty Industry :

It is interesting to see that Sephora’s diversity of products offered is its key competitive advantage while at the same time a major weakness to its supply chain management. Other than investing in digital initiatives, I think that Sephora should optimize its product portfolio by expanding its private label products since it has higher control and visibility of its product and supply chain. Because of the difficulty of predicting demand for other brands, Sephora should implement effective marketing strategies to influence customer purchasing behaviors. Forming partnerships with other big retailers such as JC Penney and department stores will also help Sephora to gain access of customer demand data within the broader beauty industry.

While digitalization may pose a threat to existing jobs, I think that there will be new jobs created that require digital skills such as artificial intelligence programmers and data scientists, who not only build the required infrastructure but also apply such skills to continuously improve and innovate business designs. The bigger challenge is how Sephora will reallocate its capital to invest and make a successful transition to a digital business.

On November 29, 2017, hchoi commented on Ford: Fusion Across Borders :

This was an interesting read on how political pressures are affecting the globally integrated supply chain, something that companies cannot control. While I agree with you that President Trump’s threat is economically counterproductive, I think that Ford needs to take a cautious approach in continuing to invest in Mexico’s manufacturing capacity. It is becoming increasingly critical for global companies like Ford to develop contingency plans to reduce the potential risks from these uncertainties. Ford is not only facing the threat of NAFTA negotiation, but also the growth of automation in the industry. In this case, Mexico will become less attractive as an offshore production alternative to the US.