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On November 30, 2017, JC commented on Brexit: another challenge for Amazon? :

I really enjoyed this article!

The labor aspect of all of this I find particularly interesting. Despite any efforts Amazon may make to recruit and train staff early, I imagine that the reduced ability of EU citizens to work in the UK would catch up to them. In particular, I’d expect a short term challenge in maintaining similar levels of lower-skilled workers, comprised today largely of immigrant workers as you mention who may flock to the higher wages in the UK vs. other EU countries.

However, it also made me think of the relationship of this to the other changes happening in supply chains, namely with digitization. As Amazon increases its reliance on various robotics strategies (e.g., with the acquisition of Kiva Systems [1]) to automate the supply chain, they will reduce the reliance on labor, making this less of a concern in the longer-term.

[1] https://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/03/19/amazon-com-buys-kiva-systems-for-775-million/

I was struck by the figures you quoted at the beginning– Rayonier, with only 1,200 employees, consistently ranks in the nation’s top 50 exporters. This highlights just how limited the scale of U.S. exports has become. Furthermore, it reinforces the shift from needing to convince management of “why should we move production oversees” to “why we should stay in the U.S.”

That’s the question I’d be asking of Rayonier. Is there a specific reason why production needs to be here in the U.S.? I really liked the first two ideas you posed for options. First, if they can continue to be a specialized producer (assuming some of that specialization depends on being in the U.S.) that would provide good rationale to stay. However, if there aren’t compelling reasons, I would think option 2– moving production to be where the end consumer is– would be the necessary approach. Ultimately, politics will be unpredictable, so finding ways to prevent risk is key.

It’s interesting to think about a company like Chubb in the context of the other supply chain challenges faced by other organizations due to climate change. Specifically, as various extreme weather events (like wildfires) are on the rise, it creates more and more instances where a supply chain could be at significant risk. For example, think of the challenges that any organizations faced this past year with a part of the supply chain in or around the Houston, TX area.

With Chubb’s increased need to focus on loss prevention, is there a role for an insurer to support organization’s in better assessing and preventing supply chain interruptions due to these extreme events? Is that a value add that could increase revenues for Chubb? And to what extent can extreme events even be protected against for supply chains that so often necessitate the span of multiple geographies?

Really interesting. Thanks for the article! Similar to the previous comments, I was wondering about whether the impact of climate change will ultimately harm the guayule trees, hindering production from this new source, and put Cooper back into this same situation.

Given that, could they pursue a concurrent R&D effort to identify a different type of tire overall? For example, a tire that requires less rubber (or synthetic) material in the first place? For example, reading about some of the innovations in the tire space, there was a concept tried by Michelin in 2005 called the “Tweel”– an airless tire that uses less rubber since only the tread around the spokes need to be replaced


On November 30, 2017, JC commented on P&G Going Digital :

Very interesting. Sounds like these changing are bringing important value add to an industry that continues to get squeezed. What strikes me though. for J&J specifically, is how these changes align (or don’t align) to the overall values and mission of the organization, nicely highlighted in its credo:

In particular, I wonder about the 50,000 supply chain staff. As J&J seeks to embrace these changes, it’s likely they will need fewer and fewer staff members along the supply chain. You mention training them to take full advantage of the digital opportunities. Is this a good thing or bad thing for the job security of staff, and how has J&J addressed these concerns thus far to its people?


Fascinating article!

One thing I wondered about is the impact this has on costs– we hear so often that Industry 4.0 drives efficiency gains which lead frequently to cost savings. I imagine these products are much more expensive than traditional waste management receptacles. But that they expect to generate some savings (largely in labor costs not having to collect as frequently).

What have cities seen in overall net savings? Have these really given them information that they didn’t have (or could estimate with good accuracy from historical patterns) before?