Very interesting article. In California, decentralization initially caused large rate increases since there was little real competition. Now, however, the power struggle between utilities and consumers is becoming heated as more and more consumers install solar. Some of the major issues in California are related to paying for the access to the grid and net metering rules. The threats of changing state regulations add another level of uncertainty for the industry. With increasing utiliy prices and increasing uncertainty, my parents finally jumped in and installed solar last year to ensure that they would grandfathered in case the laws change. https://www.technologyreview.com/s/546156/california-decides-the-future-for-solar-is-net-metering/ , http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-rooftop-solar-power-20160128-story.html
Interesting article. It is exciting to think about the potential cost savings from predictive maintenance. In relation to railway infrastructure, I came across another example proposed for the public transit system of Washington DC (http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/6878/the-inglorious-path-back-to-metro-glory-maintenance/). An issue there though was that management has not been fully on board to implement predictive maintenance, despite having software that is capable of supporting it. Predictive maintenance will require a culture change for some industries.
Interesting points. In response to your and Sam’s comments, I think that public transit will still have a place in the future because disruptions like Uber are only as good as the roads they travel on (which are still government-funded). By having separate travel space for subways or dedicated bus lanes, public transit can still be superior to Uber during rush shower. Where Uber is able to compete though is during non-peak times or against buses or streetcars that share the same roads during traffic.
Thanks for sharing the really interesting report!
Interesting article. I have owned various Fujifilm cameras, but did not know that Fujifilm is now diversified into other areas like cosmetics. Their foray into cosmetics reminds me of how DuPont reinvented itself from a gunpowder company to a fiber and chemical company. Gunpowder and textile fibers such as Rayon might seem unrelated, but DuPont’s expertise with nitrocellulose in explosives led to a successful pivot to cellulose-based plastics and fibers products. Interesting parallel with Fuijifilm’s know-how with collagen, which bridged the gap between photographic film and cosmetics. It is important for companies like DuPont and Fuijifilm to stay relevant by never stopping to innovate.
Alex, with changes in technology I have also been thinking about the potential increasing human costs caused by pornography and addiction. Neuroscience studies are beginning to converge on the idea that internet pornography can have similar rewiring effects on the brain and its rewards center as long-term physical substance-abuse. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4600144/ , http://pornharmsresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/Research_Hilton_Sex-Addiction-as-a-Disease_2015.pdf). As it becomes more accessible across the world (aided first by the internet, then mobile, and now virtual reality), what effect will the proliferation of free pornography have on society? It could be worrisome, especially now that children increasingly have mobile phones. There are various U.K. media outlets that have discussed this recently, so I would be curious to hear if this is something that is being talked about more broadly in the U.K.
Great article and interesting topic. I was intrigued by the idea of tracking construction worker locations to analyze resource allocation. Maybe some further analysis of this data would offer opportunities to eliminate wasteful back-and-forth trips on particularity large job sites. With the trip data for each worker, you could use it to model and optimize particular job sites in advance to ensure that too many workers are not in any one particular area. Work would be divided up differently in advance to prevent waste. Also, as mentioned in the article, hopefully Rhumbix can help provide some insight into why certain projects run over budget. I could see this as being very helpful for managers and hopefully they can learn from their mistakes and keep the next project under budget.
I found your description of the future of remote elevator monitoring to be quite interesting. It will require Otis to pivot more into being a data-centric company rather than just an equipment-centric company. I also imagine the possibility to predict elevators failures to be relatively accurate, so I see a real value add in this area.
On a different note, it is surprising to hear that there is a large amount of research and development money being spent in the elevator industry. I would have never guessed! One of the few innovations I have noticed recently is the use of destination dispatching for elevator lobbies (http://otis.com/site/us/OT_DL_Documents/OT_DL_DownloadCenter/Product%20Information%20-%20Compass%C2%AE/Compass%20Brochure.pdf). The elevators where I worked in Chile had this system where it tells users which elevator to take after punching in the desired floor number. It grouped users with other people going to the same floor and was quite effective in reducing elevator travel time.
Interesting article and thanks for sharing. Sam, Gregor, and KS, I agree that ExxonMobil should diversify more in order to position itself better for the future. Like GE, DuPont, and numerous other companies, it is important that it is able to reinvent itself multiple times in order to stay relevant. Since there is still much money to be made in oil and gas while renewable are still relatively less profitable, I do not see them exiting oil and gas for quite some time though. Also, while downstream is such an important part of their revenues, it is also very capital intensive. Profits paint a slightly different picture for the importance of their chemicals division – especially in light of recent oil prices. It has grown to be a significant part of their profits. Interestingly, this chemicals division also produces key plastics and parts for electric car batteries. Maybe a step in the right direction of diversification?
Very interesting topic. Infrastructure is a key aspect and driver of economic growth, and that is where we will see very large effects from climate change. It will be interesting to see what cities and governments can do going forward to build resilient cities and avoid large disasters like Hurricane Sandy. The GSD at Harvard is exploring some of these topics, so I would suggest checking out the GSD work sometime.
Great article. Having worked at Chemours in their refrigerants division, it was of particular interest to me! HFCs were becoming very commoditized (patents no longer protecting the technology), so that was also a key driver for Chemours in seeking the next innovation. It is interesting to note that the regulatory agencies have been acting slower than how Chemours would like them to. For example, the EPA said they would restrict the use of R-22 (Freon) to a certain amount a few years ago, but then ended up allowing a larger amount of use than originally stated. This led to a slower adoption of HFO-based chemicals for that year, but now demand is growing fast for HFOs.
Thank you for the interesting article about London’s transportation. London’s efforts to put “greener” buses on the road remind me of the Transantiago project in Chile that transformed the public transit system. By replacing diesel buses with new non-diesel buses, emissions were noticeably reduced. However, a study showed that changing the bus types were not always sufficient in reducing emissions on certain streets. Reducing overall traffic had a more significant effect. (https://udesantiago.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/influence-of-large-changes-in-public-transportation-transantiago-) London seems to have the right idea by tackling transportation emissions from multiple angles all at once.
I enjoyed learning about Unilever’s efforts in the realm of sustainability, and this article was very interesting. At DuPont, I saw similar efforts at engaging consumers on sustainability like Unilver. DuPont made internal requirements restricting when marketing departments were allowed to use the word “green” with product marketing. Sustainability had become a “must-have” and people were using the word “green” too much. Another interesting point from the article was about supply chains. I have heard of companies reaching up the supply chain in order to make their supply chains more sustainable (like the IKEA case in TOM), but I have not heard that much about companies reaching down the supply chain to change consumer behavior. Thank you for sharing, and good job at clearly laying out what Unilever is doing to both fight climate change and take advantage of the business opportunities this fight provides.
Thank you for highlighting how a city might work to fight climate change. Cities and companies will have to both work together in order to be effective. Urban Detroit poses both a very interesting problem and opportunity with its many condemned homes and abandoned lots in the urban core. You mentioned the desire to attract development to the downtown part of Detroit. Being able to start over from the ground up on some of the empty blocks could be an opportunity to build transit-oriented development and redevelop the area with sustainability in mind. Also, the post references urban gardening, and having visited an urban farm on top of an old warehouse in Brooklyn, this idea is intriguing to me. Being closer to where your food is grown cuts down on transportation costs and food waste. Hopefully Detroit can take their tough economic times to innovate and be an example to other cities.