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Chris, thanks for the great article on Apply. I’ve been a loyal customer of Apply since college, and have a collection of almost all the Apply iPhone, iPod, iPad, Macbook and Watch products over the past several years. While I do understand that the Trump government wants Apple to make greater contributions domestically by creating more job opportunities to the U.S. labor force, I think it a mission impossible given the nature of the telecommunications devices industry – to minimize costs and maximize profits it only makes sense for a company to spread its production and supply chain across a number of countries, particularly those in the emerging markets given their lower labor and production costs. Also, there will be more complicated impact from shifting production and shipping back to the US. One question that will inevitably arise is – how will countries like China where lots of iPhone manufacturing and assembly take place respond to the shift? Exiting China would not only mean an elimination of hundreds of jobs to the Chinese labor market, but would also possibly engender actions from the Chinese government such as restrictions on goods imported from the US.

On December 1, 2017, OEL commented on Ford’s Global Supply Chain Hits a Bumpy Road :

Thanks for this interesting article, CranberryCo. The auto industry is probably the most globally-linked industry in that parts of a car are always manufactured in a number of countries and shipped to one country for assembly into finished goods. No matter what the US government’s ultimate decision is on the isolationist trade policy, risks associated with import restrictions and increase in tariff will always remain a concern to Ford and other auto companies in the world. I agree to your arguments that Ford should not implement profound changes to its supply chain management just yet given the uncertainties of the policies at this point. However, I do think that import restriction is only one of the many factors Ford should consider when making decisions on where to locate its plants. Even if the isolationist policy ends up being implemented, it could still make sense for the company to continue sourcing parts overseas because the overall cost would still be lower than if it manufactures and sources parts domestically given the generally higher labor and machine costs in the U.S.

Thanks AC, this is a very interesting read. As an avid fan of chocolates I definitely do not hope to see that climate change would one day significantly impact the supply of cacao bean and, as a result, the supply of chocolate products. I agree with you that what Lindt is doing at the moment would probably not suffice to cope with climate change in the mid- to long-term. In addition to the recommendations you made to the company, I also wonder if they could innovate the growing techniques of cacao beans to make the plant more resistant to changes in temperature and humidity? At the same time I am a little concerned about the introduction of GMO cacao beans as that could raise concerns among customers who are health-conscious. Finally I am eager to learn about the actions the chocolate production industry as a whole would take to better cope with climate changes.

On December 1, 2017, OEL commented on Automated warehousing systems at Amazon :

Angel – thanks for the insightful essay. I very much enjoyed reading it as a heavy user of Amazon. In addition to your questions on how an automated warehouse system would connect holistically with the rest of the system, and how the company could optimize inventory management in light of the automation process, I also wonder the impact a digitized and automated supply chain system would have on Amazon’s workforce. Most evidently, it could result in a shrinking labor force in shipping and delivery functions – how should Amazon react to labor reduction and more specifically, what measures should the company take to ensure that the well-being of its warehousing, inventory management and shipping employees is not significantly negatively impacted? What should Amazon do to ensure that its employees will be adequately equipped to adapt to the digitization & automation transformation?

On December 1, 2017, OEL commented on The last dance of Just-in-Time? :

Giovanni, thanks for sharing this well-written essay on Toyota. I was initially planning to write on the same topic & the same company indeed. Although the cases we studied in TOM this semester have predominately praised the wisdom of Just-in-Time delivery, I have remained a little skeptical for precisely the same reason discussed in your essay – how can companies ensure timely delivery of products when extreme and disruptive events such as earthquakes occur? And would shifting from one-single supplier to multiple ones that’d produce identical parts really help mitigate the climate change risks on Toyota’s supply chain management? If it does, how big a change should the company make to its supply chain in order to find the right balance between timely delivery and cost saving? I’d be eager to learn more.

On December 1, 2017, OEL commented on JD.com – Smart Warehousing For The Future :

I’ve been a loyal customer of JD.com for years, and the reason I shifted from other Chinese e-commerce platforms to JD.com was precisely due to its unparalleled shipping efficiency. Purchased items would normally arrive at your door within 48 hours, even half a day if you reside in a tier-1 Chinese city such as Beijing and Shanghai. When Liu Qiangdong, JD’s founder, announced that the company would build its own warehouses nationwide, he faced massive skepticism since many believed that self-built logistics would incur heavy costs and hence significant financial burden to the company. The strategy has, however, proved to be a wise move over the years and become a core competitive advantage. I am eager to learn about the impact digitization would create on its supply chain, particularly curious about how it could guarantee timely shipping during promotional events such as the Single’s Day (Double 11). I also wonder how JD.com would partner more closely, as you mentioned at the end of the essay, with its merchants to ensure supply chain success in the digitized era.