Saved by the Bellhorn

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On November 12, 2017, Saved by the Bellhorn commented on Performance with Purpose: PepsiCo’s move to a sustainable supply chain :

Brandon – nice article (and not a single word to spare). I found the data on palm oil to be particularly interesting, and probably worthy of its own essay. Specifically, I’ve heard a lot of rumors about palm oil – not just regarding its high saturated fat content (bad for…. a person’s cholesterol, I believe) but also the lack of sustainable farming practices in relation to land use, endangered species, and local populations. For these reasons (among others), I agree that PepsiCo needs to be more responsible in sourcing its products (palm oil in particular) from the farmer’s field to the consumer’s mouth.

It also sounds like PepsiCo is making a number of public relations promises; the RE100, the CDP, and the PepsiCo Sustainable Farming Initiative all sound impressive, but is there any enforcement mechanism? In other words, if Pepsi decides to abandon the agreement, is there any punishment in-place. I have found that for any contract, treaty, or agreement to be enforceable, it has to carry weight and, in some cases, penalties. I would be curious if PepsiCo would volunteer to an agreement that carried penalties.

On November 12, 2017, Saved by the Bellhorn commented on Right turn only? Car manufacturing in Brexit Britain :

Rob – a very interesting read (and not a word to spare). While I usually think about “isolationism” from the lens of American capitalism, the term certainly can be applied to any nation, especially one that votes to secede from the strongest trade cooperative in the history of capitalism. Well done.

I thought your questions were thought-provoking, but I’m also curious how you see the decision to leave the EU affecting the British economy. Your essay starts by identifying several challenges, but ultimately, Nissan decide to source more products from Great Britain and is increasing its vehicle production by 20%. That seems like a huge win for the British economy. Surprisingly, it appears that Brexit and its isolationist policies will have a positive impact for domestic firms. But what are the downsides? Will vehicle purchase prices go up? Will Nissan run more narrow margins? Are other vehicle manufacturers protesting?

Next on my to-do list: figure out what a Qashqai SUV looks like.

On November 12, 2017, Saved by the Bellhorn commented on A smarter track for baggage handling at Dubai International Airport :

Madeline – a very interesting article, and a subject that I haven’t really given much thought to. As airports, airlines, and airplanes continue to make aesthetic and technical upgrades, the “behind the scenes” technology is often overlooked. I would agree that investing in those areas really will have a major impact on customer experience, profitability, and future growth potential.

I like your ideas about incorporating technology into the baggage process, but I’ve sometimes wondered why airlines aren’t doing more to alleviate the bottleneck that is baggage check-in. If we can print our boarding passes at home, why can’t we print our baggage tags? Why has it taken so long for self-service baggage kiosks to make their way into airports, and even then, it’s the quirky folks over at Southwest Airlines doing it? If one of the biggest impediments to on-time departures is baggage loading, why aren’t airlines (and airports) continuing to innovate like DXB?

With major renovations at a number of domestic airports (including my hometown airport of MCI), I’ll be curious what kinds of changes are taking place behind-the-scenes. Thanks for the insight.

On November 12, 2017, Saved by the Bellhorn commented on Samsung, “America First” and the Washing Machine Wars :

Zack – really interesting perspective on a product-line that I haven’t thought much about. When I first read your piece, I agreed with Whirlpool; foreign corporations should not be allowed to “dump” their products on the American market, thereby threatening domestic firms. The airline industry (specifically Delta, American, and United) have made similar claims against Middle Eastern airlines who receive significant subsidies from their governments, and thus, can drastically undercut the prices they charge passengers. That kind of behavior is not fair, and the International Trade Commission should step in accordingly.

But after some independent thought, I need more information about how Samsung can get its products to the US so much more cheaply than Whirlpool. Do they receive government subsidies? Do they take advantage of monetary exchange rates? Are they somehow abusing the American trade system? In the words of a child on the playground, “are they playing fair and square?”

If the answer to these questions is “no,” and instead, Samsung is just more innovative, more efficient, and/or more focused on its supply chain, then I do not see a problem. As Americans, we should pride ourselves on free-markets capitalism, not burdensome restrictions so that inefficient American firms can compete with innovative international ones. Whirlpool needs to do some soul-searching and self-reflection. While it may be human tendency for losers to cry foul, those competitors that can identify strengths and weaknesses, and then subsequently, take advantage of them will ultimately prevail.

Instead of whining to the Internationl Trade Commission, Whirlpool needs to look inward, improve on its own processes, and look to compete without more regulatory oversight.

Let the debate begin…..

On November 12, 2017, Saved by the Bellhorn commented on The Best Supply Chain in The World :

Victor – this was a fascinating look at how Johnson & Johnson has transformed its own supply chain to incorporate IoT. Twenty years ago, some of these processes would have seemed like science-fiction, yet the future is getting ever-closer as technology and innovation continue to dominate the fields of medicine, logistics, and supply chain management.

Regarding the Gartner ranking, what criteria do they use to evaluate specific firms? What is it that allows Unilever and the other top 12 supply chain providers to maintain their top positions? The steps that J&J are taking seem to be fueling their rapid rise, but without some background, I’ll be curious if they can ever vault their way into the top position.

In your last paragraph, you highlight some of the risks with IoT, specifically, cyber security. Have there been any documented instances of hacking with J&J devices? What are some of the other possible outcomes if the system was penetrated? What are firms like J&J doing to prevent these attacks from occurring? I can see the entire system getting shut-down if, as you point out, a hacker can kill a patient.

Lastly, once J&J figures out a way for me to track my keys, glasses, and watch, then they’ll really be on to something.

On November 12, 2017, Saved by the Bellhorn commented on Coca-Cola’s Newest Competitor: Water Supply :

Justin – a great article and discussion on the role Coca-Cola plays in preserving natural resources. Especially in developing economies, access to water is a major hurdle for everybody, including multi-national corporations like Coca-Cola. As they look to source sustainable partners in their supply chain, Coca-Cola will be a global leader.

I appreciate the fact that Coca-Cola is making its own processes more efficient, but how are they helping their partners with water efficiency, water usage, and water purification? Are they assisting helping local populations develop their own abilities to access and purify water? Do they encourage farmers to use drought-resistant crops (like those developed at Indigo)? If so, why don’t they use those images/storylines in their marketing materials?

In response to your question, I think it’s absolutely vital for multi-national companies to continue to invest in local infrastructures and economies. First, if there isn’t clean water to drink, then there probably isn’t clean water to supply the plant. Second, without access to clean water, the local population will gradually leave the local area, thereby reducing demand for Coca-Cola products. Third, an investment in infrastructure will help build brand awareness in the community. If choosing between a Pepsi and Coke, a consumer will choose the product with which he/she has developed a personal connection. For these reasons (and others), investing in these areas will be absolutely critical to the long-term growth for multi-national corporations like Coca-Cola.