Category Archives: Production Operations

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How robots change the world | Oxford Economics

Thanks to Supply Chain Digest for promoting this study by Oxford Economics.  Read the article here for a synopsis of its findings: Supply Chain News: Oxford Economics Says Robots Benefits will Outweigh Cons

Basically, it says robots will greatly raise productivity and take jobs with a repetitive aspect, displacing workers toward jobs with high cognitive content.  But there may be local dislocations that will be hard for some people.   We’d better prepare for that and put in measures to alleviate the suffering, if we care about people and their lives.  They think about 1.6 jobs will be lost for every job robots take. but GNP may grow 5% as a result.  China is the major user of robots now, and the revolution promises to be harder on them than any other country as it looks now.

It isn’t clear from the summary whether the 1.6 jobs lost will be found again in other sectors, such as service and sales, support of the robots, or technical work like fixing the robots.  Nonetheless this kind of assessment is an eye opener to concerns we may have in our economy and political world for quite a while.

The report is available here:  How robots change the world | Oxford Economics

Or here: Oxford Economics 2019 Report – How Robots Change the World

 

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Globalization in transition

This is a fascinating report about global trade, with many interesting statistics, and with points of view not often presented so cogently.

Authors Susan Lund, James Manyika, Jonathan Woetzel, Jacques Bughin, Mekala Krishnan, Jeongmin Seong, and Mac Muir point out that global trade in services already probably exceeds that for goods. If a fair value is placed on it, we would see the US trade deficit, for example,wiped out and replaced by a larger surplus.  They also point out that labor is a declining factor both in the value of production, and in labor cost’s ability to determine where products get made.  The intellectual property value is much higher, and often moves in reverse fashion to the goods. But it is hard to price into conventional labor statistics.

I can’t wait to read the whole document!

mckinsey-logo1  via Globalization in transition: The future of trade and global value chains | McKinsey  

Here is the full document link.

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Shipper hackles rise as Hong Kong box terminals announce operating alliance

Sam Whelan penned a report on the alliance of four companies managing terminals at the Kwai Tsing terminals in Hong Kong.

Apparently shippers are furious. They believe there will be collusion and rates will rise as a result.  Rates are already higher in Hong Kong than the mainland, and the Hong Kong fees add more cost.

The firms say it’s only to make the port more efficient and gain higher throughput.  Volume handled has been declining in 2018 compared to the prior year.

It’s true that greater cooperation would most likely improve port throughput.  Coordinating yard movements and berth use would offer possibilities for gains. I’m not sure it would have to be at the level of fixing prices.   Improving port and yard bottlenecks is an important activity for firms in port management today.

But you can bet shippers will be on their guard for any collusion on pricing, especially when there’s a falling need for services.  And since it’s China that is involved– these are Chinese firms– we can’t rule out geopolitical considerations that would be collusive.  WE need to watch this one and see how the volumes and prices play out, just like the shippers will.

logo  via Shipper hackles rise as Hong Kong box terminals announce operating alliance – The Loadstar