Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Conveying the Importance of Conveyor Systems

United Parcel Service logo (2003–2011)
United Parcel Service logo (2003–2011) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was recently watching a YouTube video showing Jamie Oliver talking to children in large cities about food. He was showing them a random assortment of vegetables, everything from eggplant down to potatoes, peppers and corn on the cob. Amazingly to me, the kids were unable to identify the vast majority of the foods. It was quite clear that many children have no idea where their food comes from anymore. It comes pre-packaged and prepared and ready to eat. Macaroni and cheese, to them, really does grow on trees. Food is food, it doesn't come from parts, it simply is.

This led to a really interesting discussion shortly after with some friends of mine who were discussing how little modern man knows about anything. Some highlights included:
  • How do we make a lightbulb?
  • Where does electricity come from?
  • How do we fix the engine in our cars?
  • How do we have access to everything at all times?
The last point to me was really interesting. The question was posed originally about the internet, but it expanded into - how do we get fruit in North Dakota in the middle of the winter? 70 years ago that sure wasn't happening, but now you go to the store and there it is. You need a TV tomorrow? You don't even have to leave your house, go online and order it and it's at your door in moments.

Interestingly enough, the true hero in this scenario is logistics. More importantly, if you wander into a FedEx hub or a UPS one, you'll see automation and conveyor systems at their finest. Automated picking systems select and sort products at critical points and move them quickly and efficiently from point A to point B to point C and eventually to your doorstep with a bit of human intervention at each point along the way. 

The efficiency and smarts built into these automated conveyor systems are amazing. Products can be scanned and sorted, routed and picked based on weights, RFID and other means that few of us can even comprehend. 

While many kids may no longer know what's for dinner, I do know that the things that landed on their plate are largely due to automated logistics and some amazing conveyor systems that make our lives much more luxurious and a whole lot easier!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Image representing Hewlett-Packard as depicted...
Image via CrunchBase

The dip in soybean production caused by farmers gravitating to ethanol production got you down? Well, the 2/25 issue of Business Week highlights another potential shortage you might see in 2008: Television ad time.
The shortage is caused by the need for Presidential candidates to broadcast their message to us in those tasty bite-sized nuggets, the 30 second commercial:
Politicians are expected to spend $3 billion on TV ads this year, according to the Campaign Media Analysis Group. The spending spree, up from $1.7 billion in 2004, will do more than raise the prices in the $26 billion TV spot ad market, where rates could double in contested battlegrounds such as Ohio and Florida.
Leave it to Spend Management leader Hewlett-Packard to offer strategies to manage this short term capacity constraint and prove that good sourcing is not just for procurement any more. Scott Berg, HP’s global marketing chief plans to use good sourcing practices in a non-traditional market:
  1. Increasing the use of substitutes: HP will shift their focus to spend more on internet and radio ads.
  2. Identify spot pockets of unused capacity: Berg’s team will identify local TV markets where candidates have dropped out of races, leaving inexpensive ad spots available for opportunistic buyers.
Obviously TV ad time isn’t a “commodity” many of you are regularly purchasing, but HP’s silver lining approach to market conditions shows that Spend Management isn’t just a procurement department goal. And you’ve got to admire their flexibility and creativity in adapting to external events. Certainly not bad goals no matter what you’re purchasing.

Friday, July 13, 2012

3 Reasons We're Struggling with Obesity

Obesity Campaign Poster
Obesity Campaign Poster (Photo credit: Pressbound)

According to the great article I just read, three things are contributing to our “growing” obesity problem in this nation: 

1) Poor Diets
2) Lack of Exercise
3) A Plethora of Mis-Information.

The article shines some light on all 3 of these problems and shows exactly how they tie into the obesity epidemic that is spreading all over our nation. Poor diets slow metabolisms, making it harder for your body to burn fat; they teach people that “quick fixes” exist and that weight loss can be as easy as starving ourselves.

Lack of exercise, well, that’s an obvious one, if we don’t exercise, we don’t stay in good cardiovascular health, we don’t have our bodies running at its best potential, and due to that, we gain extra weight.

Bottom line, all 3 areways that obesity is so successfully sweeping across our nation. Avoid those 3 and you’ll avoid the obesity. Go to a gym where they have hydraulic resistance circuit training routines that can help you stay in the best shape of your life.

Enhanced by Zemanta