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I don’t read business magazines that often, but yesterday I read a few articles that compelled me to write about. It reminded me of the company I started long ago; Appolis. Appolis is not a super successful company. We are successful to be sure, but a few Harvard Business Review articles reminded my why I remain optimist. We are good at survival. The company recently turned 13 years old and despite our failures, we seem to be very good at attaining a great degree of success in part because we make creative products and we are good at converting failure to success.
I recently visited a manufacturer that is growing at an incredible pace. The kind of pace that I observed in the reverse manufacturing market.
Side note: Another more recognizable term for reverse manufacturing is refurbishing or repurposing. These businesses buy broken or used stuff for pennies on the dollar, and either fix or disassemble for parts. Great business model!
My visit today reminded me of the 3D printing movement. One of the most revolutionary aspects of 3D printing is its ability to economically produce 1 offs. Rare and unique parts or in the realm of consumerization; unique value when it’s pinpointed to the right buyer.
While traveling recently, I had a chance to read an article (Meet a Start-Up With a Big Data Approach to Hiring) in a magazine about how Big Data is being used to help HR divisions in organizations predict the outcome of new hires. Whitetruffle provides a data service using a proprietary model which analyzes 50 categories of “signals” in a job candidates profile. The claim is that the more data they get, the smarter the model becomes. The result is that you end up hiring better employees. While I’m not an expert in the “Big Data” trend, I summarize its purpose as simply “more data to analyze, means better results”. Big Data analysis can be a valuable tool to selecting the best performers for your company, but it can also be used for selecting the best performing method of picking, receiving, and bin strategies.
Over a year ago, we rolled out the concept of using a low cost consumer device for warehouse picking at a major trades how. In 2012, the feedback can be summed with the comment “Why?”.
Fast forward to 2013. A month ago, the feedback has changed! Now the same people are embracing the concept. The term “Tipping Point” comes to mind. The reasons may be varied, but one this is certain, buyers are on board with the idea that cheap devices from Apple and those running Google Android are more then a crazy idea for use in warehouses. The reasons are very strong:
If you’re a distributor or manufacturer and lot tracking is heavy on your mind these days, then this article is for you. I know lot tracking requirements can be very difficult to plan for and implement. Especially since the world around us wants faster and more accurate traceability and recalls. The biggest question that will drive the strategy your organization uses is this:
How much additional labor are you willing/able to incur?
Over the last 3 months as part of our R&D projects, Appolis developed an iOS based Sales Order Entry System we call “WoW Order”. The need for order entry in the field is alive and well and we continue to get requests for this capability all the time. This article explains our experience with the V2 release of Microsoft Dynamics Connector which was made available to the masses in December 2011. For information about the SDK which is used to create your own custom adapters, check out the Microsoft Dynamics Adapter SDK. (you’ll need login credentials as a partner or customer).
The use of barcodes during manufacturing is not a new concept, but the efficient use of barcodes is something that is much more difficult to design for. Recently I read an article in Technology Review published by MIT. It’s author, David Rotman was questioning whether manufacturing growth is a necessity for the US economy to grow. David and other contributors argue that while design and engineering skills are the strength of the US, over time, countries providing the manufacturing to American companies will chip away at our design skills with one important advantage; knowledge of what current manufacturing technologies are capable of. The article goes on to give specific examples of how American companies are not deeply rooted in the manufacturing process level for a number of manufactured products and therefore, cannot compete. Finally, the article makes the argument that we cannot afford to continue to outsource manufacturing to other countries if we hope to regain a growing economy that fuels more employment. The jobs are no longer growing in the middle tier, but rather are growing in both low end service jobs and highly skilled labor.