July 30, 2021
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Trends & Technology
Tesla, Ford and Volkswagen are among manufacturers planning to use lithium-iron-phosphate cells in some electric vehicles and products, citing their cheaper cost and not needing cobalt and nickel, which are scarce and susceptible to price fluctuations. "The good news for building local LFP manufacturing is that the supply chain is simple: Outside of lithium, it's iron and phosphoric acid, two cheap materials already made [in the US] in large quantities," says Sam Jaffe, head of Cairn Energy Research Advisors.
Full Story: TechCrunch (tiered subscription model) (7/28) 
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Machine learning and artificial intelligence are important technologies that add value to the production process, but humans are still necessary to convert data into intelligent decisions, writes Arno Koch, owner of Makigami BV. Koch offers six recommendations for how factories can integrate smart technology, and notes that "simplification, standardization, stabilization, engaging people and reduction of non-value-adding activities are good ideas."
Full Story: IndustryWeek (7/28) 
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Varda Space Industries, a startup that aims to establish a manufacturing facility in space, raised $42 million in its Series A funding round. With the new capital, the company hopes to have its first manufacturing facility operating in space as early as 2023.
Full Story: TechCrunch (tiered subscription model) (7/29) 
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The zero-trust architecture has been accepted by almost every one of the 1,200 decision-makers surveyed by Microsoft. "The shift to hybrid work, accelerated by COVID-19, is also driving the move towards broader adoption of Zero Trust with 81% of organizations having already begun the move toward a hybrid workplace," writes Microsoft executive Vasu Jakkal.
Full Story: ZDNet (7/29) 
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Supply Chain
Supply chain disruptions hit pet food makers
(Tim Graham/Getty Images)
Pet food ingredient prices have risen by as much as 20% since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the Pet Food Institute, with shortages in edible oils and workers at food makers -- all of which has left some humans unable to find preferred foods and treats for their pets. The South Shore Pet Food Pantry near Boston has been making more frequent updates to its food wish list so donors have alternatives for sold-out products, says the animal charity's co-founder Kristen Clancy.
Full Story: Reuters (7/29) 
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Toy companies including Mattel, Hasbro and MGA Entertainment warn they will increase prices during the holiday season due to supply shortages and rising costs for materials, labor and shipping. The daily spot rate for 40-foot containers from China to the West Coast reached $18,346 Wednesday, compared with $2,680 in July 2020.
Full Story: The Wall Street Journal (7/29) 
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Industrial IoT
Siemens and Dow are partnering on an initiative to enable digital twin applications and other innovations in chemical process manufacturing. The project will harness the input of Dow's frontline workers, including technicians, site engineers, maintenance managers, reliability engineers, equipment operators and managers.
Full Story: VentureBeat (7/28) 
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Workforce of Tomorrow
Manufacturers need to recruit for "superjobs," which combine traditional manufacturing skills and the latest technology, as well as develop a younger and more diverse talent pool, writes Stephen Laaper of Deloitte Consulting. "By combining the strengths of the human workforce with machines and platforms, manufacturers can achieve exponential improvements in customer service, output and productivity," Laaper writes.
Full Story: Supply & Demand Chain Executive magazine (free registration) (7/29) 
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Editor's Note
Manufacturing has long been synonymous with Six Sigma development -- relentless perfectionism and then releasing a new product. But a different project approach is necessary if manufacturers want to stay agile in digital transformation efforts meant to center on the customer. Learn what organizations can do to adopt a customer experience-focused mindset and transform in the ways that matter most. Join this discussion with speakers from Simplus, Komatsu and W.R. Grace on Monday, Aug. 2. Learn more and register here.
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It is a time in which we will redefine what it means to be human, for this is not just the start of a revolution, it is the start of an evolution.
David A. Sinclair,
biologist, professor of genetics
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