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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Jan. 9, 2014

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Week of Jan. 9, 2014

Google Going Robotic for the Supply Chain; Oil Prices May Plunge in 2014; Goodyear Execs Held Hostage by Union in France; The Risk of Last Minute Christmas Deliveries



Number of robotics-related companies that Google has quietly acquired over the past six months. According to an article this week in the New York Times, the primary focus of the new Google robotics group "will be machines for the supply chain. The company's expected targets are in manufacturing - like electronics assembly, which is now largely manual - and competing with companies like Amazon in retailing." That includes a vision for robots that would carry deliveries from the truck to a consumer's doorstep. The company has put a top level executive in charge of the unit. Expect big, perhaps game-changing things here.




The price under which oil is likely to fall during 2014 - and maybe soon - the if US and Europe reach some kind of deal relative to nuclear weapons in Iran soon. That according to Ian Bremmer, president of consulting firm Eurasia Group during an interview Monday on CNBC. If a deal is not reached, oil could spike much higher, as the risk of an Israeli strike on Iran rises, possibly triggering war in the Mideast, and/or Saudi Arabia goes nuclear, posing other risks. "If an Iran deal happens, we're going well under that [$80 per barrel]," Bremmer said. "The Saudis won't be able to keep that going [by reducing production levels.]"



Number of orders out of 75 total placed by StellaService Inc. (a customer satisfaction related firm) on the last day a number of on-line retailers said they could be placed and still arrive by Dec. 24 that in fact were not delivered by that date. That is 16%. The e-merchants tested included Amazon, Walmart, Kohl's, Dell, Macy's, Gap, Pottery Barn and others. Of course, this is in the context of a number of factors that led UPS (and to a much lesser extent FedEx) to be unable to get thousands of deliveries to consumers in time for Christmas, for which the retailers also bear some responsibility. See The Factors Behind the UPS Failure to Deliver Christmas Goods.



Number of days two Goodyear Tire executives were held hostage by angry union workers in France before finally being freed after police at last intervened. Goodyear had announced plans in January, 2013 to shut a factory in Amiens-Nord after failing to reach an accord with the CGT, the main union at the site, after five years of talks. In 2009, managers or executives at the French units of Caterpillar, 3M, and Sony were among those held hostage by workers unhappy with job cuts and/or severance pay. "This show is only just beginning," said Mickael Wamen, leader of the CGT union at the Goodyear plant. Our advice: rethink accepting that French assignment.

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