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Supply Chain by the Numbers

- Jan. 9, 2020 -

  Supply Chain by the Numbers for Jan. 9, 2020

Flying Taxies Coming Soon? US Trade Deficit Falls Again on Lower Chinese Imports; Mattel Tackles Supply Chain Basics; Another Warehouse Robot Maker Raises Big Bucks


$1.5 Billion

That is how much investment South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor said last year it would make in "flying taxis," or what it calls "urban air mobility," by 2025. Why is that news this week? Because Hyundai just struck a deal to partner with Uber to develop the machines for Uber's Elevate business unit. Hyundai is the first carmaker to join Uber's air taxi project, joining eight companies already on board to develop vehicles capable of vertical takeoff and landing and battery-powered flight, ala the Jetson's or Bruce Willis in the movie "The Fifth Element." Interestingly, an Uber exec said at the CES trade show this week that "We've been making steady progress toward a goal of launching Uber Air by 2023," while Hyundai exec said the company expects commercialization of urban air mobility service in 2028.



That is the contribution to total revenue that the bottom 45% of toy giant Mattel's SKU by volume, presenting yet another opportunity for SKU rationalization, as the company plans to kill some 30% of those slow moving SKUs soon. That is one of the many opportunities the company is pursuing under relatively new CEO Ynon Kreiz that involve what might be considered supply chain basics. Another example, as reported by the Wall Street Journal: until recently, toy designer could select from some 150 different shades of red for toy parts, and similar options for other colors. The number of options were further expanded by different finish types (matte or glossy) for most colors. This alone added much supply chain complexity in terms of paint or tint storage, and the need to clean paint lines even as very similar colors were used consecutively. The number of color options is being cut way back, as Mattel expects to save hundreds of millions of dollars annually, after losing money or 8 of the last 11 quarters.


$43.09 Billion

That was the overall US trade deficit in November, as reported this week by the Census Department. That may sound like a big number, but is was down sharply from $46.9 billion in October – and was the smallest trade gap since October 2016. Contributing to a falling deficit was in fact a $2.2 billion reduction in the trade gap in goods with China – though that still came in at a hefty $25.6 billion for the month and stands at $320.8 billion for the year through November. But that is also down from significantly from $382.7 billion through the same period in 2018. The data is even causing some economists to revised projections for Q4 GDP growth, as imports are in effect subtracted from GPD, with some now estimating a 2% rise in GPD for the quarter, versus flattish estimates earlier.


$50 Million

That is how much warehouse mobile robot maker Vecna Robotics said last it has received in additional funding to support its growth iniatives. That brings the total funding for the company since it was spun out from from parent company Vecna Technologies in 2018 to $63.5 million. That for a company with about 90 employees and just $6 million in revenues in 2019, as investor money continues to pour into logistics automation companoes of all sorts. The Vecna system interesting, as it markets autonomy kit that uses software and sensors to retrofit customers' existing fork trucks to operate autonomously. What to do with all the money? "A big part of it is scaling up to meet the massive wave of demand coming at us," CEO Daniel Theobald told the Wall Street Journal. Nearly 28% of warehouses globally will be using commercial robots by 2025, compared with around 3% in 2018, market advisory firm ABI Research estimates.

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