Using a Big-Business App to Grow a Small Business

Using a Big-Business App to Grow a Small Business

September 6, 2018

A small business owner of a chauffeur company in the San Francisco Bay Area has successfully grown despite the competition from Lyft and Uber.

A major reason for his success involved the installation of a reservation system that is typically employed by much larger companies.  This reduced his back office overhead and increased his productivity significantly.

This post is based on the LCT article, Operator Made Bold Moves With His Small Fleet, by Martin Romjue, August 9, 2018. Image source: © Juice Images / age fotostock.

Discussion Questions:

1. Describe how better scheduling software impacts staffing, service quality and productivity.

Guidance: After students list the improvements to staffing, service quality and productivity, the instructor can easily lead a discussion on how all of these aspects are inter-related.

2. Why does the owner want to own one of every type of fleet vehicle?

Guidance: Students should recognize that having the capacity to fulfill all customer needs is the rationale for owning one of every type of vehicle.  It also allows flexibility in scheduling to meet the capacity needs for various assignments.

3. How important is staffing to the success of this business?

Guidance: Students Continue reading

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China and Industry 4.0

China and Industry 4.0

September 3, 2018

China is leading the world in implementation of Industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 is a digital factory concept that promises to dramatically increase productivity, decrease inventory holding costs, improve quality, and increase forecasting accuracy.  The IT architecture has to be built around the company’s unique business needs and processes instead of building a strategy around a particular technology to make Industry 4.0 work.

Investments in Industry 4.0 should have a payback period of less than two years.

This post is based on the McKinsey article, Imperatives for China’s factories of the future, by Anil Sikka, August 3, 2018. Image source: Shutterstock / Phonlamai Photo.

Discussion Questions:

1.  Industry 4.0 requires a major investment in IT architecture, e.g. data, analytics, robots. Are there limitations to implementation of Industry 4.0 that were not mentioned in the article for companies in the United States?

Guidance: Review the concept of scalability.  Students should recognize that the costs of implementation may limit Industry 4.0 to larger companies.  Additional issues that should be noted are workforce availability to implement and operate the IT architecture, and the requirement for tighter supply chain integration.

2. What happens to break-even quantity when Industry Continue reading

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New York’s Oat Milk Shortage

New York’s Oat Milk Shortage

September 3, 2018

In 2016, New York City was introduced to Oat Milk. This environmentally friendly product has no added sugar, and less water.  However, its popularity has grown so fast that New York City has run out. Oatly, the company that makes Oat Milk, can’t keep up with demand.

It’s the second most popular milk alternative in Europe. Similar shortages have occurred in Sweden and the U.K.


Video Spotlight: The Latest Trend: Oat Milk


This post is based on the New Yorker article, Hey, Where’s My Oat Milk?, by Antonia Hitchens, August 6 and 13, 2018; and the YouTube video, The Latest Trend: Oat Milk, by The Doctors, April 4, 2018. Image source: © SDM IMAGES / Alamy.

Discussion Questions:

1. What operations management concepts should Oatly re-evaluate in regards to this shortage?

Guidance: Obviously, Oatly should look at their forecasting methods.  The company was unprepared for the rapid increase in Oat Milk’s popularity.  This would be a good place to talk about different types of forecasts.  One of the problems is that this is a new product.  As a result there is a lack of quantitative sales data.

Capacity planning would be Continue reading

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