Robots: Why Can’t They Just Get Along?

Robots: Why Can’t They Just Get Along?

March 8, 2021

Robots at Singapore’s Changi General Hospital are learning much needed communications skills.

The hospital uses about 50 robots from eight different manufacturers to perform a variety of tasks including assisting with surgery, cleaning, monitoring COVID isolation patients, and overseeing patients’ rehabilitation exercises.  Unfortunately, these robots could not communicate with each other, and hallway traffic jams occurred several times a day.

Two robots moving towards each other in a hallway would meet and freeze up, not knowing how to navigate around an object or person.  They would be stuck there in limbo until a hospital worker arrived to get them back on track. Open Robotics’ free software programs now help the robots communicate better with each other.  This promising approach is much needed as more and more robots enter the workplace.


Video Spotlight: 


This post is based on the Wired article, As Robots Fill the Continue reading

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Barnes and Noble CEO Decentralizes Purchasing

Barnes and Noble CEO Decentralizes Purchasing

February 15, 2021

Breathing life back into bookstores is a passion of James Daunt, the latest in a string of CEO’s tasked with helping Barnes & Noble make a comeback.

Daunt’s strategy centers around decentralized purchasing and granting store managers freedom to choose a look and feel that caters to local residents and draws customers in.  He is fighting for the future of brick and mortar booksellers and is determined to win.


Video Spotlight: 


This post is based on the Fox Business article and video, Barnes & Noble’s new boss tries to save the chain – and traditional bookselling, by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, December 5, 2020; the Forbes article, Will Barnes & Noble’s Next Chapter Be Its Last?, by Russell Raath, February 9, 2021; and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: PIXTAL/AGE Fotostock

Discussion Questions:

1.  How do Daunt’s new purchasing policies differ from those of the past?

Guidance: The strategies that grew Barnes & Noble into a huge success Continue reading

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Foxconn’s Wisconsin Factory Repurposed for Google

Foxconn’s Wisconsin Factory Repurposed for Google

January 26, 2021

Foxconn is planning to use its mostly-idle Wisconsin factory to assemble Google server components.

The Wisconsin factory will be reconfigured with computing and infrastructure capabilities.  Foxconn will start mass production of the Google server components in the first quarter of 2021.


Video Spotlight: Foxconn Plant Championed by Trump Lands Google Server Contract (Nov 23, 2020, Bloomberg QuickTake: Now)


This post is based on The Verge article, Foxconn’s Wisconsin factory reportedly wins Google server manufacturing contract, by Adi Robertson, November 23, 2020, and the YouTube video in the Spotlight. Image source: Shutterstock / DR MANAGER

Discussion Questions:

1. What type of process and product layout is appropriate for Foxconn to make Google server components?

Guidance: Since the production of server components has high volume and low variety, a repetitive process should be selected.  Additionally, there is a fixed sequence to assemble the server components that calls for an assembly line product layout.

2.  What are the factors attributed to Foxconn’s Wisconsin factory location decision?

Guidance: The location factors for Foxconn’s Wisconsin factory is U.S. government subsides, availability of skilled labor in Wisconsin, cultural similarities between Taiwan and the US., and availability Continue reading

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