Putting Out The Fire For Ford’s F-150 Supply Chain

Putting Out The Fire For Ford’s F-150 Supply Chain

A fire at Meridian Magnesium Products of America plant in Eaton Rapids, Mich revealed just how fragile supply chains can be. It stopped production of Ford’s F-150 due to a lack of critical parts from this supplier.

The F-150 is Ford’s most popular and most profitable model.  In addition to Ford, other auto manufacturers have been impacted as well, including BMW, Chrysler, GM, and Mercedes-Benz.

At first, Ford believed the factory fire would stop production for weeks or longer. With Meridian’s help, and the rescue of specialized tooling that wasn’t damaged in the fire, Ford cobbled together a new worldwide supply chain for the affected parts on its F-150.

At the time of the May 18th article from Detroit Free Press, Ford expected to re-start production within a few days.

This post is based on the Detroit Free Press article, From panic to triumph: Behind the scenes of Ford’s epic F-150 restart, by Phoebe Wall Howard, May 18, 2018, and the NPR.org article, Ford Halts Production of F-150s After Fire At Supplier’s Facility, by Camila Domonoske, May 10, 2018. Image source: Iconotec/Glowimages.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why did a fire at one supplier force Ford to temporarily halt Continue reading

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Walmart: Check It Out

Walmart: Check It Out

May 17, 2018

Consumers can check out Walmart’s “Check out with me” technology to pay for their Lawn & Garden Center purchases at 350 stores across the country.

Walmart associates, toting cellular devices and Bluetooth printers, scan heavy items like bags of mulch while it’s still on the shelf, saving customers the hassle of loading it into carts and pushing it back into the store to fixed checkout stations.  The technology will also assist customers outdoors in the live plant and potting soil areas.

The system is being tested in Lawn & Garden Centers, because that is where it is most needed to improve the customer check out experience.  However, eventually it could be used elsewhere in the store as well.  If successful, the system could be implemented at Walmart’s 4700 U.S. locations.

Walmart may also have checkout-free technology in the works to battle Amazon’s Whole Foods or the new Amazon Go stores, where customers can just pick up their items and leave while cameras, sensors, and AI technology track and charge them for their purchases.

This post is based on the Retail Leader article, Walmart makes more digital moves, by Gina Acosta, April 23, 2018; and on the Continue reading

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H&M May Be Going Out of Style

H&M May Be Going Out of Style

H&M, the Swedish fashion retailer, became famous for rapid conversions of runway fashions into affordable street clothing. This strategy led to stellar growth with thousands of store openings worldwide.

Lately, the company seems to have lost its momentum. Store sales have slowed, and unsold inventory has piled up. Clothing trends are very short-lived, making it difficult to introduce new products in a timely fashion (no pun intended).

This post is based on the NY Times article, H&M, a Fashion Giant, Has a Problem: $4.3 Billion in Unsold Clothes, by E. Paton, March 27, 2018. Image source:
Erica Simone Leeds
.

Discussion Questions

1. What factors have contributed to H&M’s sluggish store sales?

Guidance: Discuss the intense competition from Zara and other competitors, the decline in brick-and-mortar retail store sales, distasteful advertising, the inability to respond quickly to changes in demand globally, and top management’s apparent failure to identify the roots of the problem and fix it.

2. According to the author of the article, luxury brands and quality apparel have made a come-back. From a product design perspective, what does it mean for H&M?

Guidance: Discuss the place of H&M’s fashions in the product life cycle (maturity/decline). Continue reading

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