Apple’s Clean Energy Supply Chain

Apple’s Clean Energy Supply Chain

August 3, 2018

Apple has already announced that its entire global operation, from corporate buildings to retail stores, are now powered totally by renewable energy sources. This year, Apple is looking to bring the supply chain to the same renewable energy standard, by investing in clean energy projects in China.


Video spotlight: Apple announced an even larger investment ($850M) in solar in February 2015


This post is based on the Apple Insider article, Apple launches $300M fund to power Chinese supply chain with clean energy, by Mikey Campbell, July 12, 2018, and the YouTube video from Bloomberg, Apple taps First Solar for renewable energy in $850M deal, February 13, 2015. Image sources: Shutterstock / Ververidis Vasilis and Shutterstock / Lightspring.

Discussion Questions:

1. Beyond the ability to work with Apple, what are suppliers’ incentives to use renewable energy?

Guidance:  Students should be able to list the advantages in keeping costs down by using renewable sources such as wind and solar power.  This is a straightforward discussion.  The next question should be:  What are the requirements (technology and staff) to maintain a renewable energy source?  Would outsourcing to a wind or solar farm be worthwhile? Continue reading

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3D-Printed Bike Reduces Design Time to Days

3D-Printed Bike Reduces Design Time to Days

July 30, 2018

A start-up company called Arevo is pioneering an environmentally friendly 3D printing process.

3D printing with carbon fiber has not produced a recyclable product…until now. Arevo’s new process incorporates thermoplastic with carbon to make the process and printed product recyclable.

Currently, Arevo is using the new process to print bikes.  The company has designed software that can be used to test the design before printing which further saves energy, materials and time.  The result is that the typical time frame for designing a new bike can be reduced from 18 months to 18 days.


Video spotlight: An Arevo printed bike in action


This post is based on the Fast Company article, Now you can 3D print an entire bike frame, by Adele Peters, July 12, 2018, and the YouTube video, Arevo 3D printing demonstration with bike prototype, by Robotics Business Review, July 12, 2018. Image source: Tomacco/Getty Images.

Discussion Questions:

1. How could Arevo’s 3D printer change the current bike supply chain?

Guidance: The current supply chain involves mainly manufacturing bikes in China and subsequent distribution globally.  Students should be asked to draw the current supply chain, e.g. suppliers sending materials to China, Continue reading

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Hyperloops: Speeding toward the future

Hyperloops: Speeding toward the future

July 30, 2018

Hyperloops are vaccum-sealed tubes predicted to enable high-speed transportation. Preliminary feasibility and environmental impact studies are set to begin for our nation’s first hyperloop route, which would go from Pittsburgh-Columbus-Chicago in less than 45 minutes while traveling up to 700 mph.

These speeds are possible because only a small amount of propulsion is required to push the transport pod through the near vacuum environment inside the tube.  Virgin Hyperloop One hopes to have a working prototype system by 2023, with the Pittsburgh-Columbus-Chicago route completed sometime after that.

At first the route will likely be used to move freight, but later it could move people as well.  Other studies are also in the works for other locations, but this project is about a year of two ahead of other similar projects.

Interest in hyperloops has been growing for several years. Engineering students flocked to SpaceX earlier this month for the company’s third hyperloop competition, competing for top speed on the company’s private track. Elon Musk has called hyperloops a “5th mode of transportation.”

This post is based on the TribLive.com article, Pittsburgh-Columbus-Chicago hyperloop route set to begin preliminary studies, by Aaron Aupperlee, June 26, 2018; and Continue reading

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