The Auto Race to Make Ventilators

The Auto Race to Make Ventilators

Should automakers be forced to make ventilators during the coronavirus pandemic?

President Trump recently ordered General Motors to make ventilators. This order came shortly after GM had already planned to start making ventilators and had required “top dollars” for doing so. Are automakers well positioned to produce ventilators? This article examines the challenges they face when building production capacity for specialized, medical devices.


Video Spotlight: Ford Planning to Produce Ventilators


This post is based on the CNN.com article, Automakers Are Racing to Make Ventilators. But It’s Not That Easy, by J. Wattles and P. Valdes-Dapena, March 27, 2020, and the YouTube video, Ford Motor CEO on Shifting Production from Cars to Ventilators, by CBS This Morning, March 24, 2020. Image source: Fuse/Getty Images.

Discussion Questions:

1. In the article, what are the obstacles to the immediate production of ventilators by non-medical manufacturers?

Guidance: According to the article, the obstacles include: intellectual property rights, lack of engineering and process expertise, lack of trained workers, and safety concerns. Other obstacles to consider are potential shortages of raw materials needed worldwide as well as the time and cost to repurpose factories and get new production Continue reading

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Party Continues for Fiesta China

Party Continues for Fiesta China

November 9, 2019

The Homer Laughlin China Company (HLC) of Newell, West Virginia, navigates a tough business environment to maintain its iconic Fiesta brand as the last large commercial pottery maker in the U.S..

Despite strong competition from China, Mexico, and India, affordable pricing, and a heavily manual manufacturing process, HLC has diversified its business into 60% consumer market and 40% food service industry.

The company also started its own online sales 10 years ago.

As a result, HLC is able to remain competitive with its top quality Fiesta China carrying the made-in-America credentials since 1871.


Video Spotlight: How Fiesta Dinnerware Is Made


This post is based on the Forbes article, The Family-Owned Company That Makes FiestaWare Counts On Diversification And Online Sales For Growth, by Jim Vinoski, October 24, 2019, and the YouTube video, How Fiesta Dinnerware Is Made, by Insider, September 9, 2018. Image source: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Discussion Questions:

1. What are the challenges of the commercial pottery industry in the U.S.?

Guidance: The challenges include strong foreign competitors from China, Mexico, and India on labor costs, strong local competitions with 30+ pottery makers, price competition, and a heavily manual manufacturing process.

2. How did Homer Laughlin Continue reading

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Electric Car Market Charges Ahead

Electric Car Market Charges Ahead

September 6, 2019

The electric car market is expected to overtake combustion engine vehicle sales in another 20-30 years.

Currently, even the lower cost electric cars are still more expensive than similar sized combustion engine vehicles. The upper end of the price range for electric cars is naturally limited by a small market.

The key to growing electric car sales will be tied to lower battery costs, which is starting to take place, along with the development of mass market vehicles. New electric cars are much faster to design and build, given fewer parts needed to operate an electric vehicle.

In addition, VW and GM are starting to develop fast-charging stations in a nationwide network to encourage consumers to confidently drive an electric vehicle almost anywhere. This infrastructure is needed to spur sales and helps address consumer concerns over the limited range of electric vehicles. The overseas markets are likely going to mature sooner than the US market for electric vehicles.


Video Spotlight:


This post is based on the Supply Chain Dive article, The great electric car race is just beginning, Continue reading

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