Valentine’s Day and the Rose Supply Chain

February 15, 2015

Rose Art from


Valentine’s Day is the one day when a red rose is worth 2-3 times more than any other time of the year. The process of getting the roses to market is fraught with risk, middlemen, crazy expense and bad weather. Americans will buy 200,000,000 this Valentine’s Day. It’s a logistical challenge getting these millions of roses to bloom and arrive at the same time.
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The Rise of Industrial Robots


February 13, 2015

baxter robotRobots will replace a growing number of jobs in industries including automotive and electronics in the next few years, particularly in east Asia, according to The Financial Times (Feb.10, 2015). Worldwide sales of industrial robots rose 23% last year and are on course to double (to 400,000) by 2018, driving radical change in many manufacturing sectors. Although robots have been used in industry for decades, recent advances in technology have cut their costs and increased their capabilities, as a new generation of reprogrammable, multipurpose machines comes into service. Continue reading

Airlines and the Winter Storms

February 7, 2015

Workers at Boston's Logan Airport faced a mountain of snow last week

Airlines have made rapid improvement in storm recovery. Using new tricks, techniques and conservative strategies to position airplanes and employees before storms hit, flights can resume quickly as soon as runways clear. The change is a reaction to stiffer regulations, including stronger rules on pilot rest, and customer outrage on tarmac delays.

New software in use at several big airlines reschedules crews in minutes, sparing dispatchers hours of manual puzzle-solving, reports The Wall Street Journal (Feb.5, 2015). Last week, United got planes back into its Newark, N.J., hub and other Northeast airports on Tuesday night and was back at full strength by Wednesday afternoon, using only 11 reserve pilots. In past storms, that number would have been in the hundreds. The airline keeps 15-18% of its 10,000 pilots on reserve duty to fill in when pilots get sick or delays throw off schedules. United, like other airlines, sometimes ran out of reserve pilots and flights would have to be canceled days later in sunny weather. Continue reading