Returning Bicycle Manufacturing to the U.S.

by Barry Render

Kent International plans to produce 500,000 bikes in the U.S. in 2017, and more than 1 million by 2020.

Kent International plans to produce 500,000 bikes in the U.S. in 2017, and more than 1 million by 2020.


After decades of offshoring, bicycle manufacturing is coming back to the U.S. as overseas costs rise and companies realize the value of “local for local” production. “From hand-crafted boutique brands to high-volume manufacturing, U.S. bicycle makers are reshoring bike production,” writes Industry Week (Dec.8, 2016).  A confluence of factors are giving rise to new opportunities. Continue reading

Using Drones to Take Inventory at Walmart

by Barry Render

drone work in classic warehouse 3d image

Soon, the labyrinthine aisles at Walmart’s distribution centers — stocked high with canned beans, toys and many other products — could also have a low humming sound. The country’s largest retailer, reports Supply & Demand Chain Executive (June 6, 2016), is testing the use of flying drones to handle inventory at its large warehouses, which supply the thousands of Walmart stores throughout the nation. In 6-9 months, the machines may be used in its distribution centers.

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Google’s Self-driving Technology Creates a Revolution in Material Handling

March 24, 2016

ottoA swarm of robots will soon be overtaking John Deere’s Wisconsin  plant, reports New Equipment Digest (March, 2016). A fleet of new-generation AGVs will begin zipping through the lanes of the company’s assembly line, hauling parts and materials across the plant in an efficient, automated buzz. On the face of it, there is nothing too exciting about this news. Automated Guided Vehicles have been scurrying around pla Continue reading

Robots to Make Adidas Running Shoes in 2016


adidas2A German factory operated largely by robots is making its debut this year as the sportswear company seeks to cut labor costs and speed up delivery to fashion-conscious consumers. Adidas had shifted most of its production from Europe to Asia and now relies on more than 1 million workers in contract factories, particularly in China and Vietnam. But Adidas now wants to bring production back closer to its major markets to meet demands for faster delivery of new styles and to counter rising wages in Asia and higher shipping costs, reports (Dec.19, 2015). Continue reading

Chipotle’s Toxic Supply Chain

December 29, 2015

chipotleThe implication: If you eat Chipotle, you’re doing the right thing, and maybe you’re better, too. But fewer people associate Chipotle with “healthy” today, reports BusinessWeek (Dec. 28, 2015-Jan.10, 2016). Almost 500 people around the country have become sick from their food since July. And food-safety experts say they believe the total number affected is at least 10 times the reported number. Continue reading

Warehouse Robots Chasing Amazon


The Fetch warehouse robot can carry as much as 150 pounds at a time

In Fetch Robotic’s mock warehouse, stocked with granola bars, breakfast cereal, sponges, and other household goods, a worker plucks items from shelves and places them in a plastic bin. The bin is set atop a small wheeled robot that follows the employee’s every step like a puppy. When the container is full, the robot darts off with it to a packing area; a second robot with an empty bin then picks up where the first left off, allowing the worker to keep gathering items without pausing or having to push around a heavy cart. Fetch Robotics, reports BusinessWeek (Oct.26-Nov. 1, 2015), is one of a handful of startups working on warehouse robots aimed specifically at e-commerce companies. Continue reading

Redesigning the Overhead Baggage Bin

October 16, 2015

airplane bins 

Frustrated at having his own carry-on bag taken from him when overhead bins filled, Boeing engineer Brent Walton asked the question many travelers ask: “Why don’t planes have enough bin space for all passengers?” Then he figured out a solution—make bins tall enough so you can turn bags on their side, like standing up books on a shelf rather than laying them flat.
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