Catching Up On The News


Lots of fallout, but not the expected kind

Today is the second anniversary of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in Japan that has had a huge impact on how manufacturers tink about their global supply chains. Forbes as an excellent recap of the long lasting economic and other impact of the event on Japan.

What seems to have flown below the mainstream radar, however, is the recent World Health Organization report indicating that the radiation impact has been negligible. Perhaps it just doesn’t fit into the anti-nuke script, but it seems to me the fact that this is important news.

The additional risk is quite small and will probably be hidden by the noise of other (cancer) risks like people's lifestyle choices and statistical fluctuations, It's more important not to start smoking than having been in Fukushima,” said Richard Wakeford of the University of Manchester, one of the authors of the report.

“Ford's most successful failure”

Roy Brown, the guy in charge of designing the Edsel, passed away in Ann Arbor a couple weeks ago. The LA Times has a pretty good summary of the man and the car.

Interesting that, even though it is well established that senior executive meddling had a lot to do with the legendary failure of the Edesel, he didn’t hide behind that fact and was an Edsel fan until the day he died.

"It's as if Jack buried a bean there"

A 23 story apartment building is going up in only 13 months in Orlando - "It takes that long just to build some custom homes". The Orlando Sentinel as a very interesting story that gets into the particulars of how it's being done.

"Georgia-based Batson-Cook, owned since 2008 by a big Japanese company, Kajima, is adhering to concepts drawn generally from automobile manufacturing and specifically from Toyota Motor Corp.'s obsession with eliminating 'muda' — or waste of motion, material and time — using the 'Lean' method." The key to it is organizing work differently.

Lean 1 Wall Street 0

In the latest Forbes list of the world's richest people, Amancio Ortega passed Warren Buffett to move into third place beind Carlos Sim and Bill Gates. Ortega is the owner and brains behind Zara - the pioneers of 'fast fashion'.

Don't let anyone tell you there isn't money to be made by compressing cycle times.

Not exactly Kiichiro’s car company

The Malaya Business Insight reports on an AP interview with Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda. The interesting aspect is his ‘no new plants for the next two years’ announcement. Toyota is solidifying things and going back to its roots by worrying more about profits and less about growth. The article describes it as refashioning Toyota Motor Corp. into a leaner company that’s more imbued with the venture spirit of founder Kiichiro Toyoda.”

It will be interesting to see how people fare in light of “the appointment of American Mark Hogan, an independent consultant and former GM group vice president, as a board director — the first time in Toyota’s 76-year history it is appointing board members from outside the company.” Said Toyoda, ‘Toyota still has much to learn from GM’. I can’t imagine what that could possibly be, but we are coming up on a year since Toyota fairly brutally sacked 350 folks in Australia. That was on Akio’s watch and a very un-Kiichiro thing to do.


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