Kroger is investing in state-of-the-art automated grocery fulfillment centers with help from Ocado, though the grocer doesn't expect to see changes until the first one comes online sometime in 2021. "With shopper receptiveness to digital innovation limited mainly by retailers' imagination, Kroger's new facilities will be coming online about the time that expectations for speed, accuracy, assortment and freshness are hitting new highs," Mike Troy writes.
To cut down on holiday stress, more shoppers are planning to order their groceries online, according to a report from ServiceChannel. Half of online grocery shoppers say they will purchase online more than usual during the holidays, and 63% said they would be somewhat likely to order a fully prepared meal online.
E-commerce fulfillment centers can reduce costs by using better layouts, such as putting mezzanines over work areas and locating picking modules on higher levels, writes Brian Barry, president of F. Curtis Barry & Co. He also recommends basing slotting on the fastest-selling units and doing regular reassessments.
Volkswagen will assemble battery packs in Chattanooga, Tenn., as part of a planned $800 million investment to expand manufacturing there. The overall expansion is expected to add 1,000 jobs.
Manufacturers can fend off tech-based entrants by creating competitive offshoots that are freed of the constraints that govern the parent business, according to this McKinsey analysis. "Up-front due diligence -- performed in part by using the parent company's advantages -- can help ensure that there is a product-market fit before parent companies invest in new businesses," the authors write.
Haier-owned GE Appliances reduced how often its products are handled during the transport process by using virtual reality, radio-frequency identification and a "digital thread" facilitated by artificial intelligence and data analytics. "We want to wait up until the last moment to move a product and reduce those touches," says Adam Wiseman of GE Appliances.
The trade dispute between the US and China has led manufacturers to start sourcing products from multiple countries and vendors, which should be the standard going forward, argues Backbone CEO Matthew Klein. He notes that such a change requires the right technology and that suppliers can be found via marketplaces and portals.
By the end of this year, all workers at Toyota factories will be using exoskeletons as personal protective equipment to minimize the risk of fatigue and injury. The company began using the technology in 2015 and started formally studying it last year.
Software company Dozuki helps manufacturers digitally transform their training, improvement programs and standards with platforms that enable communication. "In our experience working with manufacturers across all sizes and industries, digital-transformation strategies run into roadblocks when they are implemented from the top down with little regard for those that carry out the work," says CEO and co-founder Eric Doster.
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