2017-04-09 3 min read


This week, at Lux Research's Executive summit, I had a conversation with someone who works in government relations at a major auto equipment manufacturer. The conversation began with high level business strategy - specifically, the trend from companies pursuing supply chain innovation (finding cheaper places to make stuff) to pursuing manufacturing process innovation (so that your products can be differentiated and/or cheaper). But then we shifted to policy, and to auto & truck manufacturers' opinions of CAFE standards and CO2 emissions.

Off the bat, this person pointed out how important heavy vehicles - trucks and buses - are to US CO2 emissions. Moreover, they're owned by people (truckers) whose bottom line is *hugely* impacted by fuel costs - meaning that they're very excited about improvements in fuel efficiency (and hence, reductions in CO2 emissions). The consumer market is a bit messier, but from the automakers' point of view we are *definitely* heading towards lower emissions and better fuel economy. And any hiccup on that path - say, a four to eight year period wherein the EPA is systematically dismantled - only serves to make them less competitive.

I mention this just to remind you there are still a lot of non-crazy people out there. Moreover, some of them even work at well-funded businesses who take lobbying the EPA and White House seriously. Do with that what you will; I know it was something of a comfort to me.

Beyond that: I've been spending a lot of time in Abaqus recently, and jotted down some thoughts about the role of optimization in engineering.

Planning & Strategy.

  • The principles that made Xerox PARC tick. "It’s 'baseball' not 'golf' — batting .350 is very good in a high aspiration high risk area. Not getting a hit is not failure but the overhead for getting hits."
  • A company called Garadget, which makes an IOT garage door opener, blacklisted a customer's device after they criticized the company on Amazon and Garadget's site. They later reversed the decision, admitting that it had not been "the slickest PR move."
  • Trump's budget blueprint cuts New Starts grants, which could have huge, negative impacts on a new Hudson River train tunnel and SAS Phase 2.

Making & Manufacturing.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

Distribution & Logistics.

Inspection & Testing.


Thanks as always to our recurring donors for supporting The Prepared. Credit also to Andreas for sending links.
A photo essay on shipbreaking yards in South Asia, which dismantle old ships for scrap.

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