Hello from Shenzhen! I'm on a whirlwind trip - very productive, very fun. Hear more on episode 3 of The Prepared's Podcast, where Zach and I recap the first leg of my trip and talk a bit about TPR's supply chain.
Also, thank you to *everyone* who reached out re: inclusivity last week. I'm happy to say that since then I recruited our first female guest editor (hey Lisa!), and have a few other ideas for bringing new voices into The Prepared. Also a special shout-out to Anastasia, who smartly recommended this:
If you know someone who *isn't* a white dude and works in engineering & manufacturing (and/or is generally a smart, hardworking person), please share The Prepared with them! We'd love to have them.
Lastly, I'm taking a week off! And am handing the reins over to Gabe Ochoa, who's become a good friend since we crossed paths at the ill fated Quirky. Astute readers will recognize Gabe from episode 2 of The Prepared's podcast, where he talks a bit about his background and work.
Planning & Strategy.
- On the troubles that Chinese bikeshare companies are having in the US. Yesterday evening, I grabbed an Ofo and rode 8 km across Shenzhen; the trip cost literally pennies and was the most fun I've had on a bike in years. The scale of these companies' footprints are (as I've linked to previously) absolutely staggering, and I believe we would be lucky to have something even a fraction as great in the US.
- Malcolm Gladwell on Brown v. Board, its failure to integrate teachers, and the huge negative impact that had.
- A profile of James Leprino, who build a ~$3B fortune (and kept 100% of his equity) selling mozzarella cheese to the likes of Pizza Hut, Dominos, and Papa John's.
- QueueY, a proposal that I had a great time working on with Dan and Danil, was selected by a panel of judges from NYC TLC, NYC DOT, Uber Advanced Technologies, Mercedes Bens R&D, and others as a finalist for the Driverless Future Challenge. We'll be presenting our proposal at the New York Tech Meetup on July 11th. Heck yeah!
Making & Manufacturing.
- NUMMI produced 74 vehicles per worker per year; Tesla produces between 8 and 14. This article glosses over the fact, however, that Tesla insources a lot of things that NUMMI didn't - seats, for instance. I'd be *very* curious to see an apples-to-apples comparison of NUMMI's supply chain efficiency (which I'm sure still wins out) and Tesla's.
- On the importance of putting serial numbers on everything you make.
- How Brillo pads are made.
- A good explainer on how lithography works.
- Videos of The Public Radio's stainless steel lids being progressive stamped and coined.
- The Seru method is an assembly line technique where each worker mans a few closely-spaced stations on a u-shaped cell.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- The NYC DEP's Delaware Aqueduct Rondout-West Branch Tunnel Repair project is a multi-year project to fix the 35 million gallon per day leak in one of the tunnels that brings drinking water to NYC. Related, check out the DEP's map of current reservoir water levels.
- Apparently it's standard procedure to leave spare rail bolted down between the tracks of the NYC subway (doing so makes it much easier to do repairs), but anything under 19.5' (which is harder to secure and rattles around more when the trains rumble by) is supposed to be removed. Well, that last rule wasn't followed during a repair last week, and the scrap rail caused an A train derailment. Cuomo declared a state of emergency and pledged (with scant details) $1B to the MTA, but neither he nor NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio (who said that any new spending was "not [the city's] responsibility") visited the scene. Related, Dan Rivoli takes the MTA's track safety class.
Distribution & Logistics.
- A really interesting piece on why London's Tube is so hot in the summer and various approaches to air conditioning the tunnels. Essentially, the clay surrounding the Tube has absorbed a century's worth of heat from the trains' brake systems, slowly raising the ambient temperature from 14°C in the 1900s to 30°C today.
- Maersk was hit hard by the Petya ransomware attack, shutting down much of their booking & terminal management software.
- The CEO of Homer Logistics on how a distributed logistics system could take down Amazon. To me the key sentence - itself a bit of an understatement - is this: "Weaving these large local retailers into a coordinated system of distribution points without damaging their existing retail operations is a significant challenge."
Inspection & Testing.
- A theodolite is a precision instrument used for measuring angles both horizontally and vertically.
- On Apple's new campus, and the harmfully anti-urban stance it takes. "By building a mega-headquarters straight out of the middle of the last century, Apple has exacerbated the already serious problems endemic to 21st-century suburbs like Cupertino - transportation, housing, and economics." Interesting to think of this in the context of Bell Labs' two erstwhile headquarters - one on West Street, which was only vacant for two years before being converted into affordable residences for artists in 1970, and the other in Holmdel, which (despite being an Eero Saarinen masterpiece) laid vacant for a decade and is just now getting traction as an incubator.
- 99% Invisible on Populous, the architecture firm which made *all* of the baseball stadiums (including my hometown's Citi Field, which sits in a huge parking lot) quirky.
Thanks as always to our recurring donors for supporting The Prepared. Credit also to Kane, Reilly, Luyi, Finbarr, and Alex for sending links.
An excellent photo essay of gold mines & production facilities in Africa, Russia, and Kazakhstan.