2019-01-28 3 min read


Notes, 2019-01-28.
I never thought I'd be giving away swag for The Prepared, but the people have spoken! The Prepared's own super-classy, FSC certified pencils are going out to paying subscribers this week. Get on that list here ;)

New books on the desk this week: New York Rising (archival construction photos - really beautiful); the graphic novel version of The Goal (a manufacturing management tome); Issue 6 of Logic Magazine; Mmuseumm's 2018 collection catalog. New tools in the toolchest: Wera T-handle Rapidadaptor (turns any 1/4" bit into a T-handle key); Knipex 35-22-115 needlenose pliers.

The most clicked link in last week's issue (~18% of opens) was a trick screw that binds up when you turn it the wrong way.

Planning & Strategy.

Making & Manufacturing.

  • A nice video of a Rolls-Royce Trent XWB jet engine being assembled.
  • On Apple's troubles making the Mac Pro in Texas. The article is partly about the US's lack of high volume screw manufacturing capacity (fair) and partly about our lack of low cost assembly labor (ditto), but it goes a little soft on Flex for not properly staffing the project. It also puts forward two competing ideas: First, that Apple should invest "significant time and money and [rely] more on robotics" - something that would make their process more rigid and introduce barriers to rolling out product updates. But just a breath later, there's an implied criticism that Apple has been *slow* to update the Mac Pro. There was a little discussion on the article on The Prepared's Slack instance, and IMO the most poignant comment was that "framing a Flex project management failure as a failure of US manufacturing is a stretch."
  • A good video of factory built home components. The wall assembly line, starting at about 5:00, is pretty cool.

Maintenance, Repair & Operations.

Distribution & Logistics.

  • There's a new bridge spanning the River Gambia, replacing what used to be up to weeks of delays waiting for a ferry to get to the Republic of the Gambia.
  • Some great supply chain transparency reports from readers!
    1. Eileen Fisher publishes a series of blog posts and articles on their manufacturers - very well produced & personal.
    2. Everlane's Our Factories page is a classic, with excellent photography.
    3. Patagonia's "Footprint" page is, as you'd expect, both holistic and transparent - including the suppliers' physical address, their gender balance, and the specific product lines produced there.
    4. Trase is a tool that "aims to cover over 70% of the total traded volume in major forest risk commodities, including soy, beef, palm oil, timber, pulp and paper, coffee, cocoa and aquaculture."

Inspection, Testing & Analysis.


An investigation of Muslim internment camps in Xinjiang, where American collegiate sportswear is being produced by forced labor.

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