Planning & Strategy.
- Apple put Pegatron, one of its largest suppliers, on probation after the contract manufacturer “violated its code of conduct by allowing student laborers to work night shifts and overtime and do work unrelated to their fields of study, and had then falsified documents to cover it up.” Pegatron is a *huge* supplier of Apple’s; they appear in dozens of Apple’s supplier report records and are, along with Foxconn, a critical final assembler of the iPhones that contribute so much to Apple’s bottom line. Note that this “probation” appears to only affect *new* business, meaning that Pegatron will continue fulfilling contracts that are already in place; note also that Apple *still* hasn’t released a 2020 supply chain transparency report, something that in previous years they’ve done in January, February, or March.
- A comprehensive overview (note, link requires a free account to read - it's annoying but isn't actually a pay wall) of Maersk’s ongoing vertical integration. Maersk wants to be a “containerized logistics integrator,” i.e. a company that both books shipments and also owns ships, and this strategy has understandably frustrated some of Maersk’s traditional customers (freight forwarders, who book shipments and then put the cargo on Maersk’s & others’ ships). Side note, I *dare* you to make it all the way through this sprawling, buzz word filled rap marketing video that Maersk produced.
Making & Manufacturing.
- From Breaking Taps, a pretty rad slow-mo video of a hobby CNC mill showing heavy chatter and ultimately a broken endmill. On The Prepared’s Members’ Slack, Zachary shared a little more about his experiments, including the reality that shooting video inside of a milling machine doesn’t really allow you to use coolant.
- A quick time lapse video of me assembling a bunch of Public Radios. As I mentioned on Invent.FM last week, the part whose supply chain we would have expected to be rock solid - the half pint mason jar we house the radio in - is currently undergoing an extended shortage. It turns out that canning is a little like baking sourdough, and the result is that Newell Rubbermaid - a company with annual revenues around $10B - told us in September that they’d be rejecting all purchase orders until March of 2021.
- A quick video of a *really* big eye bolt being formed.
- Christopher Schwartz on glue sizing, which in woodworking is the practice of applying yellow, white, or brown glue to the end grain in a joint and letting it get sucked into the grain for a few minutes before reapplying glue and assembling the joint.
Maintenance, Repair & Operations.
- Back in 2015 the consultancy I was working for was invited up to 30 Rock to work on strategies for GE Lighting. GE (which wanted to sell their lighting business) had rather smartly realized that anyone who might want some unspecified IoT would probably also want lighting, and therefore light bulbs might be a smart place to put IoT devices. We had been brought in to brainstorm commercial applications (most of which, I’m sorry to say, involved a big box store sending push notifications to customers), but we were also made aware that GE had signed the city of San Diego for a big rollout of IoT enabled cobrahead streetlights. Anyway: That project eventually shipped as “CityIQ,” and then GE sold CityIQ off to a company called Ubicquia, and it included a video surveillance program (the cobraheads have cameras on them) that over the last few months have understandably become quite unpopular. The problem is that San Diego owes Ubicquia three quarters of a million dollars for services rendered, and the software running CityIQ doesn’t currently allow the video feeds to be disabled. In the end, San Diego killed cell service to the cobraheads (preventing video data from syncing to the cloud but not actually disabling the cameras) rather than either killing power to them (leaving their streets dark), or paying Ubicquia yet *more* money to reengineer the system such that the cameras can actually be turned off.
- Apple uses iFixit tools. The irony here is that Apple refuses to sell tools to repair their own products; iFixit is simply backfilling the hole that Apple has dug themselves.
- Some excellent YouTube content on how an onion farmer stores their onions for up to 10 months. “This is why the onion industry is changing, and why the [US Pacific] Northwest, and those of us that have this technology are pushing the envelope for how long you can comfortably buy a storage onion and why, in most cases, it’s superior to a new crop.”
- A second cable at the Arecibo Telescope failed, increasing the chance of it collapsing to “fifty-fifty.” New cables are on order, due to arrive in December.
Distribution & Logistics.
- From my own blog, a short post on my 2018 visit to a potato re-packaging shop in the Hunts Point Produce Market in the Bronx. “The work this shop was doing was a tiny little part of our industrial food supply chain - and a glimpse into the way that a commodity product is branded and rebranded as it makes its way to consumers.”
- On Antonov’s Twitter profile, a couple photos of an An-125 hauling 125,000 unpalletized postal parcels (weighing over 50 tons). Loading apparently took six hours.
- A Tesla Model Y in “Full Self Driving Beta” struggles to navigate the twisty section of SF’s Lombard Street in 2020. A Waymo test from 2009 appears to navigate the same section of road at least as well, if not better.
- There is a global shortage of available shipping containers.
Inspection, Testing & Analysis.
- An open source desktop app for measuring your coffee grind size distribution. Both this app and the CNC chatter video above utilize ImageJ, an open source image processing program developed by the NIH and used widely across science and research. I first learned of ImageJ from this 2016 paper on osseointegration in porous titanium implants; in it, researchers analyzed the open volume of a titanium lattice using ImageJ and then figured out the pore sizes and throat sizes that best encourage bone ingrowth over time.
- Randall Munroe on sand, and how little we understand about it.
- A pretty comprehensive reverse engineering of LEGO’s part numbering scheme.
- The Wikipedia page for Destruction of country houses in 20th-century Britain - a “cultural tragedy” of which I was not previously aware.
- Something I totally missed: Shop-Vac went out of business back in September.