The Supply Chain Matters blog features our eight in the year 2020 consolidated editions of This Week in Supply Chain Management Tech. Since our last full edition published in April, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has somewhat slowed the pace of technology announcements. However, there have been sone significant developments and we have been featuring singular supply chain technology announcements.
This series presents a brief synopsis of noteworthy supply chain management focused technology news which we believe would be of specific interest to our global-based blog readership.
Included in this edition are capsulated highlights of noteworthy announcements and/or developments from electric vehicle and home appliance manufacturing, electronic 3D Printing, ERP and SCM software providers.
General Electric Appliances
Fictiv and Jabil Inc.
Rivian Automotive Raises Additional $2.5 Billion in Private Funding
Electric powered pick-up truck and SUV designer and manufacturer Rivian Automotive announced a $2.5 billion funding round that featured Ford Motor Company and Amazon among other investors. The latest funding round was led by T. Rowe Price and included new investors Soros Fund Management and Fidelity Investments. Amazon and Black Rock Inc. reportedly added to earlier investments in this start-up electric vehicle manufacturer.
Originally founded in 2009 by an MIT engineering alum, this manufacturer’s stated mission is in developing vehicles, products and services related to sustainable transportation. The Plymouth Michigan based manufacturer has been designated by some as the new Tesla in the area of electric powered trucks and a business model that challenges traditional industry player’s business models such as selling through independent dealerships. Not counting this round, Rivian has previously raised $2.8 billion in funding.
In September of last year, Amazon.com indicated an intent to acquire over 100,000 electric powered delivery vans from Rivian as a response to Founder Jeff Bezos’s pledge that this retail and computing giant will be carbon neutral by 2040.
In September of 2016, Rivian had the opportunity to acquire the former Normal Illinois automotive assembly manufacturing facility then owned by Mitsubishi Motors.
Ford Motor Company invested a reported $500 million in April of last year, as the principal sponsor of the electric pick-up vehicle, which was planned for market launch in late 2020. The COVID-19 disruption forced a postponement of that market release strategy to now be next year.
The added funds will be utilized to boost Rivian’s efforts in launching three new vehicle models in 2021, including an electric pick-up truck and SUV as well as fulfilling a contract for new delivery vans for Amazon. Additional needs will be in scaling-up supply chain and production systems.
This latest funding round garnered heightened attention in business media given the current skyrocketing price of Tesla’s stock, which has equated to a market value in excess of $250 billion, equal to that of other major global auto manufacturers. All of Rivian’s investments to-date have come from private backing.
Supply Chain Matters recently highlighted a report that Tesla has short-listed two potential locations for an additional U.S. manufacturing facility which will among other vehicles, support the production of that company’s Cybertruck.
GE Appliances to Invest $62 Million in Existing U.S. Manufacturing Plant
General Electric Appliances, part of China based Haier, has announced a $62 million investment to expand the company’s existing manufacturing located in Appliance Park complex in Louisville Kentucky.
According to the announcement, a $43 million investment will be used to manufacture GE®, GE Profile™ and Café™ four-door models in the Park’s refrigeration manufacturing plant. The four-door refrigerator — consisting of a traditional French door fresh food area, a freezer and a convertible section that can be used as either a freezer or refrigerator — is the fastest-growing design in high-end refrigeration. The expansion is expected to be complete by the first quarter of 2021.
The investment will include new tooling and equipment for the door and case areas, additional automation and upgrading the plant to use a more environmentally friendly refrigerant that meets the latest environmental standards. This program will increase capacity in the plant, positioning the company to add new jobs and introduce additional models, providing the facility a platform for long-term growth in the industry.
An additional $19 million investment is reportedly designated for new equipment and factory modernization for the Park’s dishwasher manufacturing plant, creating added volume and capacity expansion to support growing demand for dishwashers because of COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers are staying at home more than before and using their appliances more often. Cited is new research indicating that dishwashers are being run more frequently during the pandemic and use of sanitization or high wash temperature cycles are up more than 50 percent; washer and dryer use is up 25 percent, and the sanitization cycle on washers is up 85 percent.
In June of last year, Supply Chain Matters highlighted the opening of a new GE Appliances Area Distribution Center (ADC) located in Commerce Georgia as a result of a $55 million investment. The termed “smart warehouse” was billed an addition to the company’s $150 million national investment to expand its distribution network. The new Columbus Center is noted as the first to blend digital intelligence and predictive analytics with agility, providing GEA’s collective distribution network the ability to provide a Digital Thread to all finished goods material movement all the way to the customer.
Fictiv Announces Agile 3D Printing collaboration with Jabil
Digital manufacturing ecosystem company Fictiv announced what has been described as a new industry-first collaboration that makes Jabil Inc. a global based contract manufacturing services provider, a key part of its global manufacturing network to connect and streamline 3D-print prototyping through to mass-scale production using an innovative digital thread. Designed to de-risk and streamline the supply chain through quality, speed, transparency, and flexibility, the thread ensures a supported customer experience from quote to completion.
This collaboration reportedly extends bilaterally, providing customers of both companies with critical market advantages. Fictiv Global Manufacturing Ecosystem customers, from startups to global OEMs, can access the global 3D printing capabilities of Jabil through a single digital thread. Beyond the 3D printing of parts, Jabil can further leverage Fictiv’s precision service model to offer volume manufacturing, data, packaging and on-time fulfilment to end-customers with less risk.
The goal of this collaboration to add speed and agility to the manufacturing supply chain to enable new product introduction without the risk.
In a separate announcement at the end of June, Jabil announced plans to utilize its existing U.S. production facilities into the production of protective face masks. The contract manufacturing firm is working om plans to produce upwards of one million masks daily facilities in Illinois, Massachusetts and Illinois, with a combined capacity to produce more than 2 billion masks annually. The CMS provider began producing masks in March at its facilities in China in order to protect its own workers. Since that time, there have reportedly been multiple requests for added supplies including across the U.S.. Production will be performed in automated production lines utilizing available capacity.
The timing of this announcement comes in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, where many manufacturing, services providers and other firms have demonstrated incredible innovation in the rapid design, prototyping and printing of needed healthcare delivery and protection supplies.
Oracle Announces Upgrades to Oracle Cloud SCM
To help customers address the challenges presented by widespread supply disruptions, market volatility, shifting global trade patterns, and changing customer expectations, Oracle, Inc. announced this week that the enterprise and ERP technology provider been hard at work on the latest updates to Oracle Fusion Cloud Supply Chain & Manufacturing (Oracle Cloud SCM).
Applications and business supports upgraded in the latest quarterly release include Replenishment Planning, Backlog Management, Depot Repair, Project-Driven Supply Chain and Channel Revenue Management.
Oracle Senior Vice President, Applications Development, Rick Jewell, indicated in the announcement that global supply chains have undergone a massive stress test in 2020, which is likely to continue: “While my team is acutely aware there is no magic wand to eliminate the supply chain challenges organizations are facing, the new updates will provide crucial insights needed to create efficient and resilient supply networks. And regardless of what comes next, we’re fully committed to helping our customers and partners reimagine their supply chains to return to business growth.”
In a separate announcement, Oracle reported that the company has been named the sole Leader in Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant for Cloud ERP for Product-Centric Enterprises report for the second consecutive time. Reportedly, Gartner evaluated nine ERP market offerings, again recognizing Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) as the only leader based on its ability to execute and completeness of vision.
Manufacturer’s Investing in Digital Technology
The Wall Street Journal’s CFO Journal reported this week that while manufacturer’s for the most part have scaled back spending on large projects during the ongoing global economic setbacks brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, they are continuing with software upgrades and needed technology initiatives.
While many pandemic disrupted companies are cutting expenses to preserve cash and liquidity, the report notes that spending on digital and technology projects has been spared up to this point. Technology spending is reportedly expected to increase in the second half of this year and many manufacturers are reportedly doing so to increase productivity and to prepare for an eventual rebound in activity.
This concludes our latest edition of This Week in Supply Chain Management Tech.
An Added Note to Readers– Supply Chain Matters will feature our capsule views of This Week in Supply Chain Tech highlight series periodically as announcements warrant.