Critical Aircraft Planning Shortfall

An example of a vehicle/piece of equipment that required center of balance
An example of a vehicle/piece of equipment that required center of balance


For three years I worked in the logistics field in and around Jacksonville, North Carolina. I did logistical planning and execution of aircraft for both passengers and vital air cargo that needed to get transported overseas. I had completed extensive amounts of paperwork that had to get done in the preparation for the movements, particularly inspections of the cargo for banned/hazardous materials. Hazardous material needed to be properly documents, packaged, labeled, and then inspected in order for me to sign off on it, which then held me liable if anything had happened with the cargo on the aircraft.

As part of the cargo, vehicles also needed to get loaded onto cargo aircraft. Vehicles were a challenge because they had to be calculated for center of balance and based on that measurement a load plan would be created for the aircraft. If anyone is not familiar, the center of balance is the point at which a vehicle would remain in equilibrium, or balanced on both sides. This was an important part of loading vehicles – to heavy of an axle towards the front or back of the aircraft and not enough weight on the other side could be disastrous.

In an attempt to cut costs and save time, the management at our office decided to invest in a weigh-in-motion scale. This system was outfitted with four scales and a laser system. When a vehicle was driven over the scales, it would automatically take the weight of each individual axle (similar to a highway truck weigh station) and the lasers would capture the exact dimensions. This information is then transferred to the computer and printed out a center of balance ticket which was used in planning the aircraft configuration.

A very simple process, with one major flaw. The system was a mobile unit on a trailer and had to be packed after every use. Due to this it took a little over an hour (and a small team of people) to set it up and get everything calibrated correctly. There was a team of only three of us that were initially trained and knew how to properly work this system, which is plenty knowing that once it is set up the system is extremely easy to use. What the management did not think of is that we were on a constant rotation cycle, moving from city to city or state to state every couple years. With this high turn-around there was no planned way for anyone to pass on the knowledge about the system and how it works. The system has now been sitting idle for over a year. It is a shame to know that such an expensive, valuable system is not being used because the proper training did not occur to get people up to speed. A good idea on paper, but the needs of the workers at the terminal must be considered.

As management, would be your solution to create a smoother transition into this system?



Chocolate: The Road to Luxury


For all of you chocolate lovers out there beware: there may be a flaw in Western chocolate manufacturers’ supply chain management of cocoa. Productivity is not at the levels it needs to be to satisfy manufacturers and consumers. To better put this into perspective, Mars has found that if the levels of productivity remain the same as today, by the year 2020 there would be a shortage of 1.1 million tons of cocoa. If this occurs and current productivity levels of cocoa trended into the future, the cocoa farming business will not be headed in a promising direction.

The disconnect lies within cocoa faming itself. There is little incentive for cocoa farmers to continue in their line of work because of the competitive rubber industry. It is considered a less uncertain industry with a longer crop season by about four months. On top of this, the wage for both types of farming is roughly the same.

The other constraint of the industry is the high risk for disease outbursts. This is partly due to the inadequate access of much needed fertilizers for the cocoa crop.

Cocoa-farmers do not come anywhere near the crop’s capacity since their utilization is only around 60%. Cocoa manufactures have recognized the scarcity as a sincere problem since in many growing areas more than 40% of the cocoa crop is destroyed due to vermin and disease.  One would hope that this type of scarcity could be due to assignable variation that can be improved by subtracting bad causes.

How would you react if chocolate turned into a luxury good instead of an affordable snack due to flaws in the supply chain management?

Chocolate manufacturers are looking to provide solutions for productivity in the cocoa-farming realm. Many companies like Mondelez and Mars have invested millions in education programs in hopes to increase productivity and decrease disease-ridden crop. Mondelez has gone as far as hiring students from universities for these cocoa programs to target efforts toward younger generations. This seems to be an efficient approach, given the fact that peer motivation is a convincing form of motivation.

Another potential solution was Ivory Coast’s decision to set a price minimum for cocoa. This was an astonishing action that stresses how essential cocoa farmers are in the industry.

It is hard to believe that the issue has gone this far. In my opinion, action should have been taken much sooner. The uphill battle is much worse now that efficiency levels have sunk so far below maximum capacity.

Do you think that these efforts put forth by chocolate manufacturers will be enough to save the chocolate industry?

What else can be done to improve the supply chain management and productivity in the industry?

Have you noticed any other flaws in the cocoa/chocolate industry besides the supply chain management?

Which action will have a greater affect on the industry: a price minimum or cocoa farming education programs?


Should GMO Foods be Labeled?


People should know where there food comes from right? Or should they just accept the food that is given to them at their local grocery store or big chain store? I mean after all food is something that your body uses to provide nutrients to your body. Wouldn’t you want to know if the food you were used to was altered in any sort of way. With Monsanto and their GM Crops (Genetically Modified Crops) , which are crops that have been genetically altered by engineering techniques, such as corn or soybeans could be provided to you without you being aware that they are genetically altered and not the original crops that grow from the earth.

Monsanto claims that the Genetically Modified Crops are safe, but how are we to know for sure, but isn’t that what tobacco companies told us about cigarette smoking back in the 40’s and 50’s. Now after years of testing we know cigarette smoking is closely linked to forms of cancer especially of the lungs. Whose not to say in the future that GMO Crops will be closely linked to some disorder or disease. GMO’s have been around for about approxiametly 16 years, with heavy long term research being done mainly by Monsanto, whose research shows that they are safe.

There have been other research that says otherwise, such as research done by Michael Antoniou of Earth Open Source and Dr. Giles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caan in France.  Their research states that glyphosate and 2-4-D found in the GMO’s pesticides create  lots of health problems such as birth defects, neurological imbalances, cancers, embryonic deaths, and DNA damage.

Monsanto states they are opposed to current initiative to mandate labeling of ingredients developed from Genetically Modified seeds in the absence of any demonstrated risks because such mandatory labeling could imply that food products containing these ingredients are somehow inferior to their conventional or organic counterparts. Mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods and organisms in the United States has been proposed but not been made into a bill or law on the national level. Many countries have actually banned Genetically Modified Organisms such as Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Madeira, New Zealand, Peru, and South Australia.

I mean what was wrong with the way these crops were naturally created in the first place. Either, consumers should have the option of knowing whether their crops were genetically modified or not, in the same way there are standards on whether stuff is organic or if an product doesn’t contain gluten.

So do you think that products should be labeled GMO or not? What are your thoughts about Genetically Modified Crops in general?



Retail to E-tail

There are a lot of pros and cons to doing online shopping as opposed to in-store shopping. Online shopping seems like it only affects consumers by giving them a different medium to make their purchases but we fail to realize that it affects the sellers as well. Through online purchases, businesses gather a lot of data about consumers. Sellers can track which sections of items are the most popular, which products are the most viewed and for how long, and which products are most browsed at but not bought. This gives online sellers a competitive advantage over in-store sellers as they know more about their customers. And everyone knows that the understanding your customer is one of the most important factors in having a successful business. This is empowering in-store sellers to seek e-commerce level data.

The article talks about one company that brings customer tracking data to in-store businesses. This is in hopes of slowly bridging the competitive gap between in-store purchases and online purchases. How can they possibly get consumer data without changing the in-store purchase process? By simply observing the customers! Prism Skylabs specializes in in-store surveillance equipment that tracks customer movement. Prism installs special cameras that captures everything in the store and then is sent to the store’s computers where it is processed by Prism’s special software. The images of the actual shoppers are cut out to respect their privacy.

What is so different about Prism’s techniques than regular surveillance cameras? Prism’s software allows them to “look at which products are hot, which are being moved around and touched, and all kinds of data that allow merchandise teams to understand what is going on across a wide range of stores”. This allows the sellers to get information that the type of information that online sellers use to enhance their systems to get more purchases.

Who is using Prism? Right now, Prism has partnered up with 30 retailers. Retailers that Prism is working with include T-Mobile and Famous Footwear. Does it actually work?  A candy store in Oklahoma City was using Prism in their stores and after close observation they changed their premium display to low-selling seasonal candy rather than their famous candies that buyers usually take the time to look through the store to buy. This allowed the store to quantify the customer’s thoughts and make an effective decision in their operations.

Moreover, Prism is not the only data providing company that is emerging. Other companies are picking up on the importance and building unique strategies and techniques to sell to businesses. For example, Shopkick is an app which personalizes deals for a customer in real time as they walk through the store.

Is it worth it to sellers to invest in these data gathering companies?

How do you feel as a consumer towards this type of innovation? Do you feel that you will be making more beneficial purchases or do you feel manipulated by the sellers to buy their preferred products?


New Technology in the Workplace


How satisfied would you be if you compared the time you spend being productive on the computer to the time you spend distracted on the Internet or other computer programs? Auto-analytics is new technology that allows individuals to track daily activities and collect data. The technology can be especially beneficial if used in the workplace. After analyzing and collecting data, the employee can use it to improve his or her performance at work. This technology ranges from computer software and smartphone applications to wearable gadgets. The information gained from this technology gives employees insight on the factors that affect their productivity at work.

Auto-analytics are being used more frequently in the workplace. For example, a software called RescueTime can measure how much time you spend on a window on your computer and how long you are idle. The collection of data is then transformed into charts, so that you can readily see your productivity. The software also allows you to set alerts to help you stay on task. An employee, a programmer, believed chatting online was distracting him during work. The employee looked at how much time he spent chatting online during certain times and then looked at how much coding he wrote during that period. He found that the more he chatted online, the more coding he wrote. Chatting with colleagues actually increased his productivity, which he may not have known without using this technology.

Another program is called Luminosity, an online system that has games employees can play during their free time at work. The games can improve memory, thinking speed, and improve problem solving. Employees can play games that focus on specific skills or abilities that they believe need improvement.

Wave2 is a tool that monitors your pulse. Employees can use this to see what situations cause anxiety and increase their heart rate. The program can also recommend ways of reducing stress and anxiety, such as breathing exercises that can reduce heart rate during stressful situations.

Although these programs can be beneficial in a work setting, as mentioned by Wilson, “many workers might be reluctant to track what they do if they think the company might get access to the information, or use it against them.” Management can emphasize that the software often has privacy controls. Employees may also be more likely to use the new programs if they understand that it is intended for personal use and may not be monitored by the company.

Companies can increase job performance if employees track their own activities at work. Because of this, management should encourage the use of the programs, so that employees can willingly experiment with the program and improve their performance. Demanding the use of tracking may discourage employees and seem invasive. Ideally, management encouraging the use of the software would cause a desire in the employees to measure and improve their individual performance.

Would you be willing to track your activities using these new programs? Do you think many employees would be reluctant to try it? Do you think these programs will significantly improve job performance?


Source: Employees, Measure Yourselves

Tweet Equity: Social Media in the Workplace Boosts Productivity

Over the past decade, social media has become a hallmark in the realm of communication. Not only has it re-shaped the way in which communication functions on a social level, social media has taken on a new role in the workplace. Social media usage in the office is no longer seen as a distraction for workers and has become a new tool towards productivity and engagement. Instead, these companies have adopted an embracing attitude towards it and have incorporated it into company culture and everyday office life.

To prove this argument, a study was conducted at by Joe Nandhakumar, professor of information systems at the Warwick Business School in the United Kingdom. Over the span of two years, the study monitored the productivity levels at a well-established European telecommunications company that practiced policies that encouraged social media use in the workplace. The results of the study show a clear rise in productivity. This rise can be contributed through the employees’ ability to respond to client and customer concerns in a quick manner, through the use of social outlets and networks such as Facebook or Twitter. Employees were also able to use these outlets to pitch products and ideas and close sales. Nandhakumar also noted that social media allowed for heightened collaboration amongst employees, both within the office and in other locations that may be farther away.

This embrace of social media within the workplace is a major indicator of the definitive changes in corporate culture and the face of business in 2013. Social media has the ability to allow a company to build a distinct culture and identity. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ allows businesses to grow a public presence and allow fast and direct communication with its customer base, clients, current and potential employees, and any other interested user. Social media also changes the way in which employees communicate with each other and management. In a time where telecommuting is a very common practice at most companies, networks such as Skype or Google (Hangouts) make it possible to have quick meetings without the need to physically be in the same place. Not only does this boost productivity and cuts down on time, this also has the potential to cut down on travel expenses for companies, since they are afforded with the convenience of virtually conducting a meeting absolutely anywhere. Skype and other video chat outlets have also become commonly used in job interviews, saving time and money for both the employer and the potential employee.

The topic of social media usage in the workplace very distinctly paints a picture of the how business is conducted in 2013. There is an immense embrace of transparency in business that allows for collaboration, growth, and innovation. The corporate use of social media has opened the conversation on many levels.

How do you think the relationship between business and social media will expand in the future?


Go Ahead, Drink on the Job!

Many companies would frown upon an employee enjoying a drink during the workday but The Life is Good Company would beg to differ. The Life is Good Company is a Boston-based apparel and accessories brand that aims to be unique and fresh. They have focused their efforts on improving employee productivity in a totally new way. No they didn’t try a cash incentive program, prizes, or extra vacation days, they thought having a tavern in the office would increase productivity.

The Life is Good Company is in the process of installing a tavern in the middle of their office. The tavern will include a stage, to host live music, shuffleboard, billiards, and a basketball hoop with enough space to hold at least 260 people.  They want to have a comfortable place where employees can “put their feet up and relax” while doing their work. Hungry? Grab a booth, food, and hold an informal meeting. The boss says it’s okay.

The Life is Good Company isn’t promoting people to be drunk, driving while drunk, or alcoholism. They just want their employees to be comfortable and productive at work. They would even say having a tavern is appropriate to their brand. Most of The Life is Good Company employees often grab a drink after work, so why not let them do it at the office?

An area The Life if Good Company is trying to improve might just the area that disappears. The book states that labor productivity will increase due to “healthier, better-educated, and better nourished labor force” and poor diets are a major downfall to productivity. Having a glass of red wine a few times a week is good for your diet but will these people really be drinking red wine? Beer and hard liquor are not conducive to a healthy diet. Having a tavern in the office will encourage people to drink. Many people are social drinkers. Having a bar will distract people from working and increase socialization. Product organization may suffer because it requires management and attention.

The operations management team is not being socially responsible or ethical. The workplace has the potential to be a harmful environment to co-workers and prospective business partners. The ability to measure productivity will be increasingly hard as more employees spend time in the tavern.

Another area that could see a decline in growth is quality management. The increase in alcohol could lead to a decrease in quality. The product could suffer because a questionable product could be produced. Many people who drink think certain ideas are better than others maybe that is why a tavern is being installed at The Life is Good Company.

Do you think having a tavern in the office will increase productivity? Is having a tavern in the office ethical and socially responsible? What possible management issues will the Life is Good Company run into because of having a tavern in the office? Can a tavern in the office have a positive influence on the company’s brand image?


Why I’m Building An Tavern at the Office :

Is Outsourcing Really Decreasing Americans’ Jobs?

Over the last few years, the United States once hit rock bottom and suffered major economic difficulties forcing people to lose their homes and jobs. However very few companies did not feel the economic crisis due to outsourcing. The term outsourcing basically means a organizaton, business, and/or services no longer perform their business “in house”. The service, organization, and/or business is now located outside of those places. Companies usually transition to outsourcing to save money and/or to lessen the burden on having to pay United States taxes. What do I mean by saying companies wanting to save money by outsourcing? Paying wages here in the United States is very expensive compared to paying individuals overseas. For example, the state of Illinois minimum wage is currently $8.25, maybe even more for someone working in a manufacturer, however the same work that someone else is doing is payed about $5.00 for the same work and maybe even more labor than the United States worker. This differences can save major companies money and for this very reason is why most of them are starting to outsouce. One major company that I am sure everyone is familiar with is Apple. As you all know Apple have been around for many years in which making products such as iphones, computers, laptops, ipods, and so much more. Controversy have been spoken lately on how their workers that are producing these proudcts are working in poor conditions and are getting paid very little money. However recent articles have stated that ‘Cheap labor is not the only reason why they decide to outsouce. An article that was done by Casey Chan, mentioned that China(where Apple’s factory is located) has higher qualified engineers than the United States, futhermore China’s workers and factories are better than the United States. Taking those reasons into consideration as to why Apple choose to outsource, can you really blame this company for wanting better qualified engineers and/or wanting to better their company so they can continue to produce some of the best technology that almost every American has once purchased? Another problem that arise from oursourcing are the individauls that are layed-off due to the fact that factory jobs were starting to transition to outsourcing. The problem increasing because majority of factory jobs require very minimum training to get the job, but once a person is hired for the job, proper training takes place for that person to get the job down. On the other hand, once those same individals who were layed off trying to find a job can be extreme diffcult, which then those same individuals can not purchase as much goods and service anymore, which then are forcing these companies to outsource to save money and or break even for their services or products. Chapter 2 demeostrates reaons why “outsouring” or global is good. One reason was the it can increase strategies and assessment in a given country. Learning from other countries can greatly help others gain knowlege to increase their businesses and/or services.

Outsourcing will always remain. How do you feel about outsourcing? Does it really dismiss jobs or increase opportunities? and…/why-apple-doesnt-make-the-iphone-in-america

Goodbye Small Business?

Small businesses in the United States have it bad. This is true because of too much regulation, high taxes, and now an increase in minimum wage.

So many rules and regulations exist its hard to keep up with the sheer volume of it all. With over 160,000 pages of rules, small businesses are having a hard time making sense of what is right and wrong. Alison Fraser, Director of the Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, says this is “a regulatory assault on our system of free enterprise and on our job creators” and I have to agree (1). The only people who will be able to withstand and flourish alongside more regulation are big businesses. This is because they have the capital, resources, and power to manage operations according to any new rule the government spits out. In comparison, small businesses will be scrambling to make ends meet.

What’s worse is that the United States also has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. At a rate of 35%, corporations of all sizes are suffering. Corporate taxes consume the part of revenue that  could otherwise be spent on research and development, more efficient technology, and on job creation. In direct relation to operations management, Laura Tyson, a contributer to Business Insider, says that “corporate-tax expenditures narrow the base, raise the cost of tax compliance, and distort decisions about investment projects, how to finance them, what form of business organization to adopt, and where to produce” (2). And when project costs go up, the burden indirectly falls on consumers and shareholders: “American workers, consumers and shareholders bear the greatest part of the cost of higher corporate rates and a complex tax system because it ultimately can raise product prices and lower investment and growth in the United States” (3).

Finally, on February 12, 2013, President Obama asked Congress to increase minimum wage to $9. This proposal sparked negative outcries from all across the country because at a time when people are asking, ‘Where are the jobs?’ why would you want to make it harder for small employers to hire people? (4). Raising the minimum wage simply reduces the availability of entry-level positions across all industries. “The minimum wage is a learning wage, the first rung on many workers’ career ladders. A higher minimum wage saws off this rung” (4). By raising the minimum wage, high school students, college students, and disadvantaged adults will suffer not only monetarily, but also they will have less chances of learning valuable disciplines like getting to work on time and  interacting with customers. This can only negatively impact future business environments.

All in all, we can conclude that our current government is slow at trying to build a better foundation for small businesses. If they cannot act more quickly, the economy’s recovery will stall and there will be increasingly less work and productivity in America.


Works Cited





Nissan Weighs it’s Options: New Infiniti Plant in North America?

Nissan Motor Company is considering opening a new Infiniti manufacturing plant to produce it’s vehicles in North America. Nissan’s  Infiniti production, with the exception of one model, is done entirely in Japan. However, it seems the company has a lot to gain from expanding it’s manufacturing facilities into North America.

One of the key reasons for this expansion is to avoid losing money from the cost of changing currency. According to the article, “A strong yen hurts the price competitiveness of Japanese exports and reduces the value of profits earned abroad when they are returned home.” The additional revenues generated could be used to provide a lower price on Infiniti vehicles or fund the investment of the new factory.

Another reason a new plant would be beneficial is because it would allow the sharing of resources with existing Nissan operations in North America. This would shorten the supply chain for many essential components including core vehicle parts. A shorter supply chain can increase the speed of production as well as decrease costs of shipping parts.

Lastly, producing Infiniti vehicles close to where they will be sold will decrease transportation costs. The article didn’t state any information regarding the amount of these transportation costs. However, they are likely quite expensive due to the large distance between the United States and China. Although shipping by water is relatively inexpensive, it is also the slowest form of transportation. A plant in North America would allow many alternatives such as railroads and trucks.

Because of these reasons, Infiniti Motor Co. President Johan de Nysschen is currently debating the possibility of opening a plant in the United States, Canada, or Mexico. The new plant is expected to produce over 100,000 Infiniti vehicles per year. According to the article, the cost of a new plant will be approximately 2 billion dollars. It is also possible to add Infiniti capacity to an existing Nissan plant for approximately half the price. Alternatively, an investment into Chinese Nissan plant  to add Infiniti capacity will only cost 323 million.

Although the Chinese plant would be a much cheaper investment, it probably isn’t the best option. Last year, Infiniti only sold about 11,000 to 12,000 cars in China, while 119,877 cars were sold in the United States. Although sales in China are expected to rise to 15,000 to 16,000 vehicles this year, this amount is nothing compared to the sales in the U.S. Since nearly 70% of last years sales were in the U.S., it seems North America would be an ideal location for the new factory.

What do you think is the best investment for Nissan to pursue? Should they open a new factory to increase productivity? If not, what would you suggest they invest their money in?