globalEDGE Blog

The latest segments from the globalEDGE Business Beat take a look at a new business trade book, Second Shift: The Inside Story of the Keep GM Movement. Tomas Hult, along with David Hollister, Ray Tadgerson, and David Closs, wrote the book detailing how Lansing, Michigan was able to save its auto plant from closing. The six new segments from the Business Beat feature Tomas Hult discussing the book and accompanying film with each of the co-authors, examining how the Second Shift Model was successful and pointing out key takeaways for others in the business world.

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File under: Europe, Immigration, Labor

The world is facing its worst refugee crisis since World War II. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNCR), there are 21.3 million refugees across the globe. A vast majority of these refugees come from Africa and the Middle East, with Syrians accounting for nearly one-fourth of the total refugee population. Many of these refugees are flocking to the nation of Turkey, which is currently playing host to 2.5 million refugees, nearly one million more than any other nation. These refugees flock to Turkey with the hope of eventually journeying to the developed economies of Europe.

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In the age of information, the mind-boggling amount of data available at our fingertips can seem daunting. Yet, handled in an efficient manner, it can also be immensely useful. Big Data—referring to the use of nontraditional analytics to examine vast amounts of data—has become an increasingly important part of the business landscape. Over the past few years, several prominent corporations have invested in Big Data analytics and are incorporating them into their business strategies—UPS ostensibly spends $1 billion a year on Big Data analysis strategies. Specifically, many are looking at Big Data as a way to further optimize logistics and increase efficiency of commerce. Those who currently utilize Big Data analysis find it essential, warning that other companies who do not adapt to the technology may find themselves left behind.

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E-commerce has become more and more popular, but some warehouses cannot keep up with the consumer expectation of instant gratification. Online shopping gives consumers the idea that if something is purchased over the internet, it should be delivered quickly and efficiently. Many facilities are still using the man-to-goods model, where the employee goes throughout the warehouse looking for the item(s) purchased by the consumer. Companies like inVia Robotics are changing that.

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Research conducted by Goldman Sachs predicts that the global commercial drone market is expected to grow to $20.6 billion USD and the compound annual growth rate is supposed to grow by 41% from 2016-2021. In North America alone, the industry is forecast to have 1.4 million commercial drones in use by 2025. 

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With all the growth in the logistics industries, “several companies are racing to develop airships they hope will transform air travel.” Amazon, for example, has struggled keeping up with the high demand, especially with Prime members who get free two day shipping. Using airplanes to transport items will significantly increase the company’s shipping speed and help Amazon continue to grow.

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Disruptions in supply chains are unwanted, but can sometimes be unavoidable. New technology introduced to logistics functions has helped to lessen these disruptions, increase efficiency and responsiveness, and also meet the ever-growing expectations of customers. Since the affordability of these technologies has also increased, they are becoming more and more available to companies wishing to improve their logistics functions. Experts anticipate that over the next few years, the Transportation Management System (TMS) will become more heavily used, autonomous vehicles and drones will increase, and the use of robots will also increase.

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China has gained a valuable foothold in the nuclear energy industry as Britain’s new Prime Minister has given the green light for a power plant to be built in Hinkley, England. The project is worth a reported $24 billion and has many people worried about the economic ramifications of allowing China and France to fund this large scale project on English soil. “In response, the U.K. has set out new restrictions on the project's builders, saying the companies would not be able to sell their stakes in the plant without prior approval from the government. Going forward, the British government will take a stake in all nuclear power projects, giving it control over a change of ownership.” (CNN) The restrictions that the UK has put on this project eases the fears of many, but some still are worried over the consequences of this act.

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File under: European Union, Taxes

The European Union (EU) is working strenuously to stop giant American companies from avoiding taxes in its region. EU regulators have been studying tax arrangements between its member countries and US companies such as Apple, Amazon, Google, and McDonald’s. Just last week, the European Commission (EC) ruled that Apple owes Ireland €13 billion ($14.6 billion) in back taxes.

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Venezuela has one of the largest oil supplies in the world, and oil serves as the primary source of income for Venezuela’s economy. The large drop in prices has severely hampered its ability to import products, and has prompted a rapid rise in inflation. The IMF is forecasting that inflation will hit 700% by year end 2016, compared to the Venezuelan government’s forecast of a 180% increase in inflation.

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