Fingerlings – the miniature monkey toy best seller during the 2017 Holiday season

An article in BBC.COM ( describes the Fingerling – an animatronic toy made by a Hong Kong based Canadian company, WowWee. The article describes the early launch in the UK and Canada, and an internet buzz on social media that preceded the US launch in August, as stoking the demand explosion in the US. Expansion of production capacity, air lifting product to speed up availability, actions against counterfeiters and modest selling retail prices of around $15 all caused supply chain challenges. Should the company raise prices to moderate demand or let the price increase in after market channels enable the continued product demand buzz ? What can the company do to keep the demand growing into next season – add new animals or develop digital platforms to interact with the physical toys ? What should stores do to position themselves to have access to inventory of the hit toy each holiday season ?

Posted in Capacity, consumer, Cost, delivery, manufacturer, mgmt5612018, Operations Management, ordering, Prices, Supply Chain Issues, transport | Tagged , , , , , | 65 Comments

Clothing related waste and possible solutions

A report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation ( describes the global clothing sales increasing from 50 billion units in 2000 to 100 billion units in 2015 while the number of times clothese were worn on average before being discarded decreasing by 36% during the same period. The report claims a less than 1% recycle rate of clothing and suggests a greenhouse gas impact that is greater than international flights and maritime shipping. Is fast fashion, where there is an interest in following short term trends, the reason for such an impact ? Should consumers be charged for the environmental impact of their clothing or should this be the responsibility of the producers to take back used clothing ? Should manufacturers be provided explicit incentives to reuse clothing fibres from used clothing or should this be based on self interest to reduce costs ? Is there a need for governments to enable coordination to create a circular economy for clothing ?

Posted in Air, Capacity, Collaboration, consumer, Operations Management, Supply Chain Issues, Sustainability | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

MicroHospitals and fast service by St Vincent in Indiana

An article in IndyStar ( describes a micro-hospital by St Vincent in Noblesville, Indiana. These micro-hospitals are around 60,000 sq ft, cost $12 million, have seven emergency rooms including one for trauma, four in patient rooms and eight overnight beds. The goal is to get customers to the emergency rooms within 3 to 5 minutes, and seen within 15 minutes. The ideal time from dock back to door – turnaround time for patients is claimed to be 15 minutes. With a small staff (one nurse, a paramedic, an emergency room physician) these micro-hospitals are intended to provide the quick response patients demand.  These hospitals are also expected to avail of telemedicine tools to consult with specialists. Will such smaller facilities  replace the large hospital models in use currently? Will hospitals evolve into a hub and spoke system with the spokes being represented by these smaller hospitals that will feed only the more complicated cases to the large hospitals ? How will hospitals ensure adequate capacity utilization to make these micro-hospitals sustainable ?

Posted in Capacity, congestion, consumer, emb2019, hospital, imm2018, logistics, Service Operations, technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 38 Comments

Ecommerce custom furniture by MaidenHome

An ecommerce company ( offers customizable furniture, free delivery within six weeks, lifetime warranty, 30 day money back guarantee and prices around $2000 for furniture that would otherwise cost $6000.  They claim that working directly with craftsmen in North Carolina enables them to reduce costs and delivery times.  But given that customers have the flexibility to return items that they designed, which they may then not like, does this represent a significant business risk ?  To ensure that capacity utilization at the manufacturers is appropriate, what should the company do to generate demand at a steady rate from customers ? What other products have such a large price difference i.e., $2000 for direct sourcing vs $ 6000 for the traditional supply chain ?

Posted in Capacity, consumer, Cost, delivery, Ecommerce, emb2019, imm2018, logistics, Made in USA, manufacturer, Operations Management, Supply Chain Issues, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 32 Comments

The Jones Act and Puerto Rico relief delivery costs

An article in the Wall Street Journal (September 26,2017) titled “Second-Class Puerto Rico” claims that given the Jones Act (which requires “use of vessels built, majority owned and operated by Americans” to transport between US ports i.e., US to Puerto Rico) the cost to ship from the US East Coast to Puerto Rico is twice that to ship to nearby  Dominican Republic.  The US administration has refused to waive the Jones Act for hurricane relief, thus adding to the cost of providing aid to assist the island.  Should waiving the Jones Act be a priority to offer cost effective relief from the US, or should one expect relief goods to be routed through another non-US location to be cost effective albeit taking longer ? Will the existence of the Jones Act hurt US manufacturers wanting to supply to Puerto Rico and instead provide incentives for manufacturers in other countries ?

Posted in Capacity, Cost, logistics, Made in USA, manufacturer, Operations Management, ship, Supply Chain Issues, transport | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Not enough new iPhones, strategy or supply chain challenge?

An article in the Wall Street Journal titled “Why There Are Never Enough New iPhones” (September 18, 2017) describes the new iPhones launched in September 2017 as being available only in November, with possible delivery delays. The introduction if many models, with significantly different price points, complicates forecasting demand. The tweaking of design details by Apple, Just-in-Time manufacturing, a complex parts supply chain, just one supplier of the new OLED screens, competitor Samsung’s independent division, add to challenges. Is the delay period, when customers preorder, a strategic choice to improve demand forecasts? Will Apple’s financial forecasts, that are in advance of sales, a reason to be conservative in providing suppliers with orders? Should Apple release its products in versions rather than tweaking designs until the last minute?

Posted in Capacity, competitiveness, consumer, emb2019, imm2018, Innovation, logistics, Operations Management, Supply Chain Issues | Tagged , , , , , | 93 Comments

Logistics for Houston residents – should evacuate, or stay, have been the strategy ?

An article in ( describes the decision made by the Mayor of Houston to request that the 6.5 million residents stay in their houses during Hurricane Harvey’s touchdown, rather than evacuate, and be potentially stuck on roads due to congestion. After touchdown, displaced residents are being directed to “lilypads” – centralized locations they can get help. But several are stuck in their homes due to the massive flooding of the city.  Is staying put during a hurricane the best strategy, or should people have been asked to come to distributed locations for help, or evacuate early ? Should coordination of the evacuation have been planned to reduce congestion, with approved destinations outside the city ?  Was the decision the result of inconsistent planning or calculated risk ?

Posted in Capacity, congestion, emb2019, imm2018, Liability, logistics, Supply Chain Issues, transport | Tagged , , , , , , , | 49 Comments