Friday, June 30, 2006
Honda Hearts Hoosiers: How Indiana Wooed the Automaker to Decatur County
After weeks of fevered proposal-slinging, Honda announced on Wednesday that its sixth North American factory will be built in
In spite of Honda’s decision to pick
Related: Honda Indiana Plant Fact Sheet (WISH TV, Indiana)
Thursday, June 29, 2006
A Half-Century of Highways
The Federal Highway Administration has been marking the anniversary all year with events and special articles on its website, including this compilation of road songs (your tax dollars at work). We’re marking the anniversary by…um, mentioning it, and by noting some important transport and energy related stories in the news.
1. Ethanol, ethanol, ethanol! The
2. Logistics Today has the dirt on a new hydraulic hybrid vehicle designed for delivery routes. It has a super-efficient diesel engine coupled with hydraulic pumps and storage tanks that store energy. Its fuel efficiency is 60-70% better than that of a standard delivery truck and it emits 40% less carbon dioxide. UPS is testing it in
3. The House of Representatives will vote on the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act (DOER) as early as today. This bill would allow off-shore drilling to tap into the
4. In September, Ford set a goal to start pumping out 250,000 hybrid engine vehicles (read: gasoline-electric) per annum by the year 2010. Today they’ve announced that’s not going to happen; the automaker, along with DaimlerChrysler and GM, has decided to focus on flex-fuel vehicles instead.
Don’t Be Such A Stranger
In a volatile raw materials market, re-evaluating sourcing strategies may be the key to salvaging the bottom line. Expect to see more of your purchasing agent.
Early this morning Tokyo stocks fell based on fears that manufacturers’ bottom lines are being spanked by dramatically spiking costs for raw materials and other commodities (a barrel of crude oil fetches $72 as of yesterday). Procurement boffins forecast a 9% rise in the overall cost of raw materials for 2006, but by spring it was pretty clear they’d have to revise that upwards—in April, according to Purchasing.com, the cost of raw materials had already risen 10%. Costs have continued climbing since then, and are affecting everyone from packaging manufacturers to the makers of batteries. Chemicals, lumber, metals, rubber, paper—nearly everything used to make anything has risen in cost.
What can procurement agents do to make sure they’re getting the best value per spend dollar? According to a recent Aberdeen Group report, “The Direct Materials Sourcing Benchmark Report”, (PDF, free registration may be required) communication helps. Re-evaluating sourcing strategies and company needs more frequently can help procurement agents adjust their buying habits in a volatile market. Procurement agents can pick the brains of designers and accounting personnel at their company to determine alternative materials that might not sacrifice quality or to decide on a new source.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Big Steel Gets Bigger Yet: Urge To Merge Creates Biggest Steelmaker by Factor of Three
After a long bitter fight Arcelor and Mittal Steel have finally agreed to terms of a merger, pending approval by Arcelor shareholders. The $34 billion deal was inked on June 25th, and creates a steel fabrication company three times larger than its next biggest rival that will control 10% of the world’s total steel market. Russian steelmaker Severstal was geared up to combine with Arcelor, but had its bid rejected at the last minute in favor of Mittal’s offer. Severstal is most likely going to look for a new acquisition target.
While Europe’s steel companies pair up for summer flings, the US steel industry is concerned about its image. The New York Times reports today about a new multi-million dollar PR blitz commissioned by steel makers aimed at cleaning up the industry’s, um, dirty image. Turns out when most people are asked about the steel industry, they think of 1940s Pittsburgh, PA. As it happens, steelmaking has become an increasingly clean, lean enterprise in the US. The American Iron and Steel Institute is heading up the campaign, and have the ads available on their website.
News Nuggets for the Precaffienated Brain
- Financial analysts everywhere waiting for Fed-a-palooza (interest rate announcement, that is) on June 29th.
: it’s growing, it’s hungry, and it’s churning out wind turbines like nobody’s business. China
- GM employee buyout offer attracts 35,000 takers.
- Bill Gates announces he’s going to concentrate on his charitable foundation, not Microsoft; Warren Buffet promptly doubles size of Gates Foundation with gift big enough to fund Germany’s military for a year.
- Forbes wants to know: are women better entrepreneurs?
- French Prime Minister wants to take over Airbus. Shareholders strangely quiet.
- Major US CEOs earn 262 times their average worker’s pay (the ratio was 300:1 in 2000).