By the end of the year, the three largest automakers in North America will be operating at greater than 100 percent capacity utilization, the Detroit News reports. This is a sign of a major turnaround for the car industry, which three years ago saw facility utilization numbers hovering below 50 percent.
Ford’s utilization currently is highest among the three, as the company’s North American operations are on track to reach 113 percent utilization by year’s end. Meanwhile, General Motors and Chrysler are set to reach levels of 108 and 104 percent, respectively. These figures are based on industry-standard definitions of two eight-hour shifts five days a week, excluding holidays. To attain utilization above 100 percent, managers add work shifts and overtime.
The boom in demand for domestic automobiles is good for workers and shareholders, but it presents challenges, as well. Many of the thousands of new workers on Detroit payrolls have no experience building cars. The demand also is putting strains on parts suppliers. “We’re going to do the same amount of volume [as 2007] with 100,000 fewer supplier jobs,” says Dave Andrea, vice president at the Original Equipment Suppliers Association. This requires “extra resources, extra manpower, and extra effort. Guys are working a lot of Saturday shifts.”
Yet, suppliers are cautious to increase hiring and build additional facilities, as overall recovery in the United States is slow. Additionally, small suppliers are finding it difficult to get the amount of credit from banks they need to step up production. Andrea says that the products and services auto suppliers are struggling to provide include casting, forging, precision-machined components, and stamping.
Patent Suits Big Business in China
Apple faces new lawsuits in China, where Chinese companies accuse the technology giant of infringing on their patents and trademarks, the Washington Post reports. Products targeted in the lawsuits include Siri, the iPhone’s voice-based search assistant, as well as the Snow Leopard operating system.
It’s relatively common to see US firms accusing Chinese manufacturers of copying products, but the reverse situation is evidence of a growing awareness of the value of intellectual property, not only as protection but as a source of revenue. It’s likely that more lawsuits are on the horizon.
Peter Yu is a professor at Drake University Law School and an expert on intellectual property law in China. “Think about a US firm that produces all its products in China,” he says. “If a Chinese firm is able to get an injunction over the production of that US firm, the firm would all of a sudden no longer have any products.”
China is seeing unprecedented levels of patent filing__in 2011, the nation ranked first in domestic patent applications for the first time. However, experts warn that the quality of the patents often is low, giving Chinese firms easy legal ammunition to go after domestic rivals and, increasingly, foreign firms. A recent report by the European Union Chamber of Commerce also called China’s level of innovation “overhyped.” Ma Yide, an intellectual property attorney in Beijing, agrees: “A good patent will reflect its value in its commercialization, not from lawsuits.”
India Mining Oceans for Rare Earths
India is engaging in deep-sea mining for rare-earth elements, the Guardian reports. The country is building a processing facility to harvest the nickel, copper, cobalt, and rare earths that can be found in potato-shaped nodules on the ocean floor of the Central Indian Basin. In addition, India also is investing in exploration of the deep water surrounding its coasts.
These deep-sea efforts “offer a good solution to meeting the nation’s demand for metals,” says C. R. Deepak, head of the deep-sea mining division at the National Institute of Ocean Technology, an Indian government office. The country’s recent push for deep-sea mining reflects concerns that China’s own deep-sea excavations will further increase its dominance over rare earths.
Rare earths are elements such as molybdenum, tellurium, and titanium that are necessary for producing many of today’s high-tech electronics, as well as seeing use in aviation and defense. China controls about 95 percent of global output, and it has been accused of overly restricting exports of the materials. India joins China, Japan, and South Korea in stepping up efforts to retrieve rare earths from the ocean.
2012 APICS International Conference & Expo
October 14–16, 2012
Denver, Colorado, USA
Colorado Convention Center
Registration for the 2012 APICS International Conference & Expo is now open. The conference will be held October 14-16, 2012 in Denver, Colorado, USA. The theme of APICS 2012 is Elevate supply chain performance: Value creation through market alignment and integration.
Visit the APICS 2012 website and register today!
Introducing the APICS Risk Management certificate
APICS now offers a comprehensive, forward-looking program that will prepare you to lead risk management activities or participate in the development of global risk mitigation strategy. The APICS Risk Management certificate validates that you have received 12 educational contact hours in core and elective risk management topics.
Obtain the hours necessary to earn the certificate by attending the Risk Management learning path at the 2012 APICS International Conference & Expo (5 hours) and participating in one of the following to complete the remaining 7 hours
- a combination of risk sessions at future educational events including the APICS International Conference & Expo, APICS Supply Chain Asia Conference, or Best of the Best S&OP Conference
- APICS Risk Management Seminar (7 hours)
- pre-approved risk management education sessions at partner events.
Attend the APICS Risk Management Workshop before APICS 2012
Attend a special risk management workshop on the Friday before APICS 2012 at the conference site and receive seven participation hours. Complete the remaining five hours required to earn the certificate by attending all sessions on the APICS 2012 Risk Management learning path.
Register today. (Note: Registration for this workshop is separate from registration for the 2012 APICS International Conference & Expo)
APICS Principles and Practices of MRP for the Manufacturing Planner seminar
This APICS Principles seminar, presented in collaboration with the APICS Chicago chapter, is designed to assist beginning as well as experienced planners using a material requirements planning (MRP) system to acquire a firm understanding of the principles and functions of MRP.
The seminar includes an in-depth review of the role and activities performed by the MRP planner. Performance measurements used to determine the effectiveness of the MRP in priority management are also discussed.
Friday, September 28 | 8:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. CT
APICS Corporate Office
8430 W Bryn Mawr Avenue, Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60631 USA
Webinars On Demand Available
APICS Extra Live: Creating Strong Relationships Between Manufacturers and Distributors
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APICS Extra Live: Solving Supply Chain Disruptions--Beyond the tactical
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Watch more APICS webinars on demand.
Explore APICS folios
Assess supply chain risk, develop your organization’s supply chain strategy and sustainability, and understand how you can successfully implement or grow your organization’s sales and operational planning process with APICS folios.
$19.95 APICS member - Save 50%
APICS Supply Chain Sustainability Folio: Uncovering the Triple Bottom Line
Supply chain and operations management professionals are increasingly called on to carry the torch of innovation to reduce costs, demands on resources, and waste; while increasing the reuse of existing assets, and enabling lean operations. Employing sustainable practices is critical to meeting these business needs.
APICS Supply Chain Strategy Folio: Make the Most of Supply Chain Strategy
Understand challenges and identify areas where senior management and operations management can work together to maximize the effectiveness of your supply chain strategy. Access this APICS folio to delve into critical supply chain functions and tasks that may not be effectively supporting your supply chain strategy.
APICS Supply Chain Risk Folio: Protect your Business with Risk Management
Mitigate and anticipate supply chain risks at your organization—from rising and falling demand to natural disasters, market uncertainty, and varying levels of trust among supply chain partners. Purchase this APICS folio to identify tools to deal with risk at your organization.
APICS S&OP Folio: How to Be an S&OP Champion
Predicting the future generally is thought impossible; yet, S&OP users seek to do just that by strategically directing businesses to achieve competitive advantage. Purchase this APICS folio to understand how you can enable your organization’s bottom-line effectiveness with S&OP.
Access APICS career development resources
Use APICS career packs to understand your career path and next steps, evaluate candidate qualifications, or establish consistency across your organization's hiring.
Free! APICS member
- Individuals seeking to advance in one of the career pack job title areas can evaluate their knowledge and skills, plan their next steps, and identify areas for improvement and growth.
- Hiring managers seeking qualified candidates can identify specific knowledge, skills, and experience required when evaluating prospective employees and building job descriptions.
- Organizations interested in developing their workforce can create consistency and establish required competencies for individuals in each of the career pack job title areas.
APICS career packs:
For each job title, APICS career packs compile essential information to help you understand the job role, including
- career path information
- core competencies required of qualified candidates
- job descriptions and keywords
- how to use job titles and descriptions.
Download the APICS members-only report 2011 S&OP Practices and Challenges and purchase the APICS Folio: How to Be an S&OP Champion
Predicting the future generally is thought impossible; yet, S&OP users seek to do just that by strategically directing businesses to achieve competitive advantage, and—more and more—are expected to do so to enable their employers' bottom line profitability.
Supply chain professionals: Take the APICS CSCP Learning System Free Demo today
By earning the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) designation, you will demonstrate significant commitment to your profession and your career, distinguish yourself as an industry expert, and excel with your newly acquired specialized knowledge.
APICS CPIM exam study options
APICS offers a variety of study options to help candidates prepare for the APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM) exams and enables them to choose the option that matches their preferred learning method.
For students who learn best in a classroom-based environment, there are instructor-led courses.
Online certification review courses
Online courses are ideal for professionals who enjoy taking a structured class, but need more flexibility.
Other APICS self-study options
APICS offers a wide variety of tools for candidates interested in studying on their own, including the
- APICS CPIM Exam Content Manual
- APICS CPIM practice questions
- APICS CPIM study notes.