Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

So how much innovation can there be in supply chain design for cut flowers? Once the industry globalizes (as it has), it would seem that airfreight is the only option. Customers value freshness and cut flowers are the essence of a perishable flower. However, there may be more room for process changes than you would think as there is a trend of shipping flowers by sea (Fresh-Cut Flowers, Shipped by Sea?, Wall Street Journal, May 11).

The delicate business of transporting fresh-cut flowers from field to vase is being quietly rearranged, with more and more blooms taking a slow steam by sea from South America and Africa instead of being whisked by air.

Global cut-flower sales approached $14 billion last year and most move by cargo plane, but high jet-fuel costs and improvements in chilling technology are prompting a shift to more ocean shipping, particularly for imports to Europe.

Ocean transport costs can be half those of airfreight, an important consideration for price-conscious supermarkets and florists. Mom is unlikely to notice the difference in her Mother’s Day bouquet. Proponents say certain roses, carnations and other hearty varieties show no ill effects from the sea voyages spent in refrigerated containers a degree or two above freezing.

According to the article, some industry participants say that ocean shipping could account for a significant chunk of the market in coming years. Currently, airfreight accounts for 99% of shipments.


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It’s fast-food week here at the Ops Room. Today’s story comes from Wired looking at Lyfe Kitchen, a Palo Alto restaurant founded by ex-McDonald’s execs that they hope to expand nationwide (Former McDonald’s Honchos Take On Sustainable Cuisine, August). The twist is that rather than serving beef from industrial farms and deep-fried everything, they are aiming for higher end, sustainable fare.

Lyfe’s aim is not just to build a radically sustainable, healthy brand of fast food. The former Golden Archers hope to transform the way the world produces organic ingredients, doing for responsibly grown meat and veggies what McDonald’s did for factory-farmed beef. These days, the utopian vision of responsible agriculture is premised on a return to small and slow. If Roberts is right, though, we’ll have to swallow a paradox as preposterous as a vegan Whopper: The nirvana of eco-gastronomy may at long last be attained, but only thanks to the efficiencies of supply-chain management.

The following video gives an idea of what they are about.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

So what does it take to pull this off?


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About a month ago, I posted about the US Postal Service experimenting with electric vehicles. One reader commented essentially arguing that different drive trains is not what the postal service needed. Rather he claimed that they should just open people’s mail, scan it, and send it to an email address. This struck me as a little far-fetched.  I couldn’t quite imagine people willingly let postal workers go through their mail or that the postal service would want the responsibility of safeguarding customers’ privacy.

It just turns out that our reader was ahead of the times by about a month. From PRI’s The World, we have “Finland mail goes digital.” The Finnish postal service Itella is proposing to do just what our reader suggested.

A spokesman for the postal service reportedly compared the new service to e-banking and he said the letters will be digitally copied in special secure premises. Workers doing the scanning says Itella will be bound by strict confidentiality agreements. … More than 100 households and 20 businesses in southern Finland are going to try it out starting later this month. The whole idea has, as you might expect, raised privacy concerns. But Itella notes that this is a voluntary program. Everyone who signs up for the new service knows that their mail will be opened and scanned.


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