Saturday, 31 July 2010

Pressure from the big guys

We are increasingly seeing large organisations insisting on 'compliance' from their many suppliers. This used to be about quality - understandably. Now, in many cases, this insistence has extended to environmental performance and sometimes as far as corporate social responsibility. (The big guys know they are at risk if their suppliers are caught adopting unethical practises.)

Few, however, extend this influence to issues such as productivity. Yet, if a supplier becomes more productive, there is more room for manoeuvre on pricing and the company is more sustainable, likely to stick around longer ... so it IS in the interests of the buyer to help suppliers become more productive.

So anyone thinking of starting a productivity hub for their supply chain?

Friday, 23 July 2010

US healthcare bill makes India fitter

The recent US healthcare bill is a great help to India’s pharmaceutical industry, which is focused on the generic drug market and contract manufacturing.

India's pharmaceutical companies enjoy the advantage of having access to a good talent pool at affordable costs and they boast of having the largest number of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved production facilities outside the US.

As the industry matures, the growth has to come not only through capacity expansion but also through productivity improvements and the pursuit of operational excellence to satisfy regulatory authorities about compliance to standards, good manufacturing practices and electronic record keeping.

Friday, 16 July 2010

China does not care about the environment. Right?

CHINA is using an “iron hand”, in a silk glove (of an extra $12 billion) to achieve energy efficiency targets.

The hard line is being taken after it was revealed that energy use rose 3.2% in the first quarter compared to last year, reversing the decline in the energy used to produce each dollar of gross domestic product.

This is seen as a major setback in China’s push to cut energy use by 20% by the end of this year from 2006.

Premier Wen Jiabao held a nationwide videoconference and used the occasion to direct government officials to wield an “iron hand” and shut down inefficient enterprises. China Daily, in reporting on the videoconference, stated the Chinese government had also earmarked an extra $12 billion to pay for upgrades and other measures to reach its energy efficiency goals.

The government pledged to shut down hundreds of smaller coal-fired power plants, below standard steel mills and smelting plants, cement works, aluminum manufacturers, glass factories and paper mills.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Garden for growth

A new gardening project in Senegal is addressing issues of food security, poverty and climate change.  'Super Vegetable Gardens' are hoping to help small-scale farmers throughout Senegal and in tropical areas around the world.

The 'super vegetable gardens' initiatve has been running in Senegal for just over a year and there are now more than 150 such gardens throughout the country.

It is the result of 30 years of research that was first field tested in Niger in 2007, as a collaboration between the international aid group Pro-Natura and the French firm JTS Seeds.

"It is very, very new. The only obstacle is linked to the type of person taking care of the garden.  It works exceedingly well technically, but you have to spend two hours per day to feed a family of ten people," says Guy Reinaud, president of Pro-Natura.

Each 60-square-meter garden starts with a simple kit - a toolbox for farmers.  Inside is a selection of organic, non-genetically-modified seeds for fruits and vegetables including cabbage, tomatoes, carrots and melons.  The kit also includes soil conditioners, such as fertilizers, and growing equipment, like plastic veils to protect the plants.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Is it science?

Sergey Brin, the Google co-founder, is helping to search for a cure to Parkinson's disease ... tests show he has a pre-disposition to the disease.  What's interesting is that he is doing it by turning normal 'scientific method' on its head.

Scientists usually work by creating a hypothesis and then conducting experiments and collecting data to prove or disprove that hypothesis.

Brin's approach is to work with 10,000 sufferers of Parkinson's, gathering data about them, their lifestyles and their condition .. and then looking for patterns that might create a hypothesis.

This is, in effect, a new approach to science made possible by the ability of computers to store and analyse vast amounts of data.  Is it science?  Well, yes. In effect, Brin's hypothesis is that the data collection and analysis project will identify patterns, connections or trends. If he proves this, its good - and very useful - science!