Where we’re headed in #2021

Wow!! – 2020 – you couldn’t make it up; so where are we headed in 2021?

  • Working from home is now a cultural norm; whatever happens to Coronavirus this is one trend which will not be reversed. Workers who are savvy enough & technologically enabled to work remotely will continue to seek out opportunities which offer this option making its reversal impossible. Declining revenue from City Real Estate will instigate a decline in Inner City Property prices & a mass migration to the suburbs. The London property bubble is well and truly ‘popped’
  • eCommerce market share will continue to increase; if the High Street is not dead it’s on its last legs & is wobbling badly. This will drive eCommerce logistics where same day delivery becomes the norm.
  • ReCommerce sustainability will drive a mass market of re-use & hiring of products for the short term rather than as a one off purchase.This will also impact the automotive market.
  • Cloud storage of data will continue & there will be an even greater emphasis on the customer.
  • In Automotive, the current trends of increasing electrification & automation will drive a decrease in car ownership in the Western  world of around 25%. As new Generation-Z drivers familiar with the cultural trends of shared ownership & reduced carbon footprint migrate away from individual ownership where cars currently spend 95% of their time sat in a parking lot. China will continue to grow driving local manufacturing capacity.
  • Brexit will give UK Auto companies the excuse they are looking for to slash car lines, reduce factory real estate & reduce headcount.

Chris Robinson BSc

www.amberhillassociates.com

 

Bring it all home……#reshoring

A recent survey in The Engineer reported that 59% of correspondents think that bringing manufacturing elements of the Supply Chain back to the UK (#reshoring) should be a priority following the Covid19 Pandemic outbreak.

There are some really good points made in the comments section & following Britain’s exit from the EEC there is no reason why this should not be Government policy, even stimulated by official Government subsidies – but should it ?

There is no denying that ever since the late 1970’s Britains manufacturing base has shrunk from around 32% to 10% of GDP – but does this matter ?

To anyone who has been involved in Engineering & Manufacturing over the last 30 years & who has seen millions of good quality skilled & relatively secure jobs migrate to China & Asia to be replaced by insecure temporary low paying ‘gig economy’ roles the answer  has to be ‘yes’

However we also need to remember this shocking decline was also due to a certain amount of complacency in British Manufacturing as a result of poor Management, sloppy working practices & shoddy quality.

Rebalancing the Economy by encouraging high quality Manufacturing supported by competent Management & Customer focussed Quality Management sounds like a positive move indeed.

Chris Robinson

www.amberhill.biz

Lessons Learned – #Coronavirus

What a couple of weeks! – the world has tilted on its axis & society has changed forever plunging millions into unemployment & causing thousands of deaths worldwide. In most parts of the world bustling cities have ground to a halt as people self isolate in their homes.

So what have we learned ?

  1. It’s not all about the ‘economy stupid’ – peoples lives are actually more important than GDP growth & the ‘bottom line’ but  let’s see what happens when the medical emergency is over & the debt has to be repaid. Unlike the 2008 Financial crash we must not allow the poor to carry the overwhelming burden. If we have to learn anything from this after 10 years of austerity we cannot allow the mentally ill, the sick, the impoverished & the disabled to bear the brunt of fiscal cuts – the wealthy will have to pay their share in the form of a higher tax burden – anything less would be criminally negligent & social breakdown the result.
  2. Humans are naturally altruistic – half a million people in the UK have came out of retirement to support the beleaguered NHS & social care sector & millions have rallied round to support their neighbours & friends. As a social species we depend on one another to survive & thrive.
  3. The ‘Magic Money Tree’ has been well & truly discovered – here in the UK hundreds of millions have been found to subsidise 80% of wages & support the economy in the face of an unprecedented decline in economic activity.
  4. Working from home IS possible – for many millions of us. This unprecedented event has demonstrated the capability of communications technology like no other so when it is allover the reluctance to allow home working has been swept away.
  5. Some of us cannot work from home – people making things in factories & workshops have to be physically present to enable this – despite all the theory & academic studies  about A.I & robot technology we are a long long way from this in reality.
  6. Restrictions on travel have clearly demonstrated that 90% of journey’s are completely unnecessary. Sorry but International air travel for your sales conference or  Davos event is no longer socially acceptable.We like having less pollution – take a look at the sky.
  7. The sooner we return to normal the better. Really – maybe we don’t want to return to Normal.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill.biz

Time for a #Change ?….

BrexitRegardless of one’s political views it is easy to see the current mire of Brexit is a classic example of how not to manage change.
By failing at every level the process has become stuck in the mud regardless of whether you were a remainer or an ardent Brexiteer; confusion reigns supreme & it is difficult to see a way out of the mess without seriously ‘cheesing off’ large portions of the population.
According to John Kotter, a Professor at Harvard Business School there are 8
key steps to change:-
  1. Create Urgency: There needs to be a compelling case for change, and it’s up to the project leader to explain that reason clearly so people understand and are inspired to change.
  2. Form a Powerful Coalition: One person cannot shoulder the change themselves. It requires a team, so it’s important to collect the key people to help enable that change.
  3. Create a Vision for the Change: Make it short, clear, relevant and easy to understand by the people who are going to be affected by the change.
  4. Communicate the Vision: Communicate the change, but don’t just talk the talk. Walk the walk of the change and have it reflected throughout the project.
  5. Remove Obstacles: As you work towards implementing change, you will hit both physical and emotional obstacles, so you and the team need to help people overcome these blocks by listening to their concerns and seeking their feedback.
  6. Create Short-Term Wins: By demonstrating the benefits of the change early in the process you’re more likely to get buy-in and expedite the process overall.
  7. Build on the Change: Don’t think you’re done too early in the process. Instead, repeat the above steps for awhile and let the change settle in.
  8. Anchor the Change: Finally, make sure the change sticks by embedding it in the organizational procedures, operating models and people’s day-to-day work
So applying these key steps to Brexit:-
1) Create Urgency – why did Brexit have to be triggered so soon after the Referendum & without a clear definition of what the destination was. Given the current debate about what Brexit actually means this was never spelt out clearly or defined to a fine enough detail.
2) Form a Powerful coalition – This clearly did not happen. Theresa May is undoubtedly a Politician of fierce determination but lacks the ability to reach out & form alliances even in her own party. She has been thwarted at every turn because she never had the character to reach out to others across the political divide & form a consensus on what Brexit was & how to achieve it.
3) Create a vision for the change – it is still a matter of conjecture whether Brexit involves a customs union, agreed access to the common market, etc etc – ask 10 different people what Brexit is & you get 11 different answers.
4) Communicate the Vision – ‘Nuff said.
5) Remove Obstacles – it seems as if the longer the process staggers on the more obstacles are thrown in its way. This is a direct result of not having a clearly defined end goal & strategy.
6) Create short term wins – difficult to see any evidence of this.
7) Build on Change – yet to see this achieved.
8) Anchor the change  – Ditto.
It is incredulous to believe that a major western Democratic Government has embarked on a Change of this magnitude without adopting the very basis tenets of Change Management.
chris@amberhill.biz

Riding the gravy train #autonomousvehicles #HS2

I’ve got a meeting in the Capital in 2 hours to discuss an important project so I call up an AV by thinking inside the box (which resides in a corner of my brain)

I get an alert inside my brain box & head for the door. I don’t carry any hardware as I’m permanently connected to the cloud.

The AV glides up & an orifice appears so I hop in & relax in the sumptuous surroundings, I click a switch in  my brain box & the vehicle becomes transparent – I want to enjoy the journey today & take a break from screens.

As we travel towards the motorway we pass the old JLR plant, after they moved all production to Slovakia following #brexit the site is now used as a storage facility for expired batteries.

Pretty soon I’m joining the M6 Hyperway, a 12 lane superhighway augmented for AV’s. My AV joins the swarm & accelerates to a steady 130mph surrounded by other AV’s centimetres apart. Statistics prove that travelling in an AV is much safer than air travel.

Shortly we pass the Birmingham Curzon St station – now used as an Art Gallery after the #HS2 project was abandoned when Government subsidies were withdrawn following the election of the Greens.

We’re approaching the Capital now & I’m reflecting on what a great city Manchester is & how its developed since the terminal decline of London after #brexit & the ‘Great Exit’ of the Finance Industry.

As my AV glides through the suburbs & I prepare to disembark I’m laughing at the notion that once upon a time some people thought we would still be using trains that ran on rails!

Chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.co.uk

 

Happy 2019!!!………………#UltimaThule

As we enter 2019 there is a lot of uncertainty, Brexit, Trump’s Whitehouse, China’s economy, crashing stock markets to name but a few. However 2019 is also the 50th Anniversary of the magnificent moon landings when mankind took its first tentative steps into the Universe with courage and conviction.

As we celebrate this great achievement an unmanned Nasa probe – ‘New Horizons’ will be approaching a tiny rocky world :- ‘Ultima Thule’ is only 30km wide & is 6.5 billion kilometres from Earth, situated in the Kuiper belt a band of frozen material that orbits the Sun. Ultima is a further billion miles beyond Pluto & is the farthest body in our Solar System to be surveyed.

The intention is to beam back to Earth images & data from the probe in the early hours of the New Year.

Over the decades NASA has contributed a massive amount of invaluable knowledge for ‘the benefit of all mankind’ – long may it continue.

Happy New Year

Chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com

 

 

 

12 years to save the Earth………………#climatechange

According to the U.N International Panel on Climate Change we have 12 years to reduce carbon dioxide emissions significantly enough to cap temperature rise below 1.5 degC or we will suffer irreversible & catastrophic climate change.

The recent severe weather events over the last few years should offer significant warning enough. Although individual events can’t be directly linked to climate change Scientists overwhelmingly agree that it makes the risk of their occurrence ever more likely.

Each of us as citizens of planet earth bears direct responsibility as consumers & as members of Society to put pressure on our Governments now to reduce carbon emissions & make ethical choices in our use of energy & in our choices regarding food production & consumption.

Here in the U.K we can make a small impact by challenging our Government on the development of Fracking which is overwhelmingly opposed by local communities.

Please take 5 minutes to check out this petition   STOP FRACKING NOW

 

#Brexit Exit ?…………………..#automotive

copyright C Robinson 2018

Discovery Experience

This week JLR hit the headlines as they announced plans to transfer production of their Discovery model from Solihull in the West Midlands to Slovakia.

This factory is nothing new – it was first announced to the press in 2016:-

https://www.tatamotor

JLR also has manufacturing facilities in Brazil, China & India. Like all global automotive players its manufacturing sites are scattered across the globe although before the Tata takeover they were all in the UK but that was before the Indian conglomerate invested $billions into the company & transformed it from a niche brand to one, although small on a Global  scale, has more than doubled its workforce in the UK to over 40,000 people as well as expanding the range of products enormously. Without this massive investment Jaguar Land Rover would not exist in its current form.

The move  does however highlight something which ardent Brexiteers seem to be unable to grasp. All these large global businesses have no overriding loyalty to any particular country & are in the business of generating revenue not pandering to some quaint notions of nationality, so they adapt their business to suit the geo-political conditions of the times.

One must ponder then what is the benefit of introducing additional barriers to making business easier. Additional bureaucracy & costs in the form of tariffs & customs charges when parts are arriving from all over the globe just doesn’t make business sense. If Britain leaves the customs union it will cause a massive headache for companies like JLR who import & export millions of components & parts every year. Longer term this will give them greater incentive to set up manufacturing sites inside the European Economic entity.

The harder Brexit gets the easier Exit gets.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.co.uk

All views expressed in this blog are the authors alone. 

“Beam me up Scotty”………………………….#innovation

The UK Governments recent announcement to ban the sale of new diesel & petrol cars by 2040 is just another exercise in ‘smoke & mirrors’ & puts most of the onus on Local Authorities – “The government will require councils to produce local air quality plans which reduce nitrogen dioxide levels in the fastest possible time.”

By 2040 Technology may have advanced to the point where we no longer even drive ‘cars’

Looking back 23 years ago was when the world wide web was born. No iPhones, No Google, no Netflix, mobile phones had batteries bigger than the phone & we watched movies on VHS tapes. Back then only 7% of cars were diesel – that was before the Government encouraged the production & purchase of diesel cars in an effort to reduce Carbon Dioxide emissions in the face of global warming.

There is no doubt that in the next few years Electric cars will begin to dominate the market; all of the big players already have plans in place to make at least 50% of all new models Electric.

The biggest challenge is having the infrastructure in place to keep pace, charging points at workplaces & in Cities will be a massive bottleneck in the near future. They are committing 100 million GBP to this in the way of grants & this is a good start but unlikely to deliver the required changes fast enough. Anyone who has driven on the M6 regularly will tell you they have been building a ‘smart’ motorway for 4 years & it is not due for completion until 2019.

Read about the Government Plan for Clean Air Quality here & form your own opinion.

As we move towards an era of electric autonomous vehicles the biggest threat to the manufacturers will be that of ownership. If I can summon a car on my mobile & get driven anywhere – a grander form of ‘Uber’ – why would I want to ‘own’ one.

By 2040 I may be able to teleport via quantum entanglement – no doubt the Government will have to invent a new tax to replace that currently used to tax the roads.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill.biz

Auto Industry at a crossroads………….#innovation

Despite claims to the contrary there is little doubt that the Automotive Industry has lagged behind major social trends in terms of energy efficiency, global climate change & emissions.

For decades the industry did little to improve fuel efficiency until the oil crisis of the early 1970’s brought about the demise of gas guzzling V8’s & V12’s.

The industry now faces a perfect storm of stricter emissions controls particularly regarding Nitrous Oxide emitting Diesels & consumer pressure for a ‘green’ alternative.

This has all been exacerbated by the Volkswagen emissions scandal although to be fair to the Automotive suppliers they have been reacting to social pressure to reduce carbon dioxide emissions (from petrol cars) backed by Government incentives to increase diesel motors at the expense of petrol. This has been promoted in the U.K & elsewhere by reducing Road Tax on Diesel cars & making petrol relatively expensive.

Governments seem to conveniently forget it takes 5-7 years to bring a new model to market from initial concept to volume sales.

Whereas most of the major manufacturers have invested heavily in electric & hybrid alternatives they face disruption from ‘new’ players in the market like Tesla. Indeed future competition will come from the Technology sector & not the traditional Automotive sector.

It has been estimated that up to 80% of new cars are bought via ‘cheap’ finance, readily available due to historically low global interest rates. This cannot last & already there is talk of a finance bubble ready to burst.

The Auto industry faces many challenges over the coming years & needs to be fleet of foot & responsive to customer needs if they are to survive the next decade when technology & social changes will only become more pronounced.

Chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com