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

Globalisation is Good………………………………..#innovation

design-processMuch has been said about the ‘evils’ of Globalisation & the impact on impoverished workers resulting in Brexit in the U.K & Trumps victory over the pond. But what about the positive impacts of Globalisation which are rarely trumpeted (excuse the pun)

The export of manufacturing jobs from the West to Asia has undoubtedly impacted on job security in the West but what about the subsequent cost reduction in the price of consumer products.

Also, hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty in China & Asia as a result.

Those very same products are bought by the same people who moan about foreigners stealing their jobs. A TV which can be bought for £200 in a UK supermarket would cost may times that if manufactured in the UK.

Protectionism is no answer to under employment. All that will happen is the Countries affected by Tariffs will introduce their own in ‘revenge’, take the auto industry as an example.

Every car manufactured in the U.S contains hundreds of components which are made abroad. If each of these components increases in costs the unit cost of the car goes up reducing competitive advantage & ultimately the business is bankrupt.

In the end everyone loses as bureaucracy strangles innovation & the economy shrinks.

The only way to ‘protect’ jobs is by investing in education & innovation. By producing individuals who can develop & create the products & services of the future. These will be made wherever it is cheapest to do so lifting the impoverished up the socio economic ladder & increasing their own economic power.

In the UK manufacturing is only 10% of the economy but we have some of the worlds best design & development Engineers earning good salaries creating innovative products even if they are manufactured overseas.

Apple is recognised as one of the Worlds most successful & innovative corporations employing thousands in well paying jobs – but not a single iPhone is made in the USA.

‘Putting America first’ may give short term gains but will ultimately end in disaster.

chris@amberhill-associates.com

www.amberhill-associates.com

 

Petrol Head Dead ? #innovation

In today’s Guardian Newspaper there is an article which describes Jaguar Land Rovers plans to invest millions in Electric car & battery technology creating up to 10,000 extra jobs in the UK.  According to Greg Clark the Business Secretary this Technology will form a key component of the Governments Industrial strategy which is to be revealed in the coming weeks.  Part of this will no doubt involve the development of autonomous vehicles which will whisk us from A to B with hardly a conscious thought. In fact current concerns regarding mobile phone texting & driving will disappear as our motors transform into mobile offices & theporsche-911-vintage commute we used to gather our thoughts and prepare for the day ahead is lost forever to the ever encroaching working day – whatever happened to ‘working from home’ ?

Anyone who travels regularly on the UK’s roads realises that the ‘joys of motoring’ were probably last experienced in the 1960’s. Most roads are so congested it is virtually impossible to put your foot down & enjoy the thrills of the road unless you journey to remote parts of Scotland.

The increasing adoption of autonomous vehicles will kill off the ‘petrol head’ forever – as the act of driving becomes more  passive & our senses are cut off from the experience.

Fairly soon driving enthusiasts will join their steam train colleagues in the anorak brigades.

But hang on; maybe, just maybe, there are enough of us out there who hate the idea of autonomous vehicles & want to buy a car to drive. Perhaps we are many & some of the Automotive manufacturers will realise that a sizeable proportion of their customers actually enjoy driving when the conditions allow & want to buy a car to drive it, not the other way round.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill-associates.com

 

 

10 things we can learn from the #chinacrisis

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHINA07

1) What goes up MUST come down – I know it’s obvious but some people really believed it was possible for an economy to grow at 7% per year indefinitely – just ask the punters on the Shanghai Index.

2) Gordon Brown didn’t abolish boom & bust – but then we all learned that 7 years ago. Capitalism, for all its pros & cons, is inherently cyclical.

3) Every Market is interconnected – more so now than ever before, any crisis in China will be replicated to one extent or another around the globe.

4) No Government controls the market – whether its the State Capitalist Chinese or the Western Democracies – intervention is limited in its affect.

5) Transparency is a concern – Is the Chinese economy still growing at 6%, 5% or much less – no one knows & there is a distinct lack of trust in the data supplied by the Chinese government.

6) It will impact us all :- The Chinese economy is the second biggest market in the world & although exports vastly exceed imports the purchasing power of the Chinese middle classes will be severely curbed.

7) Social upheaval will follow – The political tensions in China will erupt (to one degree or another); The Chinese Government will struggle to keep a lid on the educated middle classes who have got used to continuous growth & increased wealth.

8) Capitalism is in crisis – as boom follows bust & vice versa Capital flows to the point of highest growth – leaving chaos in its wake.

9) What comes next ? – no one knows – but maybe we should be looking to develop a sustainable society based on full-filling human needs rather than continuously expanding Gross Domestic product ?

10) The sun still rises in the East, sets in the West & the world keeps on turning.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill.biz

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Be wary of ‘Big Data’…….

Big-Data
We’re living in a world of ‘Big Data’.

I’m not sure how it crept up on us but it’s everywhere. From our School League Tables to our NHS Trust performance, from our Jobs & the demand for the umbiquitous score sheet to Police Crime Statistics which tell us that crime is pretty much falling everywhere.(!)

Big Data is everywhere & it rules. Try to get anything done without justifying it with the data to back it up & your in for a losing battle. Listen to conversations in Management meetings & count the number of times ‘data’ is mentioned.

And of course if its in the data then it must be true – right ?

Well, there is an interesting thing about data. It’s open to interpretation. And when someone’s bonus or even livelihood is dependent on it there is always a tendency (subconciously or otherwise) to manipulate that data to portray the favoured outcome.

The only way to provide some degree of protection is to totally separate the ones producing & measuring the data from those most likely to benefit if it goes one way or the other.

We’re going to get even more data, as the Internet of Things unfolds and more and more devices are created to measure, in particular, Biometric data –  so we can all measure our heartbeats, chollestrol levels, blood, pressure, heartbeat etc etc & display them on our wearable devices.

What we need to bear in mind is – what is all this data being used for ? Whom does it benefit ? and crucially, who owns it ?

chris@amberhill.biz

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Dis-United Kingdom……………#Scotland

Scot-indpThursday 18th September 2014 will go down in history as a momentous one for The United Kingdom & Scotland regardless of the result.

The fact that so many Scots have been completely dissillusioned with Westminster politics that they are willing to smash the Union & embark on a new journey as an Independent nation without even knowing what currency will be used is a terrible vindictment of how people have been alienated by successive Tory & Labour governments.

Perhaps the Palace of Westminster has been insulated from the real world for far too long.

No matter whether the Scots win or lose they will gain more power either by gaining full independence or from the consolation prize of ‘Devo Max’ – this will cause inevitable resentment in England where there are already calls for Regional Devolution, particularly in the long neglected North.

The 18th September will herald a new dawn in Scottish & UK politics.
chris@amberhill.biz

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Grim up North……………………………..#oneNorth

M625 Northern cities have put forward a joint proposal to improve transport infrastructure in the North. Dignatries from Newcastle, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester & Liverpool met the chancellor George Osborne who gave a very favourable response to the plan.

The plan which some are dubbing ‘HS3’ involves increasing road capacity, building a 125mph cross pennine rail link & improving local rail networks.

Extending the current Metro-link in Greater Manchester & including Liverpool Airport & City Centre will reduce road traffic on the dreaded M62 & reinforce links between these 2 great cities.

This is what ‘The North’ has been crying out for for the last 30 years.!

If it is done correctly by focusing on rail & metro links & by reducing road traffic rather than simply encouraging more cars onto already congested roads it will transform the North into a place where companies want to move & invest.

As someone who lives in Manchester but travels all over the country the gulf between North & South is gobsmacking. With  the South vastly overpopulated & house buying out of the question for the young it is absolutely vital to invest in the North & build a prosperous & diversified economy.

It is essential to maintain the pressure on George Osborne to put his money where his mouth is.

chris@amberhill.biz

www.amberhill.biz

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