Tag Archives: manufacturing

Spot, the Robotic Dog, Now Prowls the Floor at Ford

Spot, the robotic dog from Boston Dynamics, is now prowling manufacturing plants for Ford Motor Co. Ford calls the dog “Fluffy” and it doesn’t act as barking security guard, but rather is helping to map and update engineering plans at several manufacturing facilities. Fluffy wanders the 2-million-squar-foot transmission plan floor with its digital engineering handler, using laser scanning and imaging to produce detailed and accurate maps that Ford engineers can use to revamp the facility.

You may have heard of Spot previously as one of Boston Dynamics intriguing robotic lines. Boston Dynamics now sells Spot for $74,500 (for commercial purposes only). Since September, Boston Dynamics has sold or leased more than 250 Spot robots. Spot is typically used in construction or the electric utility industry, but was also recently used at a hospital’s emergency department to help assess patients with Covid-19.

Spot weighs 70 pounds and is equipped with five cameras that give it 360-degree vision to avoid obstacles and travels at 3 mph for several hours, constantly gathering data (without needing dog treats or a place to pee). The nimble robot is able to navigate tight spaces that the average-sized person can’t reach. It can climb stairs, cross metal grates, and keep its balance on slippery surfaces.

At Ford, Fluffy scans the plant in half of the time as needed by humans, and significantly reduces costs while maintaining accuracy.

But can it fetch the newspaper?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the concepts of products, product line, and product mix.
  2. Bring up Boston Dynamics’s Web site: http://www.bostondynamics.com
  3. More videos can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7vVhkEfw4nOGp8TyDk7RcQ.
  4. Show a video of Fluffy at Ford: https://www.wsj.com/video/the-robot-revolution-is-happeninglike-it-or-not/33C97F82-2E8B-4371-B635-C3DE3E375671.html
  5. Have students develop a marketing campaign to sell Spot to businesses.
  6. Finally, make sure to watch Spot dancing to Uptown Funk! https://youtu.be/kHBcVlqpvZ8

Source:  Boston Dynamics; Engadget; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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The Era of the Fashionable Face Mask

So far the year 2020 has drastically altered lives around the world in every way possible. Think about it – since this past March, there has been a significant shift in consumer spending patterns. Globally, consumers have changed what they buy and where they buy it. Stores and restaurants closed. Online shopping boomed. And more.

Just consider what happened during the toilet paper shortage of 2020 to see how consumer behavior changed. And it’s not just toilet paper or flour; the global coronavirus pandemic has made changes not only in our households, work, education, transportation, social groups, but also in fashion. Fashion? Yes, fashion.

As recently as March (only five months ago!) it was doubtful that the average U.S. household had a supply of face masks. Think about it. Did your household stock any face masks prior to 2020? Now compare that with the number of face masks you have today in your home, car, briefcase, purse, bike bag, and office. It’s quite a big change and has created an entirely new product category for fashionable face masks.

There is a lot of variety and of course price variations. Some companies are giving away face masks branded with their logo. Other companies are creating new patterns and designs that let people express their personalities. They can be as inexpensive as cloth masks for a dollar or two, all the way up to a $1.5 million jeweled mask!b

Stay safe – and fashionable.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: What industries do they think are affected by the coronavirus? (Did any list fashion?)
  2. Discuss the impacts of the coronavirus on companies.
  3. Poll students: How many face masks did they have at the beginning of the year? How many do they have now?
  4. Show video of world’s most expensive mask: https://www.impomag.com/home/video/21160288/the-worlds-most-expensive-mask?lt.usr=71617211&utm_source=IMPO+Insider_08142020&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=115163&utm_term=600946
  5. In groups or individually, have students do an Internet search for masks. Suggest they try their favorite brands, Amazon, Etsy, and more.
  6. Have students examine the different brands and determine the target market for that mask.
  7. Select several target market segments: have student develop a mask for the market segment considering the four Ps.

Source:  Associated Press; CNET; IMPO; other news sources

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Direct-to-Consumer Air Conditioner

It’s summer (finally)! People are leaving their houses and enjoying the warmer weather. Well, not everyone enjoys summer heat – many older apartments and houses lack central air conditioning and depend either on fans or in-window air conditioners. While many home technology devices are sleek looking and high-tech, the lowly room air conditioner has remained unchanged for decades, retaining its distinct lack of style.

July air conditioners aims to change that. The new direct-to-consumer (DTC) brand takes a fresh look at the design of in-window units and is positioning itself as a design item in addition to being an effective appliance. It’s struck a nerve with consumers; within the first five days of announcing a wait list for the product, there were more than 3,000 people waiting in (virtual) line. Early ordering also lowers the cost of the units by 25% and guarantees a summer delivery.

There are two units of power: 6,000 BTUs (cools up to 250 sq. ft.) is $349 and 8,000 BTUs (cools up to 350 sq. ft.) is $399. The unit is square, sleek and uses a simple installation process. The customer first inserts a frame to lock in the window, then slides in the unit until it clicks into place. The front of the unit is a solid panel that comes in white, light blue, gray, and ash wood that consumers can switch out and customize to match their decor. July can be controlled via WiFi and scheduled to turn on at a desired time as well as controlled with voice commands.

Ready for summer?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
  2. Show July: https://july.ac/
  3. For the July Air Conditioner product, who is the target market?
  4. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a profile of a target market for July. Include demographics, psychographics, behaviors, values, attitudes, etc.
  5. Based on the target market profile, what makes this product unique for these customers?
  6. July is a DTC brand – meaning it is not sold in stores. What are the considerations for this brand as it works to reach prospective customers?
  7. How is July positioning its products compared to the standard in-window air conditioners?

Source: Ad Week; Fast Company; Gear Patrol

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