Tag Archives: manufacturing

Peloton Recalls Treadmills

Peloton has been riding high for the past year as gyms closed and people took their fitness routines into their homes. Peloton stock and sales are at an all-time high. To be clear though, high sales volume has given the company problems with supply chain and manufacturing during this time period. It even has a recall due to problems with broken pedals on its bikes which caused injuries.

However, a more recent and critical problem for Peloton has been a number of cases of injury to adults, children, or pets being pulled underneath the rear of the treadmill. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there have been at least 72 reports of adults, children, and pets being pulled under the treadmill, including 29 reports of injuries to children and one death of a six-year-old child. Serious issues indeed.

The recall notice was issued by Peloton, but only after an urgent warning from the CPSC that forced the company to change its initial stance about the problems. Peloton is now offering a full refund for owners of the treadmill.

What should companies due about hazards to consumers?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the components of public relations and crisis communications.
  2. Show video about the problem: https://youtu.be/RiAjg4RXLMQ
  3. View Peloton’s statement on its website: https://www.onepeloton.com/press/articles/tread-and-tread-recall
  4. Show the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission recall notice for Peloton: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2021/peloton-recalls-tread-plus-treadmills-after-one-child-died-and-more-than-70-incidents
  5. Show additional recall notice for a separate Peloton recall: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2021/peloton-recalls-tread-treadmills-due-to-risk-of-injury
  6. What are the basic components and steps to handle crisis communications?
  7. How did Peloton initially handle the problems? What did they later do?
  8. Divide students into teams and have each team select a company/product. Then, have teams determine the steps to take during a crisis for that company.

Source: CBS; CNBC; New York Times; other news sources

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Why Can’t Ketchup, well… Catchup?

It’s happened again – one minute consumers are buying in a predictable way, at the usual times, and in the usual patterns. Then, boom! Everything changes.

But this time, instead of earlier toilet paper shortages, the product causing big problems is ketchup! Especially those small packets that are loved by fast-food customers everywhere.

The culprit, once again, causing this supply chain saga is Covid-19. Yes, the pandemic appears to have influenced every facet of consumer behavior. The main shift was caused by closed restaurants that drove consumers to the fast-food drive-in restaurants and home cooking, rather than dine-in restaurant options. It also turned many former dine-in restaurants into takeout places, making ketchup a commodity included in more food orders.

Ketchup packet prices have risen 13% since last January and the market share of packets (sachets) has eclipsed that of tabletop bottles. Ketchup is the most consumed sauce at U.S. restaurants, and even more is eaten at home. The pandemic has increased overall retail ketchup sales in the U.S. by 15% to more than $1 billion. Kraft Heinz leads the market with nearly 70% of the total U.S. market.

Kraft is responding to the shortage and plans to open two new manufacturing lines and increase production by about 25%. It has also innovated a no-touch ketchup dispenser to use at restaurants to help meet safety concerns caused by Covid.

Pass the ketchup please.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the elements in the supply chain and marketing channel.
  2. Diagram the supply chain and marketing channel for toilet paper.
  3. Show a news video about the shortage: https://youtu.be/4A7ObtFfYrE
  4. Where are the stress points in the supply chain and marketing channel?
  5.  What can be done to better produce and manage products?
  6. Poll students: What are their predictions for the next shortage?

Source: New York Times; Reuters News; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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That Robot Can Dance!

We love robots. They are endlessly fascinating to us as we contemplate the technological advances that make robots useful to humans. They can carry gear, map territories, and enter spaces unsafe to humans. But of all their uses, we particularly like how robots can bust a move and dance (remember Spot the robot dancing to Uptown Funk?)!

Thanks to its incredibly animated robots and technology, Boston Dynamics may be the world’s most well-known robotics company. Boston Dynamics was originally an offshoot of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is now owned by Hyundai Motor Group. Its robots include Atlas, Spot, Big Dog, and Handle.

Programming the robots to dance was a daunting task, requiring hundreds of hours of work. The programming had to let robots balance, bounce, and (seemingly) even carry a rhythm. Atlas the robot uses a vast array of sensors, actuators, and a gyroscope to help it balance. It also contains three quad-core onboard computers. The result is an imaginative display of robotic versatility and possibility.

Dancing to the 1962 hit song “Do you love me?” by The Contours, Atlas and friends seem determined to get humans to love them indeed.

But can they salsa?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. First, show the video of Atlas and Spot dancing: https://youtu.be/fn3KWM1kuAw
  2. Bring up Boston Dynamics’s Web site: http://www.bostondynamics.com
  3. Bring up Boston Dynamics YouTube page with videos and show robots in action: https://www.youtube.com/user/BostonDynamics
  4. Dancing Spot can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/kHBcVlqpvZ8
  5. Discuss the concepts of products, product line, and product mix.
  6. What are commercial and business applications for each robot?
  7. What companies might buy robots (beyond the military)?
  8. Divide students into teams. Have each team develop a business-to-business marketing campaign for robots.

Source:  Associated Press; Boston Dynamics

 

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