Balancing Green: A Practical Guide to Corporate Sustainability

May 08, 2018
Yossi Sheffi, Director of the MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics, has done it again. He recently published a must-read book on sustainability. Balancing Green: When to Embrace Sustainability in a Business (and When Not To) is a well-researched book that cuts through many of the fallacies and wishful thinking that surrounds sustainability . As much as those committed to the environment might wish, there is no guaranty that a company that invests in sustainability initiatives will save money or increase sales. Surveys show a significant percentage of consumers say they want sustainable

It Ain’t Easy Being Green

May 05, 2018
Yossi Sheffi says sustainability can only go so far if higher costs scare off customers. Yossi Sheffi is a connoisseur of systems. As a serial entrepreneur in the logistics field and director of MIT’s Center for Transportation and Logistics, Sheffi has spent a lot of time thinking about how complex networks of people, products, and vehicles operate. In his latest book, “Balancing Green: When to Embrace Sustainability in a Business (and When Not To),’’ Sheffi brings this perspective to the push for corporate responsibility, analyzing the challenges and benefits of “going green” in a

Rise of the Hyperlocal Fulfillment Center

April 26, 2018
Densely populated and digitally connected megacities will create an urgent demand for inner-city, hyperlocal fulfillment centers says Dr. Matthias Winkenbach, Director of the MIT Megacity Logistics Lab. Winkenbach’s analysis is part of a new white paper titled Roadmap for Change: The Flexible Industrial Distribution Facilities Network of the Future published by the Industrial Asset Management Council (IAMC). The changing dynamic between manufacturer and customer is disrupting the distribution function. The white paper describes a number of these disruptors. People migrating to cities is one.

When Going Green is Not Black and White

April 17, 2018
In a new book, MIT professor Yossi Sheffi examines the trade-offs companies face when grappling with sustainability issues. In 2010, the environmental group Greenpeace launched an online campaign against Nestle, the food-production giant. Nestle’s KitKat bars, the campaign charged, contained palm oil supplied by a company that was improperly clearing rainforests. But Nestle, as MIT Professor Yossi Sheffi discusses in a new book on sustainability in business, thought it had already addressed the issue. The company had adopted a “no deforestation” policy, stating it would no longer use palm oil

People Must Retain Control of Autonomous Vehicles

April 06, 2018
Last month, for the first time, a pedestrian was killed in an accident involving a self-driving car. A sports-utility vehicle controlled by an autonomous algorithm hit a woman who was crossing the road in Tempe, Arizona. The safety driver inside the vehicle was unable to prevent the crash. Although such accidents are rare, their incidence could rise as more vehicles that are capable of driving without human intervention are tested on public roads. In the past year, several countries have passed laws to pave the way for such trials. For example, Singapore modified its Road Traffic Act to permit

Navigation System Steers Drones Towards Crash-Free Flight

March 01, 2018
Using drones to deliver packages requires the aerial delivery vehicles to navigate a complex logistics obstacle course at high speeds. MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a system called NanoMap, that allows drones to consistently fly at 20 miles per hour through dense environments such as warehouses. Flying around multiple obstacles quickly is computationally complex. Small drones with limited payloads can’t carry enough real-time processing power to perform this navigational feat reliably. Many existing approaches rely on intricate maps that

Time to Talk About Conversational Commerce?

March 08, 2018
More consumers are interacting with businesses through messaging and chat apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, or through audio technology devices such as Amazon’s Echo product. This chatter is often called conversational commerce. How might it impact supply chains? Brian Subirana, Director of the MIT Auto-ID Lab, will explore the implications at the forthcoming Crossroads 2018 conference, on April 17th, at the MIT campus, Cambridge MA. The array of audio communications channels now available to consumers allows them to chat with company representatives. They can receive customer

What Uber’s Fatal Accident Could Mean for the Autonomous-Car Industry

March 19, 2018
he autonomous-car industry faces closer scrutiny and criticism after a self-driving Uber killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, on Sunday evening. Full details of the accident are unclear, but the local police department issued a statement saying that a woman was fatally struck after walking in front of an Uber car traveling in self-driving mode. Uber says it is cooperating with a police investigation and has suspended testing of its self-driving vehicles in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto. It is the first time a self-driving vehicle has killed a pedestrian, and the event is

Can We Trust the “Trust Machine?”

February 01, 2018
In 2015 The Economist magazine famously dubbed blockchain technology “the trust machine” owing to its ability to create trust in business networks. This capability resonates strongly in the supply chain world, where a lack of trust is a major obstacle to high-level collaboration. The promise of blockchain may be fulfilled in time, but at present its progress is impeded by – ironically – a lack of trust in the technology. To some extent the problem has its roots in the industry’s healthy skepticism of much-hyped innovations. But there are other trust issues related to the way that supply chains