Jargon watch: lights out production lines

If you are of a certain age, ‘hand made by robots’ brings to mind the Fiat Strada / Ritmo a thirtysomething year old hatchback design that was built in a factory with a high degree of automation for the time.

Fiat subsidiary Comau created Robogate, a highly automated system that speeds up body assembly. Robogate was eventually replaced in 2000. The reality is that ‘hand made by robots’ had a liberal amount of creative licence. Also it didn’t enable Fiat to shake off its rust bucket image. Beneath the skin, the car was essentially a Fiat 127. Car factories still aren’t fully automated.

Foxconn is looking to automate its own production lines and create products that truly are ‘hand-built by robots’. Like Fiat it has its own robots firm which is manufacturing 10,000 robots per year.

Foxconn has so far focused on production lines for larger product final assembly (like televisions) and workflow on automated machine lines: many consumer products use CNC (computer numeric control) machines. That’s how Apple iPhone and Macs chassis’ are made. These totally automated lines are called ‘lights out production lines’ by Foxconn.

Foxconn is looking to automate production because China is undergoing a labour shortfall as the population getting older. Foxconn uses a lot of manual workers for final assembly of devices Apple’s iPhone because the components are tightly packed together. It will be a while before Foxconn manages to automate this as robotic motor control isn’t fine enough to achieve this yet.

More information
Foxconn boosting automated production in China | DigiTimes – (paywall)

The QRcode post

A few years ago, I was involved in a project that used QRcodes on OOH (out of home) activity for a retail launch. QRcode scanners varied in performance. In addition you had to think about:

  • Contrast – did the QRcode stand out?
  • Relative aspect – would it be too big or too small for the audience to scan?

In the UK, QRcodes are seen by marketers as old hat (but then they didn’t ‘get’ them in the same way that Asia did). Other people don’t really understand how to use them.
QRcode 101
Above is the picture of the local cafe around the corner from my office. The QRcode is too disjointed and blurred to read. I asked a member of staff about it and he told me that he thought it was some type of logo…

June 2016 online marketing and technology research slides

Here is a copy of the slides that I pull together (when I have the time) each month of publicly available data that would be of use.

This month I have some new data around search which came from disclosures at Google I/O in terms of search volumes. We talk about social as if search has gone out of style but its growth is still staggering, driven by mobile device penetration.
Google global search volume
Looking at global search revenue over time, Google’s monopoly position becomes immediately apparent.
Global Search Revenues
More details about me here.
Slide20
Full presentation available for download as a PDF on Slideshare

MWC 2016 as a case study on talkability, brand mentions and brand performance

Mobile World Congress (or in industry parlance MWC 2016) is where the telecoms industry goes to set out its stand. It has gradually changed from being a conference where the big issues of the day are hashed out, to more of a trade show a la CES or CeBIT.

From a brand point of view, it was of interest to me for two reasons:

  • It offers largely culture neutral brand discussions, many of which occur online
  • I have an interest, having worked on a few mobile brands during my agency career (Palm, Ericsson, Verizon Wireless, Samsung, Qualcomm, Telenor Myanmar and Huawei)

I pulled this slide ware together for a talk I am giving at an internal event at an agency.

The first data that I have put together is looking at the amount of mentions that occurred regardless of the channel. It is a relatively easy data point to pull out of monitoring systems very quickly.

Obviously the value of mentions will depend on how many people view them, what is the context that the mention appears in. What was the content around it? Who said it, are they expert or trustworthy? So looking purely at the number of mentions would be crude, offering little value apart from nice PowerPoint slides.

Breaking the mentions down by platform gives an idea of relative marketing communications competencies of brands. So looking at Huawei and Xiaomi shows contrasting approach to building talkability and conversations. Huawei focuses on traditional media channels where as Xiaomi focuses on social.

By comparison LG and Samsung seem to have a more holistic approach.

I then moved on beyond the mention data to try and look at relative authority of whoever mentioned the brand and looking at the relative distribution by brand and channel.

I had done some initial analysis on the event in general here. These numbers showed how well brands had built high authority communities and the discussions around them.

What was quite surprising was the polarised authority of mainstream media sources. Newswire syndication had destroyed authority of many online traditional media channels. A second cross brand observation was the relatively low authority of the blogosphere.

These slides only start to delve into understanding talkability and are time consuming to create in comparison to looking at raw mention numbers, but offer superior strategic insight for both earned and paid media approaches for future launches.

I did some broad profiling of online conversations around MWC here.

Oprah time: China’s Coming War With Asia by Jonathan Holslag

Where do I start with a book title this inflammatory? I went to the trouble of reading the book twice before starting this review. In the end, the only conclusion I can come to is ‘Policy Faultlines in East Asia’ doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Untitled
Holsag marshals a huge range of facts and opinions within the book. If you want to have a basic understanding of modern Chinese state, the book is a good primer.

He provides insight into the Chinese Communist’s Party’s policy cornerstone of territory maximisation. They were happy to put off their agenda for tactical advantage, but never gave up on their goals. China’s neighbours have similar inflexible policy goals. There is is no win-win solution.

Time has brought increased pressures. A fight for resources to fuel further growth and water rights conflicts. Relative declines in economic growth also fuels nationalistic politics. In China, nationalistic sentiments in citizens grew with prosperity. It has become convenient for politicians to tap into nationalistic sentiments.

Holsag doesn’t attempt to provide a solution for de-escalation of these edges. His book only provides a macro-level understanding of the countries involved. For the reader who wants to understand Asia, Holsag’s book is an excellent primer.  More on China’s Coming War With Asia by Jonathan Holsag.