With more than 28,000 locations around the globe and a valuation of $44 billion, Starbucks ranks as the second-most-valuable brand in fast food. Along with its many cafes, the chain also sells a range of retail products from beans and coffee pods to pre-packaged versions of its bestselling drinks. In fact, Starbucks’ line of consumer goods does so well that the Swiss food conglomerate Nestle recently purchased the rights to the company’s retail division for $7.15 billion.

According to analysts, Continue reading

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From picking up apples to distressing jeans, automation is spreading to almost every business you can imagine. And if you happen to live in the Boston area, you could swing by the new restaurant Spyce today and have your lunch prepared by robots. This automated eatery is the result of a partnership between a group of young engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and renowned chef Daniel Boulud. Together these intrepid entrepreneurs claim they have created “the world’s Continue reading

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Modern factories depend on high-tech concepts such as automation and computer-aided manufacturing in order to operate as efficiently as possible. Despite these advancements, though, even the most state-of-the-art facilities can fall victim to unforeseen setbacks that halt production completely. At Ford, for instance, the automaker announced yesterday that it will temporarily stop making its popular F-150 trucks after a fire at a supplier’s factory damaged critical components.

The incident took place last week at a facility that serves as Ford’s Continue reading

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April 12, 2018

The concept of working from home has been a controversial issue among some employers for years. On the one hand, proponents claim that remote working can reduce costs while improving morale among staff. For its critics, though, the idea of working from home brings to mind images of employees who would rather lounge on a couch than do their job.

But according to a new study from Stanford, the former group’s assessment is likely the more accurate one. It all Continue reading

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April 10, 2018

Paying with a credit card is an almost entirely electronic process except for one notable step: the signature. Although this final part of the transaction is meant to provide another layer of security, many consumers quickly squiggle something down on the line just to get the procedure over with. Then there are people like Doug Taylor, who goes the extra mile by signing his receipts with a doodle of a little dog wagging its tail. “It gets a laugh, most Continue reading

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April 6, 2018

Industrial robots were once so dangerous that factory employees could not work in the same room as them due to safety concerns. This video shows just how far technology has come since those early years, with today’s soft-handed robots able to pick up delicate items like fruit or plush toys.

Questions:

  1. Why have items like apples traditionally been difficult for robots to handle? How does modern “soft-robotics” address this problem?
  2. Do you think robots could eventually displace much of the Continue reading
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March 30, 2018

As anyone who’s ever worked in retail knows, dealing with unpredictable work hours can be a frustrating experience. At the Gap, for instance, schedules must be posted 10 days in advance but can change quickly if the staff must prepare for big events like sales promotions or visits from executives. Even during standard operating times this system is far from perfect, with employees uncertain if they’ll work the same shifts from one week to the next. “I don’t count on Continue reading

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March 13, 2018

Last week McDonald’s scored a major marketing hit when the company flipped its famous Golden Arches into a “W” in honor of International Women’s Day. But the logo is far from the only thing the burger chain plans to turn upside down in 2018. In an effort to appeal to environmentally conscious consumers, McDonald’s recently announced some big changes that will make it more sustainable. Along with getting rid of styrofoam cups, the chain is also switching to fresh beef Continue reading

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March 9, 2018

With a userbase of more than 2 billion people, Facebook drives an astonishing amount of Internet traffic every day. So how exactly does the social network manage to succeed without collapsing under the weight of all that data? Like other tech giants, Facebook depends on enormous data centers packed with computer servers to keep the constant stream of information flowing. In fact, these “hyperscale” structures are just as important to the tech industry as factories or mines are to manufacturers. Continue reading

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March 8, 2018

Last year the shipping industry transported more than $4 trillion worth of goods all over the world on huge container vessels. Although these mighty boats are now the backbone of global supply chains, shipping wasn’t always so efficient. This video takes a look at how these metal behemoths revolutionized an ancient industry and the ways they continue to innovate today.

Questions:

  1. How did large container vessels revolutionize the shipping industry?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of using large container Continue reading
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